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July 20, 2018


While speaking about synonyms and antonyms in English, it would be worthwhile to mention an interesting phenomenon called “auto-antonymy.” The words belonging to this group are also known as “autantonyms,” “contranyms ,“ “antagonyms,””enantiodromes,” “Janus words,” or “self-antonyms.”  This last term (“self-antonyms”) has been selected for our discussion.

A self-antonym is a word with several meanings, two of which are opposed to each other. Example: If we go back to Shakespeare’s English, the word “to let” meant not only “to allow” but also “to hinder, to forbid” because these meanings had developed from two different words: “lettan” (delay, impede, oppress” and “laetan” (allow, let on lease). By the time Shakespeare was writing his “Hamlet,” the forms of the words coincided, which transformed the resulting word into a self-antonym. Cf:

“ …Still am I called.—Unhand me, gentlemen (draws his sword)

By heaven, I’ll make a ghost of him that lets me.

I say, away!—Go on. I’ll follow thee.

In modern English, this meaning is preserved in the phrase “without let or hindrance” (= without obstruction or impediment): <rats scurried about the house without let or hindrance>

Other languages also have examples of self-antonymy. In Latin “altius” means both “deep” and “high.” Actually, the meaning is “large in vertical dimension.” The German “ausleihen,” like the Ukrainian “позичати,”stands for both “lend and “borrow.”

Here are some modern English self-antonyms:

Appropriate – 1. To give money to, 2. to take something for one’s own use;

Biweekly – 1.  Occurring every two weeks, 2. Occurring twice a week;

To clip – 1. To attach, 2. To cut off;

Downhill – 1. Things are getting worse, 2. Things are getting easier

To draw (curtains) – 1. To open, 2. To close

To dust – 1. To remove dust, 2. To cover with dust;

Fast – 1. Without moving <to hold fast>, <fast asleep>, 2. Moving quickly;

Nonplussed – 1. Baffled, perplexed, 2. Unperturbed (in North America);

To overlook – 1. To miss something, 2. To see something from above;

To sanction – 1. To approve; 2. To penalize;

To screen – 1. To show, 2. To conceal;

A story – 1. An untrue account of events (to tell stories), 2. A factual account of events (a news story);

To strike – 1. To act decisively, 2. To refuse to act;

To table (a bill) – 1. To put (the bill) up for debate – in British English, 2. To remove it from debate – in American English (where British English would have “shelve”);

Transparent – 1. Easy to detect, 2. Invisible.

The above cases are a matter of lexicology. However, in stylistics there is a plethora of examples when a word acquires an opposite meaning as compared to its dictionary status For instance: “Very clever!” — sometimes meaning “foolish.” Or in the dialogue “Would you like to have another cup of coffee?” — “That’s OK,”  which can mean either “yes, please,” or “No, thank you” depending on the situation.

Among the latest self-antonyms, there are also two blends: “coopetition” (= cooperation + competition) and “frenemy” (= friend + enemy)



July 14, 2018

Some of the most frequent words which were covered in earlier posts: to be, I, to, for, with, good, of.

'She said we were definitely having a test, no ifs, ands or buts, and every one of them was on it.'

This time, the focus is on the conjunction and.


1.The conjunction is informally used after the verbs come, go or try to introduce another verb describing the purpose of the action: come and see; try and find it; I’ll try and answer the question; I prefer to wait and see how things go. The pattern is frequent in conversations, but should be avoided in any writing that is not informal: We must try to prevent this happening.

2.The informal usage is observed in the cliché and then some (=with considerably more in addition): This project will take all our skill and then some.

3.The archaic usage: and you please (=if you please).

4.Implying a distinction: there are teachers and teachers.

