Wednesday, February 9, 2011

off the hook

This phrase can be used three different ways: you can be off the hook, get off the hook, or let someone off the hook. Being off the hook or getting off the hook means that you are no longer obligated to stay and do something you don't really want to do. In other words, you can go; you're free. For example, if your brother volunteers to do your chores (perhaps for a fee), then you're off the hook. You can leave and go out with your friends. You can then tell your friends, "I'm off the hook" or "I got off the hook. I don't have to vacuum the whole house."

If you did do something wrong, and you escaped punishment, you can also say that you got off the hook. This usually means that you should be in an unpleasant situation for something that you did, but for some reason you were able to get yourself out of it. This is similar to the phrasal verb getting away with something, which means not being punished even though you did something wrong. An example is when a cop stops you for speeding; but because it's your first offense and because you are respectful to the officer, he just gives you a warning and not an expensive ticket. In this situation, you just got off the hook! Congratulations!

You can also let someone off the hook if you allow them to escape punishment or just let them go. If your parents don't want you to go out with your friends because it's a school night, but you beg and beg, they may just let you off the hook. Similarly, we can say that the policeman in the above example let you off the hook by not giving you a ticket.

like this:
1. John, you can go now; Bill's here. You're off the hook.
2. My colleague volunteered to do the presentation, so I'm off the hook! Thank goodness.
3. "Mr. Thomson, you can go; you're off the hook," the police said. "The real criminal just confessed."
4. We heard the boss was going to yell at us at the meeting, but we ran out of time, so we got off the hook.
5. Many people thought he committed the murder and that he got off the hook when the jury found him not guilty.
6. The store owner let the boy off the hook when he found out why the boy stole the apple.
7. Our teacher makes us do homework in class if we don't do it at home. He never lets us off the hook

Alright folks, your turn to write sample sentences. Have you ever gotten off the hook for something? When did you let someone off the hook? Feel free to write a mini story.

Until next time,
Joe Yu

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