Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I used this one-word expression in the lesson yesterday. If you didn't notice, just scroll down and have a quick read. Using say to mean "for example" might be strange at first, but as you become conscious of it, you'll notice that it's quite common especially in less formal speech or writing. It's also the short version of "Let's say" (Let us say), which basically means "consider this" or "think of this as an example."

like this:

So, say you're at a party, and say you walk in wearing a suit and tie while everyone else is wearing T-shirts and jeans. What would you do? Some people would feel embarassed and head right back out hoping no one saw them walk in, especially if they hardly know anyone at the party. But the more extroverted ones will usually not let their out-of-place clothing deter them from socializing and having fun. However, say it's the weekend and you have no good excuse for wearing a suit and tie to the party. What would you do? Well, I guess for me it would depend on who's at the party and whether I feel I could take off my jacket and be somewhat comfortable.

head right back out - go back out of the room
extroverted - sociable, outgoing
out-of-place - different from what's common at the moment
deter - prevent; stop
somewhat - kind of; sort of

So that's an example of how we use the word say to present an example or something to think about. So go ahead. Try it. Say right now.

Good luck!

Monday, June 29, 2009

up for it

When you're up for it, you feel like doing it or having it. "It" can be any activity or thing: going to dinner, a movie, bar hopping, camping, whatever. When you want to do something, say swimming in the river, and you'd like your friend to join you, you can ask, "Are you up for it?" Your friend can then say, "Sure. I'm up for it. Let's go."

You can substitute "it" for its antecedent. So you can say, "Are you up for a movie tonight?" or "I don't think I'll ever be up for bungee jumping." or "I'm up for some pizza. What about you?" This is a common expression that can be used in just about any situation.

like this:

A: Are you up for a game of chess?
B: I've never learned how to play chess.
A: Common, I'll teach you. It's easy. Besides, it'll help kill time while we wait for Ben.
B: Alright, let's do it. I think I'm up for learning a new game. How long is Ben's exam, anyway?
A: It should only take about an hour, but he may take a little longer. He said he hadn't studied.
B: I thought he had time to study last night.
A: He did, but he just wasn't up for it. I think he's just tired of school.
B: Well, I hope he does well.

say - for example
antecedent - the word or phrase that a pronoun refers to
bungee jumping - an adventure sport where you jump off a high point with a stretchable rope tied around your ankles
just about - almost
kill time - let time pass (see the June 15 blog)

Alright folks, I hope you're up for practicing English today. Just speak as much as you can.

Have fun!

Friday, June 26, 2009

Way cool!

The slang word that I want you to learn today is way. When you use way like this, it means "a lot more" or "very much", and it's often used with either a comparative adjective or the word "too" plus a simple adjective. When you're making comparisons, for example, a person can be way taller than you, or way more intelligent, or way funnier. When you're at the store, you may decide not to buy a pair of jeans because they're way too expensive, or way too tight, or way too short.

Keep in mind that we usually don't use way with just the simple adjective. So you really can't say "way delicious" or "way far", but you can say "way more delicious than" or "way too far". The one exception that I can think of is with the slang word "cool." You can say "way cool," which means "really awesome" or "wonderful" and is a slang expression in itself. Of course, you can also say "way too cool" or "way cooler than". Confused? Let's practice.

like this:

A: I don't like this show. The one we saw yesterday was way better than this one.
B: I agree, but it was way too long. I was getting bored toward the end.
A: I know, but I'd rather watch that one again than sit through this one.
B: You know what? You're way too picky. Just relax it's almost over.
A: Do you want to grab something to eat later?
B: Actually, I'm still way too full from lunch. But I'm sure I'll be hungry again in a couple of hours.
A: Alright. Let's walk around after the show and try that new Chinese place on Broadway.
B: It looks way too expensive.
A: It's not. I ate there last week. It's way cheaper than the place you like on Fifth Avenue.
B: Alright then, let's go after the show. Now, sit still. The show's not over yet.

You probably know that a lot of slang often start among certain groups or communities-- teenagers, surfers, valley girls in California, etc.--and eventually spread and become common everywhere. This is the case with this expression; we think it began with surfer dudes, then young people in general and eventually pretty much everywhere and everyone, perhaps because the surfer dudes and the young people who started it eventually grew up and took their slang with them everywhere. ... and of course, tv and movies also help spread a lot of slang nationwide and eventually worldwide.

picky - choosy, finicky
dudes - guys (slang)

Alright, I hope you try to use way with your adjectives. Ask your friends and your teachers if you're using it correctly, and use it as much as you can.