5.When two nouns in a phrase are regarded as a single item, they always occur In a fixed order: ladies and gentlemen, knife and fork


1.A traditional grammatical rule asserts that sentences beginning with and or but express “incomplete thoughts” and are therefore incorrect. But this rule has been ignored by writers from Shakespeare to Joyce Carol Oates. In the 1988 survey, when asked whether they paid attention to the rule in their own writing, 24 percent answered “always or usually”, 36 percent answered “sometimes,” and 40 percent answered “rarely or never.”

2.And may be used as a noun in the meaning of an addition or stipulation: The offer is final – no ifs, no ands, or buts.

3.Implying a conditional: One move and you are dead!

 4.In negative sentences, you don’t normally use and to link groups of words. For example, you don’t say: *She never reads and listens to stories. You say: She never reads or listens to stories.

5.When you are linking verb phrases that contain the same auxiliary verb, you don’t need to repeat the auxiliary verb: John had already showered and changed. Similarly, the same adjective, preposition, or determiner in front of them, you don’t need to repeat the adjective, preposition, or determiner: My father and father worked hard.


1.With more than two adjectives that do not contrast with each other, and is placed before the last adjective. In this case, the usage of the comma before and is optional: We felt hot, tired (,) and thirsty. When you use two or more complementary adjectives in front of a noun, you don’t usually put and between them: She was wearing a beautiful pink dress; We made rapid technological advance. However, if the adjectives characterize the object equally (i.e. if they aren’t complementary), you must use andI bought a black and white swimming suit, This is a social and educational dilemma.

2.Do not use and to link two contrasting adjectives. For example, don’t say *We were tired and happy. Say: We were tired but happy.


July 12, 2018

Extracts from the book by Thomas W. Adams and Susan R. Kuder


List of Idioms:

be cool toward someone= be unfriendly

get up on the wrong side of the bed = awake in a bad mood

give someone the cold shoulder= treat someone in an unfriendly way

have a bone to pick with someone= have a reason for dispute; have something to complain or argue about

have a sunny disposition= always be pleasant and cheerful

icy stare= very unfriendly look

leave a bad taste in the mouth= leave a bad impression

turn one’s back on someone= turn and look away from someone

turn one’s nose up at someone=act as though someone is not good enough

welcome someone with open arms= greet with words or actions showing that one is glad to see another



  1. Put “yes” if the behavior is friendly and you would like to be treated in this way, and “no” if the behavior is unfriendly and you wouldn’t like to be treated in this way

__ You are spending the day with one of your classmates, John. Usually, he is very pleasant to be with. However, today, nothing anyone does seems to please him. You do not know why he is acting the way he is. You suppose he got up on the wrong side of the bed today.

__ You and your friends, Hank and Mary, are having a cup of coffee together. Hank turns away from you to talk to Mary. He turns his back on you.

__ You are walking down the street and see Mike, a person you work with. You greet Mike pleasantly, but he gives you a cold shoulder, and walks past you without saying hello.

__ You are visiting a new city for the first time. You telephone some people you know who live there. They invite you to dinner and welcome you with open arms.

__ You are at a party and see a classmate. You wave to him across the room, but he turns his nose up at you and doesn’t wave back.

__ Your good friend Sally is introducing her new boyfriend, Frank, to you. You shake hands with him and try to make a conversation, but notice that he is cool toward you and doesn’t seem interested in talking with you

__ You meet your friend Amy, and she looks happy to see you. In fact, she is always glad to see you. She has such a sunny disposition.

__ You are in the school cafeteria, and one of your teachers approaches you and says he has a bone to pick with you. He seems angry and looks as though he wants to talk to you about something you did that he didn’t like.

__ You see someone that you met earlier, Jill. You liked her and thought she liked you, but when you greet her, she gives you an icy stare. You thought she would be happy to see you. You do not know what went wrong.

