Thursday, August 27, 2009

come to think of it

We say come to think of it when we are reminded of something--a fact or something that we have to do. If a coworker mentions that he's going downtown and this reminds you that you also need to go downtown to pick something up at a store, you can say, "Come to think of it, I do need to head down that direction. Do you mind if I come along?" Sometimes we use the phrase, "which reminds me" to mean the same thing.

Come to think of it is also used when we are reminded of a fact that is contrary to what we originally thought. For example, you're telling someone about a store, which you think is on Spring St., but in fact, it's not on Spring St., but a block from it. If someone challenges you because this person knows for a fact that the store is not on Spring St., and you realize your mistake, you can then say, "Actually, come to think of it, you're absolutely right. It isn't on Spring St. It's on Prince, like you said."

like this:

A: Did you hear about what Sam did at the party last night? He got up on the table and started yelling at people. He was so wasted.
B: Wait a second. Sam wasn't there last night. I was at the party all night.
A: Oh. Actually, you're right. Come to think of it, I saw Sam at another party the other night.
B: How much did you have to drink last night?
A: Not much. I was just a little confused. That's all.
B: Are you sure? Come to think of it, I think I saw you dancing on the table.
A: Ha. Ha. very funny.

contrary - the opposite
wasted - very drunk (in this context)

Ok folks, I hope you get to use this expression in the next few days. You can use it to make an excuse. "Come to think of it, I do need to get home early. I have a lot of homework to do."

Good luck!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

up for grabs

If something is up for grabs, anybody who is interested in it can try to take it. This can be anything. For example, if there are leftover cookies after a party, they are usually left on the table and are up for grabs, which means anyone who wants one can have one. In another example, if a job opens up in your department, it's usually posted for everyone to see, which means it's up for grabs for anyone who is qualified and who wants it.

like this:

A: I hear the lottery jackpot now is ten million dollars.
B: So no one has gotten the winning ticket yet?
A: Nope. It's still up for grabs.
B: I think I'll stop by the store and buy one. You never know.
A: Exactly.
B: So did your son make the cut on the school baseball team?
A: I don't know yet. I'll find out when I get home. There were still two spots that were up for grabs yesterday, so he was keeping his fingers crossed.
B: Well, I hope he gets it.
A: Thanks.

opens up - becomes available
make the cut - be selected (for a team or some kind of group)
keeping his fingers crossed - hoping for the best (see July 20 blog)

Alright folks, the next time you bring some candy or chocolate to school, and you want to share it with your classmates, you can announce, "This is up for grabs, everyone. Help yourselves!"

Good luck!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I'll let you in on something.

When you let someone in on something, you let that person know what's on your mind. This can be anything: a secret, a future plan, your school project, ... You're telling someone a piece of information that is usually not widely known. For example you can tell your friend, "I'll let you in on our plans for the summer, but don't tell anyone because they're not final yet." You can also say, "Don't let anyone in on this problem before we find a solution." This means don't tell anybody until we figure out what to do with the problem.

like this:

A: We might go to the Florida Keys before the end of the summer.
B: Really? That's awesome!
A: Yeah. My parents have been keeping it a secret, but my dad let me in on it last night.
B: Why have they been keeping it a secret?
A: Because we're in summer school, and we might lose concentration on our classes.
B: Oh. I guess that makes sense. You must be excited.
A: I am. It's actually a surprise for my sister's birthday. So my dad told me not to let her in on the secret. So don't say anything.
B: Don't worry. My lips are sealed.

My lips are sealed. - I won't reveal the secret.

Alright folks, let us in on your plans for the future. You can type in a comment below or go back to our webpage and send us an email.

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

What's in store for you?

What's in store for a person is what that person will experience or encounter at some point in the future. We usually use this expression when we don't know exactly what will happen or when we don't want to specify. If a friend is moving to a new place, you can ask, "So what's in store for you when you get there?" You're basically asking if your friend knows what to expect when he arrives at his new town. If he isn't sure what to expect exactly, he can reply, "I'm not sure yet, but I'm excited to see what's in store for me when I get there." In this case, he may have a friend there who has already found him a job and an apartment. He isn't sure what kind of job or apartment it will be, but he's excited about the possibilities.

like this:

A: So what's in store for you when you move to Alaska?
B: I'm not exactly sure yet, but I'm excited. I've always wanted to live there.
A: Do you have to find a job when you get there?
B: Yeah. I'll probably work in the fishing industry for awhile until I find a writing job.
A: Well, don't forget to bring your winter coat with you, and stay away from the bears.
B: Oh definitely. I know what's in store for me if I come close to one of those grizzlies.

So what's in store for you when you finish your English course or when you've mastered English? You can say, "I'll find a new job where I can speak English everyday," or "I will continue practicing and studying English," or you can say, "I'm not sure what's in store for me yet, but I will definitely try to use English as much as I can."

Don't forget to practice. Good luck!

Thursday, August 13, 2009

a dime a dozen

A dime a dozen is the opposite of our last lesson--hard to come by. If something is a dime a dozen, it's found everywhere. You don't have to look hard for it. Using our examples from the last blog, if a clean public restroom is hard to come by, then dirty restrooms are a dime a dozen, which means that most restrooms that you go into are dirty. Similarly, if a good worker who provides good customer service is hard to come by, then horrible, mean store workers are a dime a dozen.