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

come to terms with something

This phrase usually has something to do with facing a negative situation. When you come to terms with something, you accept that something undesirable has happened or is going to happen and there's nothing you can do to change the situation. You face the fact and get used to it. For example if Tim gets fired, he now has to come to terms with getting fired. As a result of getting fired, he won't be able to go to Tahiti on vacation, so he has to come to terms with the fact that he will have to stay home and look for a job instead of going on vacation. If he doesn't find a job quickly enough and runs out of money, he may have to come to terms with the possibility of going bankcrupt and losing his house, a sad reality for many people these days. We often say this expression to help ourselves or others deal with a negative situation, so we can then move on with our lives.

like this:

A: How's Tim doing these days?
B: Oh, he found a job! You haven't heard?
A: No, I haven't. That's great! What's he doing now?
B: He got hired as an assistant to a film director. He loves it.
A: That's awesome. It's too bad he broke up with his girlfriend. I know he had to come to terms with that.
B: Oh, they got back together. They actually got back together before he found this job.
A: That's wonderful. He must be on top of the world right now. His parents must be happy, too.
B: They're overjoyed about the job, but they've never liked the girlfriend, so now they have to come to terms with the fact that he's gotten back together with her.
A: Oh well. You can't win everything. At least he doesn't have to go bankcrupt.

run out of something - use all of something so there's nothing left (see the June 16 blog)
going bankcrupt - going into financial ruin
move on - continue
What's he doing? - What's his job? (in this context)
on top of the world - feeling fantastic

We all have to come to terms with something bad or undesirable, big or small, sometime. Let us know if you have an example you'd like to share and how you dealt with the situation. (... if it's not too depressing.)

Good luck!

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Way to go!

You say this expression when you want to compliment someone on a job well done. This phrase is similar to "good job" or "excellent." So when someone gets an A on an exam, you say, "Way to go! That's awesome." This phrase only works when you talk to someone, so don't use it in the third person, when you're talking about the excellent job someone has done.

like this:

A: Hey Tim! I heard you got a 110 on the TOEFL. Way to go, man!
B: Yeah, thanks. It was my second time taking it. After the first time, I knew what to expect, so it was a little easier.
A: That's awesome. What was your score the first time?
B: I got a 98 the first time. What about you? What have you been up to?
A: Oh, I just got accepted to grad school. I start school this fall.
B: Yeah? That's great. Where are you going?
A: Columbia.
B: Awesome. That's where you wanted to go, right?
A: Yeah. Columbia was my first choice.
B: Way to go, man.
A: Thanks.

What have you been up to? - What's new? What's the latest?

Alright. This is a fairly easy expression to use, so do your best to say it today. Tell someone they did a good job. But instead of saying "good job" or "excellent", say way to go!

Good luck!

Monday, June 22, 2009

bring someone up to speed

This expression is common in a work/business environment. To bring someone up to speed is to tell that person the most up-to-date information. So if your boss wants you to work with Scott, he'll probably want you to update Scott on the latest information. If so, he may say, "I'll tell Scott you guys are now working together. Just bring him up to speed on the project."

like this:

A: Peter wants me to work with Scott on the project.
B: That's good, right? That way you'll finish sooner.
A: Yeah, it's good, but I have to bring him up to speed on everything, and right now, it's so disorganized. I don't know what to tell him.
B: You'll figure it out.
A: I have to. So are we still helping Ted move next week?
B: Actually, they're not sure if it'll be next week. They might have to move it back to the following week. Can you still help if they wait another week?
A: Sure. Just bring me up to speed when you get the latest, so I can make plans.
B: Sure thing. Alright, see you later.
A: Later.

That's it for today. Think of someone you can bring up to speed on your plans. They may appreciate getting the latest from you.

Until tomorrow. Have fun.

Friday, June 19, 2009

You're up. (to be up)

There are a couple of idiomatic meanings for this expression. One is "you're awake." So you can ask if Mary is already up, and someone might reply, "No, she's still asleep." ... or sometimes, when you walk into a room, people say, "Oh, you're up. We thought you were still asleep."