__ Your friend Bill has been trying to talk you into refusing a particular summer job. When you see your friend Jack, he tells you that Bill told him he wants the job himself. What Jack says, leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

2.  In many U.S. high schools, students in the graduating senior class are recognized by their classmates for certain of their qualities. Someone may be chosen “The Most Likely To Succeed”; another may be chosen “The Best Athlete.”  Still, another may be chosen “The Most Popular.” The candidates for this last category must be friendly. Circle the name in the sentences below if the person might be a good choice for “The Most Popular.” Cross out the name if the person would not.


  1. Susanna frequently has a bone to pick with someone.
  2. Mary even gives her best friends the cool shoulder from time to time.
  3. Jim never gets up on the wrong side of the bed.
  4. Karen always has a sunny disposition.
  5. John is always cool towards his friends.
  6. Margaret’s icy stares could freeze a polar bear.
  7. Mark’s actions sometimes leave a bad taste in his friends’ mouths.
  8. Sandy turns her back on just about everyone.
  9. Barb would never turn her nose up at anyone.
  10. Lesley always welcomes her friends with open arms.


3. Alice is angry at her friend Mary Ann. The next time she sees her, she is going to do something to show Mary Ann that she is not happy with her. Below are some possibilities. Finish the sentence with the appropriate idiom.


  1. Alice could tell Mary that she ___ __ __ __ pick __ her.
  2. Alice could  __ Mary Ann __ cold __.
  3. Alice could __ cool __ Mary Ann.
  4. Alice could give Mary Ann __ icy __.
  5. Alice could __ __ back __ Mary Ann.
  6. Alice could __ __ nose __ at Mary Ann.
  7. Alice could tell Mary Ann that she left __ __ __ __ __ mouth


July 12, 2018

'I want to be buried in the smoking section!'


Two brothers had terrorized a small town since childhood. They were upstage (haughty, aloof) and overpowering. Even when they started saying or doing something quietly, that was only the thin end of the wedge (inconspicuous beginning of something unfavorable) They were not badly off for the plunder taken (were rather rich as regarded…). Of course, nobody liked them. With those guys beside you, everyone was feeling the draught (felt uncomfortable).

One day one of the brothers died.  After hearing the news, the town dwellers were making whoopies (celebrated) all night through. It was ever such a celebration (really big). However, the surviving brother offered the local pastor an enormous sum of money if he would praise the deceased AS A SAINT at his funeral. “You catch me doing that!” (I won’t do that) thought the pastor. “It’s perfectly (absolutely) crazy to stay in the town ruled by bandits.” And he disappeared mysteriously.  “All right, you’ll catch it,” (you’ll get it hot) said the other brother threateningly. He was about to go off the top (to lose his temper)

Still, he was dead set on (determined) arranging a proper funeral for his brother. Two days later, Pastor Peter from a nearby town showed up for the funeral, called by the local church to officiate. He felt terribly uneasy about the function he had to perform. “We understand you,” his church seniors said. “But don’t take on so (don’t be concerned, don’t worry). The devil is not so black…” Naturally, Pastor Peter was cornered by the town thug too. “Just tell everyone what a saint my brother was,” he growled, “and you’ll have more money than you know what to do with. Get it?” (did you understand me?)

I won’t mention other details of their talk, which are niggling (petty, irritating) and less important.

The pastor considered the offer. He was definitely for a high jump (faced with a difficulty).  But neither was he slow on the uptake (he was not stupid).  He only consented and pocketed a wad of bills given to him.

The funeral was packed since few dared to be absent, and the service proceeded in routine fashion until Pastor Peter stood to deliver the eulogy.
“This man,” the pastor said, gesturing toward the casket, “was a bully, a thief and a coward. Helping others was not in his line (it wasn’t his habit). He always remained hard-boiled (unsentimental, callous) and hard-bitten (toughened by experience). His choice was to continue living in sin or to die. And I think that his death was lesser of two evils (was a better choice). But compared to his brother, HE WAS A SAINT!”


July 12, 2018

The European Commission has just announced an agreement whereby English will be the official language of the EU rather than German.
As part of the negotiations, Her Majesty’s government conceded that English spelling had some room for improvement and has accepted a five-year phase-in plan that would be known as «EuroEnglish».