As with hard to come by, anything can be a dime a dozen: a type of car you see most on the road, a kind of store you see on a particular street, or pedestrians who don't follow traffic signals. When you don't have to look hard to find something because it's everywhere, it's a dime a dozen.

like this:

A: I'm looking for a nice map of the U.S. that I can use in my class. Do you know where I can get one?
B: Yeah. Those are a dime a dozen. Just look for one of those book vendors near subway stations, and they usually have all kinds of children's books, as well as various types of maps.
A: Really! I usually just walk past them. I'll check them out next time.
B: Yeah, you should. I just bought a nice appointment planner from one of those vendors.
A: Really? They have those, too?
B: Oh yeah. They're also a dime a dozen, and they're usually cheaper than at a bookstore.
A: Wow. I'm going to have to do some shopping on my way to work tomorrow.

hard to come by - difficult to find (see August 10 blog below)

Alright everyone, look around and name five things that are a dime a dozen in your neighborhood. In my neighborhood, Chinese fast food restaurants, funeral parlors, cats, laundromats, and convenience stores are a dime a dozen.

Have fun!

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

hard to come by

If something is hard to come by, it's rare or difficult to find. This means it's not ubiquitous, and you often have to look for it. This can be things or types of people or personalities. For example, you can say a clean public restroom is hard to come by when you are walking around town. Similarly, when you come across a mean worker at a store, you can comment that good customer service is hard to come by nowadays. You usually use this phrase when you notice that something is rare and that sometimes, you wish there were more of it.

like this:

A: Thanks for watching our kids last night.
B: No problem. They're so studious. I was surprised. Well disciplined kids are so hard to come by these days.
A: Thanks. We told them they were supposed to do their homework before bed.
B: So how was your friend's party?
A: It was great. We had a lot of fun and the food was fantastic. My friend had been a little worried because she'd had a string of bad caterers.
B: Really, my friend said the same thing. It sounds like good caterers are hard to come by these days.
A: It seems like it. I wonder why.

rare - not common
ubiquitous - seen everywhere; very common
come across - encounter; meet
mean - not nice; not kind
nowadays - these days
studious - someone who studies hard
caterer - someone who prepares and serves food for a party

Alright folks, keep this expression in mind the next couple of days, and when you find yourself looking for something that is rare--a good movie, a cheap plane ticket, a helpful person on the street--you can comment that it's hard to come by.

Good luck!

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

happen to + verb

You've seen this phrase here before. (See the July 27 blog.) I forgot to take it off my list and didn't realize that I'd written about it already until I started entering it in the blog site. So here it is again in another version of the same explanation and another chance for you to practice.

The phrase happen to conveys coincidence or some kind of information that is unexpectedly true. We usually use happen to when the person we are speaking to does not know a piece of information that is useful to him or her.

So if you're talking to someone who needs a carpenter and who doesn't know that you are a carpenter, you can tell him that you happen to be a carpenter and that perhaps you can help with the project that he's doing. In another situation, you go to someone's house after a huge party, and this person has a lot of leftovers that wouldn't fit in the fridge. You can help her get rid of her leftovers without wasting them by saying, "Well, I happen to love leftovers. I can take some of them home with me."

like this:

A: So how are you getting along with your new neighbors?
B: It's going well. Their kids happen to be the same age as ours so they're starting to hang out now.
A: That sounds good. Does the wife work outside the home, too?
B: Yes, she does, and she happens to take the same train as I do, so we sometimes walk to the station together.
A: That's awesome. It's nice to have neighbors you get along with.
B: Totally.

convey - communicate; say; mean
leftovers - extra food
get rid of - dispose; throw away
hang out - spend time and have fun together

That's it, folks. Remember, practice makes perfect.

Have fun!

Monday, August 3, 2009

no wonder

When you wonder about something, you want to find out some information about it. For example, if you say, "I wonder what the weather will be like tomorrow," it means you don't know what the weather forecast is for tomorrow, but you want to find out. No wonder is sort of the opposite because you don't need any more information. In fact, when you say no wonder, it means you already know the reason or the explanation for something. No wonder is similar to "that explains it" or "that explains why ..."

So if your friend looks tired, and you find out that he had been studying all night, you can then say, "No wonder you look so tired." Sometimes, no wonder is used negatively to place fault on someone, especially when you're angry. For example, if someone lost an important game, and you know it's because he doesn't like to practice, some people might tell him, "No wonder you lost. You never practice." This is, of course, not a pleasant thing to say.

like this:

A: I had no idea he works two hours away. No wonder he leaves his house so early.
B: Yes, he's the president of some company.
A: I wonder why they don't just move closer to his workplace.
B: Well, they like the neighborhood and the school district.
A: They're such a nice family. I never see them on the weekends, though.
B: They have a house in the country. They usually spend the weekends there.
A: Oh, no wonder I never see them.

Alright folks, find opportunities to use no wonder. Remember, it's important to practice as much as you can.

Good luck!