The other meaning of you're up is it's your turn to do something. For example, if you're playing a board game, and it’s you’re turn to roll the dice, you’re friends may say, “Ok, you’re up.” This means you’re next to pick up the dice, roll it and play.

like this:

A: Hi Tom. I didn’t think you’d be up this early to watch the game.
B: I know. I worked until midnight last night, but I wanted to watch my son play baseball.
A: He’s the kid with the Yankees cap on, right?
B: Yeah, that’s Johnny. I try to make it to all his games.
A: How’s work?
B: Work’s alright. We’ve been really busy lately.
A: Oh, Johnny’s up next. Let’s watch this.
B: Alright. Let’s go, Johnny!

board game - a game like Monopoly or Scrabble that's usually played on a table
dicewhite cubes with black dots on each side

Alright folks, the next time someone asks if you’re asleep, say “No, I’m up.” … and when you’re playing a game, you can ask, “Who’s up next?”

Enjoy the weekend.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Time's up!

This phrase is simple and very common. You've probably heard your teacher say "time's up" at the end of an exam. Time's up means you have to finish, and you have to stop what you are doing right now. Usually, an authority figure or someone in-charge will say this at the end of a timed activity. You'll often hear someone say "time's up" at the end of a competition. An example is a contest on who can do the most sit ups in 15 minutes. The contestants do as many sit ups as they can, and at the end of 15 minutes, the referee then says "time's up."

You can use time's up when you're playing a game with friends. When one group is still figuring something out, and they're taking too much time, everyone can say, "Alright guys, time's up. You have to make a decision."

like this:

A: I don't think I could eat that many hotdogs, period.
B: I know. ..and they have to eat as many as possible in 15 minutes.
A: That guy in the blue shirt is way ahead of everyone. He's eaten 30 hotdogs already.
B: That's ok. Jim's pacing himself. They have 10 minutes before time's up.
A: I hope you're right. He really wants to win this competition.
A: I don't think he's going to make it.
B: No, time's up. Oh well, better luck next time.

timed activity - an activity that has a time limit.
sit up - an exercise where you lie on the floor with your knees bent, then you sit up and lie down repetitively.
figure out - to understand something; to find the answer
way - very much (in this context)
pacing yourself - control your speed (usually so that you can last a long time)

Alright everyone, the next time you're playing a game, and someone's run out of time, make sure you're the one to say "Time's up!"

Good luck,

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

run out of something

This is an expression that all ESL students should know or learn as soon as possible because it's extremely common. To run out of something or to be out of something means there is none left of something. Something can be sugar, bread, time, money, patience, anything. So if you say, "We ran out of sugar," it means you don't have anymore sugar. When you're on vacation, and you have to go home early, it's usually because you are out of money or you ran out of money.

When you use the present progressive of this phrase, it means you still have some, but it's almost gone. So if you're running out of time during an exam, it means you still have time but perhaps not enough because it's almost up.

like this:

A: Hey John, could you run to the store and get some milk? We're almost out of it.
B: Sure. I think we're running out of rice, too, right?
A: Oh yeah. You're right. Could you get some?
B: What are kids doing up there?
A: I don't know. They've been fighting all day. I'm really running out of patience. If they don't stop soon, I'm going to take away their cell phones.
B: I'm going to take one of them to the store with me. That should give you some peace and quiet for a little while.
A: That would be great. Thanks.

time's up - no more time left (for example, at the end of an exam)

That's it folks. Any questions, feel free to comment or send us an email.

Good luck!

Monday, June 15, 2009

killing time

Before I get to the lesson, I just want to welcome those of you whom I met at Coney Island in New York this weekend. I was at Flea By The Sea, a flea market not far from the boardwalk and, of course, the beach. I was there to sell The small guide To Improving Your English. If you bought the booklet, I hope you take it with you always and study, review, or just read it as much as you can. That was the whole idea of my writing it--to have something that people can take with them anywhere to practice English. I hope you become a regular here and follow our blog of free quick lessons.

Now for the lesson. This one is easy and quite common. When you are doing nothing in particular while waiting for something to happen, you're simply killing time. If, for example, you're meeting a friend at 3:30, and you arrive at the place thirty minutes early, what do you usually do? Well, if you can't think of anything important, you simply kill time. You window shop, or you browse around a store, or you sit in the park and watch people. You do nothing in particular; you simply do whatever you feel like doing until your friend arrives.

So the next time you're early for an appointment, ask yourself, "Where can I go to kill some time?" or "How can I kill time?"

like this:

A: Hey Tom!
B: Hey Andrea!
A: What a surprise! What are you doing here?
B: Oh, I'm just killing time. I have a class at 2, and I got here 20 minutes early.
A: Do you mind if I sit with you?
B: No, not at all.
A: I do the same thing. I usually grab a couple of magazines and read them before I go home.
B: That's right! You work downstairs at Whole Foods, don't you?
A: Yeah. Actually, a lot of people kill time there, too. It's a nice place to sit and eat or read something.
B: I know. I do that quite a bit, too.

