09.11.2017 |

Episode #7 of the course English idioms (B2) by Kasia Sielicka, PhD


“Oh my, oh my! “ panicked Susan in the cabin. “Maybe I’ve bitten off more than I can chew? Maybe the cruise wasn’t such a good idea…”

“No, it wasn’t…” said Alice to herself.

“What?” asked Susan, irritated.

“Nothing, just a slip of the tongue,” explained Alice hurriedly.

“Look, maybe it’s a wild goose chase,” despaired Susan. “I’ll never relax, I’ll never recover!”

“Girl, pull yourself together!” shouted Alice, shaking Susan by the arms. “Just because you got your fingers burned with all this stuff, that doesn’t mean there won’t be any good changes! Why not here?”

“Why not?! Why not?!” shouted Susan. “A few minutes ago, we made a pig’s ear of our chance to make a good first impression on Richard! That’s why not!”

“Okay, now is your chance to make a good second impression,” explained Alice patiently. “It’s dinner time, I’m sure we’ll meet him there. And I won’t let my plan fall flat on its face so easily. Let’s go!”

Reluctantly, Susan agreed to go.

When they entered the dining room, Susan’s jaw literally dropped. She looked at the luxurious surroundings, the elegantly dressed people, the mouth-watering food…

“Look, a lobster!” she exclaimed. “And champagne and strawberries and chocolate!”

She wanted to sit down and start eating, but Alice grabbed her hand.

“Don’t take your eye off the ball! Richard is right there,” she reminded her, pointing at the man in the corner.

Indeed, Richard was standing next to a table, talking to another man and a woman in beautiful green dress. Alice started dragging Susan in that direction.

“Look at that guy! He’s completely bald!” shouted Susan. It was obvious that Richard heard the comment. He gave her the coldest look ever.

“Oh no,” thought Susan, blushing, “Now I’ve really put my foot in it. I just want the earth to open up…”

“Oh no,” thought Alice at the same time. “Now she’s really shot herself in the foot.”

“My dear ladies,” said Richard, trying to be polite. “This is my brother, James. And please meet my wife, Margaret.”

Susan’s heart sank.

“Well,” said Alice as they walked away, “we were barking up the wrong tree. Richard is happily married.”


Idioms Explained

When you bite off more than you can chew, you try to do more than you can actually do. This is also often used about responsibilities.

A slip of the tongue is something you say when you wanted to say something else.

A wild goose chase is when you try to find something that doesn’t exist or that you’re very unlikely to find.

When you get your fingers burned, you have a bad experience from doing something and you feel discouraged from doing it again. This is often used about a business or a relationship.

When you make a pig’s ear of something, you do it very badly.

When something (like a plan or a scheme) falls flat on its face, it fails completely, often in an embarrassing way.

If you take your eye off the ball, you fail to focus on your goal and become distracted instead.

When you put your foot in your mouth, you accidentally say something embarrassing or upsetting. In the UK, it’s said “put your foot in it.”

When you shoot yourself in the foot, you do or say something stupid, which results in trouble.

When you are barking up the wrong tree, you’re doing something that won’t get you the results you want. Often, this is asking the wrong person for something.

Believe it or not, this is not the end of Susan’s bad luck! Find out tomorrow what other crisis she has!


Recommended book

In a Pickle: And Other Funny Idioms by Marvin Terban and Giulio Maestro


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