In the first year, «s» will replace the soft «c».
Sertainly, this will make the sivil servants jump with joy.

The hard «c» will be dropped in favor of the «k».
This should klear up konfusion and keyboards kan have one less letter.

There will be growing publik enthusiasm in the sekond year, when the troublesome «ph» will be replased with the «f.» This will make words like «fotograf» 20% shorter.

In the third year, publik akseptanse of the new spelling kan be expekted to reach the stage where more komplikated changes are possible.

Governments will enkourage the removal of double letters, which have always ben a deterent to akurate speling. Also, al wil agre that the horible mes of the silent «e» in the language is disgraseful and they should go away.

By the fourth year, peopl wil be reseptiv to steps such as replasing «th» with «z» and «w» with «v».

During ze fivez year, ze unesesary «o» kan be dropd from vords kontaining «ou» and similar changes vud of kors be aplid to ozer kombinations of leters.

After zis fivz yer, ve vil hav a reli sensibl riten styl. Zer vil be no mor trubls or difikultis and evrivun vil find it ezi tu understand vot ech ozer rites.



July 7, 2018

This column continues what was previously named STUMBLING BLOCKS AS STEPPING STONES (the latest entry was on February 7, 2018).

The idea of the column is to help ESL-learners to avoid errors made in speech (out of ignorance or inadvertently), and – by knowing now what is the right variant – become more confident linguistically.

Contemporary English Lesson: The Cat was Sat on the Mat.

*What other stories by Jean Webster have you read except Daddy-Long-Legs?

CORRECT:…besides Daddy-Long-Legs. BUT: I have read all the stories by Jerome K. Jerome except his essay collections


CORRECT: the bourgeoisie


*Mother prepared wonderful dinner

CORRECT… a wonderful dinner. BUT: We had dinner at 7.


*Pupils have dinner at 1 PM

CORRECT: …have lunch at 1 PM


*a bright example

CORRECT: a vivid example


*Bring the dishes to the kitchen! // The mother brought the child to bed.

CORRECT: Take the dishes to the kitchen! // The mother put the child to bed.


*Will you help me to bring the suitcases?

CORRECT: Will you help me (to) carry the suitcases?OR: Will you help me with the suitcases?


*He was sitting before me.

CORRECT: He was sitting in front of me.


*”I bought the phone the week before,” he said.

CORRECT: “I bought the phone last week,” he said. OR: “,,, a week ago.”


*At the beginning he thought…

CORRECT: At first he thought…“At the beginning” is used when it is followed by “of”, or when “of” is understood from the context: “At the beginning of the book,” “Start at the beginning and read until you get to the bottom of page three.”


*The magazine teaches parents how to behave with their children.

CORRECT: …how to behave towards their children


*I trust you will do your best in writing the essay

CORRECT: I trust you will do your best to write the essay


*to pay a big amount for… // a big number of people

CORRECT: “amount” and “number” are used with “small” and “large” , NOT “little” and “big’. So, “a large amount” and“a large number of people.”


*strong/big headache

CORRECT: bad/severe/terrible headache; A bad…etc. headache” (with the indefinite article)  — if it is a sharp attack of pain felt for some shorter time


*it is a big pleasure to…

CORRECT: It is a great pleasure to… “Big” and “large” are not usually used to describe abstract qualities. “Great” is often used instead: great happiness/sorrow/difficulty


*on board of an airplane

CORRECT: on board an airplane


*We booked in a hotel in Istanbul

CORRECT: We booked in at a hotel in Istanbul


*The garage has borrowed me another car while mine is being repaired

CORRECT: The garage has lent me another car…


*Both of them were not telling the truth

CORRECT: Neither of them was/were telling the truth


*It is no good unless the both countries agree to stop fighting

CORRECT: It is no good unless  both (the) countries agree to stop fighting


*I am pleased that my both children have written to me

CORRECT: I am pleased that both my children have written to me. OR: …both of my children…


*a well-known brand of car

CORRECT: a well-known make of car.“Brand” is used for soap, toothpaste, butter, etc. “Make” is used for cars, washing machines, refrigerators, etc.