By the way, if you are studying English as a Second Language now or if you've been studying English for a long time but still have difficulty keeping track of the different verb tenses, modals, and conditionals, The small guide To Improving Your English is a handy booklet to have while you're killing time. You can do a quick review while waiting for your appointment.

Have a nice day. Have fun!

Friday, June 12, 2009

What's the deal?

This question is a slang way of asking "What's going on?" or "What's the problem?" or "What's wrong?" You say it when you don't understand or are confused about something, and you want something explained to you.

So, if you're driving and you come upon some heavy traffic, and it's not rush hour, you can say "What's the deal with all the traffic? Could there be an accident up ahead?" If you feel tired in the middle of the day, you can say, "I don't know what the deal is. I'm so tired even though I slept well last night." If you have noisy neighbors, you can say, "I don't know what the deal is with the neighbors. They make noise at all hours of the night." Sometimes, people say, "What's the deal with the weather?" when the weather is acting strange and erratic.

Do you get the picture? Try using it in your conversations today.

like this:

A: What's the deal with Paul? He's so grumpy today.
B: He had a big fight with his girlfriend last night. He said he was so angry, he couldn't sleep.
A: Oh. That explains why he kept yawning during the meeting.
B: So how's your project coming along?
A: It's going a little slow right now, but we have to pick up speed soon since the boss moved up our deadline.
B: That's right! What's the deal with that?
A: He said he wanted to see our work before he goes on vacation.
B: Oh yeah. He's going to Orlando with his family. Well, good luck.
A: Thanks. We should be able to do it.

rush hour - the time of day when people are commuting
commuting - traveling from home to work and vice versa
erratic - not stable or consistent
grumpy - angry, not in a good mood
pick up - increase (in this context)
move up - move the date closer to the present (in this context)

Have a good weekend, everybody. I hope you have good weather, wherever you are.

Have fun!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

up in the air

A future event is up in the air if it's not definite or if something about it (the time, the place) is not certain. For example, if you're planning a party, but you're not sure if it's going to happen for some reason, you can say, "The party is up in the air right now. We'd like to have it, but we're not sure yet if anybody will come." If the party is definite for Friday at 8p.m., but it's not clear yet whether it will occur at John's house or Ted's apartment, you can say, "We're definitely having the party at 8, but the venue is still up in the air."

like this:

A: So, I hear you're going to Italy for the summer.
B: Oh, that's now up in the air. I just got an internship at a magazine that I really want to work for, so now I'm thinking of canceling my trip to Italy.
A: Oh, that's a tough decision. I don't know if I would cancel a trip to Italy, though.
B: I know, but I can't say no to the internship. By the way, congratulations on your engagement.
A: Thanks.
B: I hear the wedding's in September.
A: Actually, that's up in the air, as well. Tara's sister is overseas right now and can't get back until next year, so we're thinking of moving the date to next summer.
B: But that's not so bad, right?
A: No, it's not a big deal. We've been together for five years, so we can definitely wait another six months or so.

venue - place for an event
overseas - abroad
or so - approximately, about

Alright everyone, what is up in the air in your life right now? Is it going back to your country, starting school, getting married, moving to a new apartment, ... Think about it, then try to incorporate the phrase in your conversations today.

Gook luck!

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

go overboard

Alright, this one is easy because it's similar to yesterday's expression. When you're going overboard on something, you're getting carried away, which means you're doing more than you originally planned or expected. It doesn't necessarily mean you're getting caught up in something; it just means that you are overdoing whatever activity you are engaged in.

So from yesterday's example, the next time you plan a party, your friends may tell you, "Alright you can plan this next party, but don't go overboard this time. We want a small gathering not a huge ball."

like this:

A: I heard you guys went way overboard on your vacation.
B: Oh yeah. We saw this really nice hotel across the street from ours, so we decided to check in there, instead. Janet went to the spa; I got a massage; We spent way too much.
A: Well, it's good to splurge now and then.
B: I guess. It was a lot of fun.
A: So where are the kids.
B: They're by the TVs. We're getting a new flat screen, just a small one... which means I should go over there before they go overboard and choose a huge one.
A: Alright, nice seeing you.
B: Same here. See you around.

get carried away - do more than originally planned (usually because you're doing something interesting)
get caught up in - stay focused on something interesting that you usually forget what you need to do
overdoing - doing too much
a ball - a big, formal party
way - very much (in this context)
splurge - spend a lot (usually on yourself)
now and then - sometimes

Any questions? You can post your comments here or on Facebook. You can also ask questions at the small guide site.

