Friday idiom: a stone’s throw

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Scene 1

Salman: Excuse me, I’m looking for the nearest post office, could you help me?

Rebecca: Hi there, sure! The post office is just a stone’s throw from here. I’ll show you.

Salman: I’m sorry, I don’t know what « stone’s throw » means.

Rebecca: It means it’s very close by. Come, I’ll show you where it is.

Salman: Thank you so much. That’s very kind of you.

Scene 2

Two friends, Sam and Kruti, are walking down a country lane together. Sam looks around nostalgically.

Sam: You know, I grew up just a stone’s throw from that pond over there. This place really hasn’t changed a bit.

Kruti: I’ve heard that expression before, but I’m not sure what it means. Can you explain it to me?

Sam: Of course, it means « close ». I grew up very close to that pond over there, just over the ridge.

Kruti: Thanks a lot! Would you like to walk up to your old house to see it?

Sam: That’s a great idea. Perhaps the family living there now will let us have a quick look around.

Kruti: Okay, let’s go!

So how do you feel? Did you get a sense of the meaning? Let me know in the comments if you have any questions, or send me a message and I’ll get back to you ASAP!

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Word of the day: robust

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Here are some examples of the word robust in use:

  • I’m so happy with my new table, it’s very robust and aesthetic too!
  • I’m really looking for something more robust, I’m not sure that little car will cut it.
  • Have you seen her new sculpture? Yeah, it looks really robust. So different from all her other work!
  • I would buy the other cupboard, it’s more robust and you’ll need something sturdy with 3 kids running around.
  • Eric said his new son in law seemed like a very robust sort of man.

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Friday idiom: the ball is in your court

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You’ve done the research, you’ve given your opinion, now you need to say to your partner/competitor, etc, « the ball is in your court ». Basically: it’s time for you to make a decision.

If you’re waiting for someone else to make a decision after discussing the issue and giving your opinion, you can also say of that person: the ball is in his/her court. Meaning that you’ve given them all the tools to decide and/or you’ve given your opinion, now it’s their turn to make a choice.

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Word of the day: nap

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Oh naps, how I love them! A good old afternoon nap can really be quite wonderful! However, too long a nap will make you (read: me) groggy or cranky (make you sleepy or put you in a bad mood).

So here are some ways that people take naps:

  • Pretty much all small children take naps in the afternoon, and babies take them in the morning too!
  • Some people take power naps that are about 20 minutes long, in order to refresh and restore energy.
  • My grandfather always used to take a nap in the afternoon, my step-father does, and actually, most older men I know, nap in the afternoon. Very few women, though, I wonder why? Something to research!

So, do you take naps?

I must confess that I enjoy a good nap on the weekend sometimes, but I rarely have time for them.

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Word of the day: lobby

Améliorez votre anglais avec notre mot du jour! Pour réussir à devenir bilingue, il faut avoir la motivation mais aussi une bonne communauté d'entraide, venez apprendre avec nous !

Every building I’ve ever lived in in Canada had a lobby. Here are a few things lobbies are for:

  • It’s where the concierge can be found, if your building has one.
  • It’s where our building organised Christmas, Halloween, and other parties.
  • It’s where the elevators are located.
  • It’s where you meet people if you work in the same building or if you ask someone to meet you at your office.

Lobbies don’t seem so be very popular in France, but for anyone visiting or moving to North America, be ready for them!

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Friday idiom: of your rocker

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So this is a funny wee idiom.

How do you use it?

Imagine you’re watching your friend do something totally crazy, you can comment on the madness by saying to your fellow onlooker (the person who is watching with you): she’s off her rocker!

It tends to be a stand alone phrase, meaning that you don’t really use it within a long sentence. It’s more of a short expression you’d use to comment on someone’s action.

Let’s have another example:

You and your friend are at the mall and she sees a guy she has a crush on (that she likes). She decides to make a grand gesture and take control of the announcer’s microphone to declare her love for the guy. You can tell her, « Oh my goodness, you’re off your rocker. »

This idiom is generally used for funny situations rather than serious ones; you shouldn’t use it to speak of someone who has real mental health problems.

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Word of the day: suggest

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Suggest is often mistaken for propose in English, particularly by French speakers.

Je te propose d’aller au cinéma ce soir. Is not: I propose you to go to the cinema tonight.

Instead, in English, we’d say: I suggest (that) we go to the cinema tonight.

Use the word suggest in different ways:

  • I’d like to suggest (that) we go out in the evening instead of the afternoon, it’s too hot during the day.
    • Here, use the word suggest + subject + infinitive. « That » is optional, you can choose to use it when you feel like it will make your sentence more clear.
  • Suggest something: Mary suggested pizza for dinner.
  • Suggest something to somebody: Erin suggested taking the week off to her assistant, who looked like he really needed it.

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Friday idiom: to be stumped

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Don’t know the answer to something? Maybe you’re stumped!

If you’re stumped, it means you’re stuck for words; you don’t know what to do or say about a particular situation.

When I was a kid (and even today, sometimes) math problems often left me stumped. I couldn’t understand how to find the answer or why I needed to know at what exact time two trains would pass each other at a particular station. I didn’t get why they were going at different speeds, and I thought it was ridiculous that we needed to spend so much time on those types of problems.

Okay, let’s have another story.

One day, I was left stumped when, at the local town hall, an official asked me if Canada was in the European Union. Actually, that one still has me stumped. What on earth are you supposed to say to that? My instinct was to laugh and cry at the same time, but I didn’t, because I needed her to stamp some papers for me.

So, what’s got you stumped, or has done in the past? Maybe something about English grammar? Let us know, we’ll be happy to help!

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Word of the day: towel

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Use a towel to dry yourself after a bath or a shower; use a towel at the beach, to lie down on or dry yourself with as well.

The towel we bring to the beach is called a… wait for it… can you guess? Yes! a beach towel.

You can also use towels in the kitchen, these are called paper towels (among others).

Of course, there are many different kinds of towel:

  • Face cloth: a small towel used to wash/dry your face.
  • Beach towel: used for the beach! Duh!
  • Bath towel: these are usually larger than regular towels.
  • Hair towel: used for… yes, your hair! These tend to be small, though of course, not as small as a face cloth.
  • Hand towel: used for drying your hands, these are usually quite small.
  • Wash cloth: used to clean the surfaces of your home, usually found in the kitchen.
  • Gym towel: oh yes, you don’t want to bring your bath towel to the gym, do you?

This isn’t an exhaustive list, but it’s pretty complete and should be enough for now!

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