*They should be here briefly

CORRECT: They should be here shortly. “Briefly” = for a short time, “shortly” = soon.


*She burst in tears

CORRECT: She burst into tears


*He ran down the road and went into a bus

CORRECT: He ran down the road and got on a bus. Get on/off a bus.


*I’m sorry for not replying sooner but I had a business to take care of

CORRECT: … I had some business to take care of.  “Business” (countable) = a shop, company, “business” (uncountable) = matters or duties



*the 8thbus, the 21stroom

CORRECT: bus eight (OR simply: the eight), room twenty-one. However, CORRECT are both “chapter one” and “the first chapter,” “page three” and “the third page.”


*He was busy with writing an essay

CORRECT: He was busy writing an essay. OR: He was busy with an essay


*to buy something for the money one has

CORRECT: to buy…with the money…


*He managed to open the lid by a screwdriver

CORRECT: He managed to open the lid with a screwdriver. DO something WITH a tool, instrument, etc., NOT BY.



July 6, 2018




A bit of history. The English SPEAK is related to the German sprechen. The “r” in the Old Germanic word DISAPPEARED when it started being used on the British Isles. The similar loss of the sound “r” occurred in the Middle English word prange  (pronge) which nowadays has the form pain, but which is preserved as prong(in a pitchfork, for instance).  With the word TALK, however, the picture is the opposite: the diminutive formant “k” was ADDED to the earlier word existing now as tale. The same process of adding “k” is observed in the words hear and smile that ramified into hark and smirk.

In Modern English the demarcation line between SPEAK and TALK is sometimes so clear that even an ESL-beginner can differentiate between the two words: for example, the teacher says, “Stop talking!” and “Speak English!”, in which situations the words SPEAK and TALK are not interchangeable. There is a vast number of set expressions and collocations where these lexical units are fixed: to speak one’s mind, to speak the truth, these facts speak for themselves,  “Could I speak to…” – Speaking!“(phone conversation), plain-spoken, smooth-spoken. Or, on the other hand: the baby can talk, money talks, talk is cheap, chalk and talk(a teaching method when no technical aids are used), to talk the talk and walk the walk(to support one’s talk with equivalent actions), A fool talks, but a wise man speaks, etc.

On the basis of the above examples, a language user can crystallize certain components of meaning which may be assigned to each word in question: “more general, more formal, more one-directional” (for SPEAK) and “more concrete, more informal, more bi- (or multi) directional” (for TALK). These components may be intensified and/or adjusted by the use of the prepositions TO and WITH.  Examples:

  • My wife hates being interrupted when she talks to me(TALK is used with TO activating the component “one-directional” but the word preserves the component “informal”);
  • The health cardiologist will talk with guests about the signs of a heart attack and when to call 911 (according to the situation, instead of TALK WITH the phrase SPEAK TO should have been used, but the more informal TALK and the bi-directional character of WITH “soften” the official character of the cardiologist’s address and imply some feedback on the part of the listeners). Or, in the sentence
  • The toddler often talks with her teddy bear, the direction of communication is definitely one-sided, but the preposition WITH introduces the component of a human dialogue. This “human” component is absent in Artificial Intelligence devices, which is why not WITH but TO is used in the following sentence (though the multi-directionality of the communication is apparent):
  • To make America’s roads safer, cars should talk to each other over a wireless car-to-car network rather than relying on drivers’(CNN).