Good luck!

Monday, June 8, 2009

get carried away

Last month, on our May 25 blog, we talked about getting caught up in something. Do you remember what to get caught up in something means? If you don't, it's ok; but check out the May 25 blog first before reading on. It's good to review old lessons now and then, anyway.

Getting carried away is similar to getting caught up in something. When you get carried away, you also often forget what you need to do because you're so engrossed, or so interested in what you are doing at the moment. However, getting carried away has an added meaning. It also means that you are doing more than what you originally planned. So basically, the full meaning of getting carried away is doing too much of something because it's so interesting that it's keeping your focus.

For example, you're planning a small party with a few friends; you may be thinking of having a few drinks and a couple of dishes for your small party. However, in the course of planning, the small party becomes a big party and eventually, a huge party with a lot of people, a lot of food, and a live band. So when your friend approaches you and asks you what happened to the originally planned small party, you can say, "Oh, I got carried away. I got excited thinking about having a lot of fun that I ended up doing all this."

Get the picture? When you do more than what you originally planned because you are getting caught up in something exciting, you are getting carried away.

like this:

A: I love taking walks in the early evening when it's not hot anymore.
B: Me too. Today was a beautiful day. It's too bad I spent the whole day inside at work.
A: I thought you were going out to the park for lunch.
B: I was supposed to, but I started this project in the morning, and I got carried away; I couldn't stop.
A: So did you finish it?
B: Yeah, I did.
A: That's good. What about if we walk to the grocery store?
B: On 9th Street? Now?
A: Yeah. Why not?
B: It's nice to take a little walk in the evening, but let's not get carried away. I don't feel like walking 20 blocks.
A: Alright. Maybe next time.

now and then - sometimes
engrossed - focused on something; very interested in something at the moment
in the course of - while; in the process of

Alright, ladies and gents. Think about the last time you got carried away, and just say the sentence and tell the story. Yes, to yourself. "I got carried away when I ... because ..."

Have fun with English!

Friday, June 5, 2009

call it a day

Calling it a day means to stop doing something for today to be continued another day. This is another idiomatic expression that's commonly used. You can say it anytime you want to stop working or studying or practicing something, and you want to finish what you're doing some other day. For example, if you've been studying for a few hours and you want to stop, you can say, "I'm calling it a day. I'm tired; I'll continue studying tomorrow." Your teacher, at the end of class may say, "alright, let's call it a day. We'll continue talking about the War of 1812 tomorrow." Get the picture?

like this:

A: My mom said we should call it a day. She said we need our rest.
B: She's right. We've been studying for 5 hours straight. But we still have two chapters to go over.
A: Well, the test is not until Friday, and it's only Tuesday. We could go over the last two chapters tomorrow and do a review on Thursday.
B: That sounds good. Alright. Let's call it a day. I feel like having some ice cream. Do you have any downstairs?
A: Sure do. Vanilla and Rocky Road.
B: Awesome.

go over - study, review, take a look

Alright folks. Enjoy the weekend. I hope you get to speak as much English as possible.

Have fun!
the small guide site

Thursday, June 4, 2009

call it quits

This phrase is an idiomatic way of saying stop or quit usually when you are tired of doing something and don't want to do it anymore. For example, when you are trying to fix your car and you can't figure out how to do it, after a couple of hours, you can say "that's it. I'm calling it quits. I'm taking this to the mechanic tomorrow." In another example, if you are studying for an exam and it's very late, you can say "I'm calling it quits. I'm so tired. Let's continue tomorrow."

like this:

A: You know, I'm so tired of law school. I don't think I want to be a lawyer anymore.
B: Are you kidding me? You can't call it quits now. You're almost finished!
A: But what am I going to do with a law degree if I don't practice law?
B: Well, it'll look good on your resume. You have to finish school, then you can switch careers.
A: Easy for you to say. You've been thinking of going to med school since you were 5.
B: Actually, I've been thinking of calling it quits lately. It's tough on the family. I hardly see the kids anymore.
A: Wonderful! Let's call it quits on our careers together. Maybe we can open a restaurant, instead.
B: Very funny. ... Actually, that's not such a bad idea.

Alright. Whatever you do, don't call it quits if you're tired of English. Learn something new everyday, and practice as much as you can.

Until tomorrow,
the small guide site

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

It's about time

Yesterday, we learned the phrase it's high time. Today, we'll learn a similar phrase: it's about time, which can have the exact same meaning and used the same way as the expression, it's high time.

From our example yesterday, when a mother wants her teenaged son to put his money in the bank, she can say, "it's high time you opened a savings account." She can also say, "it's about time you opened a savings account." Both mean the same thing: the mother thinks that her son should open a savings account now most likely because she thinks he's old enough to do so.

However, depending on the context, you can also use it's about time after someone does what needs to be done to mean "finally, you did it." From the above example, after the son goes to the bank and opens a savings account, the mother can say, "it's about time you opened a savings account." Now she means, "finally, you did it." This can sound somewhat sarcastic or humorous, depending on the context. It implies that the mother has been waiting for the son to do it, and after a long wait and perhaps constant reminding, the son finally does it.

In another example from yesterday, the mother tells her son, "it's high time you went to bed" because she thinks it's time for him to get some sleep. When the son finally goes to bed, the mother can check his room and say, "it's about time he went to bed." Here she means, "finally, he went to bed." It implies that she has been waiting for him to go to bed and finally, he listens."

It's about time can also be used by itself. For example, when we have been waiting for a friend to arrive, and after 30 minutes, he finally shows up, we can simply say "It's about time!" This basically means "finally, you've arrived! We've been waiting for a long time!"

like this:

A: Have you heard? Jason found a job yesterday.
B: It's about time! He's been searching for a job for a while now, right?
A: Since February. He was getting really nervous.
B: I bet. It must be nerve-wracking to be out of work for so long. So what's he doing now?
A: He found work as an accountant.
B: Oh, that's great! That's what he studied in school, right?
A: Yeah. It's about time he worked in his field.

it's high time - It's really time now to do this; you should really do this now
context - situation, scenario
implies something - means something without saying it obviously
I bet - I'm sure that's true.
nerve-wracking - very stressful
what's he doing now? - (in this context, she's asking about Jason's job)

As usual, don't fret if it's a little confusing. You will get it with practice. Then you can say "finally! It's about time I understood this expression!" Try to use it as much as you can. Ask your teachers and friends who are native speakers if you're using it correctly, and as always, we will use this expression again in future blogs to give you more examples.

Good luck!

Monday, June 1, 2009

It's high time

If you tell a friend,"it's high time you learned how to drive," this means that your friend doesn't know how to drive yet, and you're suggesting that your friend really learn how to drive now. If you tell someone,"it's high time I got a raise at work," it implies that you have been expecting a raise for some time, and you're saying that your boss should really give you a raise now. It's high time gives the idea that something is overdue and that the activity should have happened already.

I hope you noticed that it's high time is followed by a clause. Remember that a clause always has a subject and a verb. Also notice that the verb in the clause is in the past tense even though you're talking about the present and the near future. For example, a mother might tell her teenaged son, "it's high time you went to bed." She means he should really go to bed now. The mother might also say, "it's high time you opened a savings account." She means he should really start putting his money in the bank now or the very near future.

This is similar to the structure of a second conditional clause (remember? "If I were rich" means I am not rich), as well as when you wish about the present or the future. I wish I had a boat means I don't have a boat right now. When you say, "It's high time you bought a house," it means I really think you should buy a house, and in the right context, it could also mean "I really wish you would buy a house."

like this:

A: So what are your plans for the summer?
B: I'm thinking of taking some cooking classes. It's high time I learned how to cook.
A: That's a great idea. My sister studied at the Culinary Institute. She said she learned a lot.
B: Oh yeah? What about you? What are you up to this summer?
A: Well, I thought it was high time I checked out London, so I'm planning a trip there.
B: Really, you've never been?
A: Nope.
B: Yeah. It's definitely high time you went.

Now, it's your turn. Try making your own sentences. What should you start doing now that you've been thinking about for a long time?

Is it now time for you to buy a house? You can say, "It's high time I bought a house."
Is it now time for you to take a vacation? -- It's high time I took a vacation.
Is it now time for you to start working out? -- It's high time I started working out.
Is it now time for you to organize your apartment? -- It's high time ...

You get the picture.

a raise - an increase in salary
overdue - late (overdue book at the library; overdue payment)
context - scenario, situation
What are you up to? - What are you doing?
working out - exercising

I hope you all had a nice weekend. Have you been using our expressions in your conversations? If not, it's high time you did. Speak English as much as you can.

Good luck!