SPEAK WITH versus SPEAK TO is an interesting example of a divide between the British and American English. The one-sided (and more official) character of SPEAK TO was prevalent in the 18-19thcentury British English, while SPEAK WITH was stigmatized as a lower-class variant. In the American English SPEAK WITH was quite normal for all spheres of usage, but gradually, under the influence of the American English, SPEAK WITH started being more acceptable in the British English. On the other hand, the Americans say that their President SPEAKS TO the nation (not WITH the nation). Although, a British linguist who researched this linguistic phenomenon, says that Laura Bush, the wife of President George W. Bush while speaking on the radio, addressed her audience with the words “I’m so glad to be speaking WITH you!” To the British people, it sounds rather odd.

Since we have touched upon the preposition WITH, as it is used in communication, it’s worth mentioning that the word VISIT is never followed by WITH in the British English: the British people say “to visit friends”, not “to visit WITH friends,” as is the case in the American English (unless two or more people visit a third party, of course). The British English also differentiates between “to MEET” (used on its own) and to “MEET WITH”: I met my friend(e.g. in the street), or I met with him to discuss this problem(a duration of the meeting is implied). In the British English, unfavorable circumstances are emphasized when MEET WITH is used: He met with insurmountable difficulties.




July 5, 2018

i-love-prepositionsIn the previous five sections of 100 MOST FREQUENT WORDS: USAGE NOTES we got a glimpse of the article the, the verb to be, the first-person pronoun I, the prepositions to, for and with and the adjective good.

This time the object of discussion will be the preposition of. It may be used in the “double genitive” construction, like a friend of my father’s or a book of mine. Though this construction is looked down on by some grammarians and usage critics, it can help sort out ambiguous phrases likeBob’s photograph, which could mean either a photograph revealing Bob’s image or a photograph that is in Bob’s possession.a photograph of Bob’s, on the other hand, can only be a photo that Bob has in his possession and may or may not show Bob’s image. There are also cases in which the double genitive may be more elegant. For example, many speakers find a sentence of the type That’s your only friend (that) I’ve ever met to be awkward or impossible, but rephrasing using the double genitive provides an acceptable alternative, as in That’s the only phrase of yours (that) that I’ve ever met.

Adverbs of degree, such as too, that and so, tend to cause a shift in the word order of a sentence under certain circumstances. For instance, it’s common to speak of a long movie or a big deal, but not of *a too long movie” or *a that big deal. The customary way of rewording in these cases is to place the adverb and adjective before the indefinite article rather than after it: too long a movie, that big a deal. Often, especially in speech, an of is inserted as well: too long of a movie, that big of a deal.

 Some speakers of vernacular English varieties, particularly in isolated or mountainous regions of the Southern United States, use phrases such as of a night or of an evening in place of at night or in the evening, as We’d go hunting of an evening. This construction is used when referring to a repeated action, where Standard English uses nights, evenings, and the like, as in We’d go hunting nights. It is not used for single actions, as in She returned at night. These of and -s constructions are related. Sometimes the original -sending remains in the of construction, as in We’d walk to the store of evenings, but usually, it is omitted. In classical literature this kind of usage is registered in Theodore Dreiser’s 1911 novel Jennie Gerhardt: “There was a place out in one corner of the veranda where he liked to sit of a spring or summer evening.”

What is not commonly known by ESL learners is that in American English of may be used to show minutes BEFORE the full hour: ten minutes of three= ten minutes to three. Though more rarely, but also correctly, of may be used in phrases of the type a mile east of here; to speak of something. However, don’t talk about a created piece of art (a book, a song, etc.) using of to indicate the author (painter, sculptor, composer). The preposition by is used in these cases : the latest book by Mark Haddon; the picture by Rubens. Also, we can talk about the capital OF a country, state or province (Kyiv is the capital of Ukraine), but we use IN when talking about a town or a village (He lives in a small town in Southern Ecuador). IN, not OF, is used after superlatives: the tallest building in Europe.


July 5, 2018

Extracts from the book by Thomas W. Adams and Susan R. Kuder

I don't think we can survive here. There's little chance we can afford the taxes.



be a long shot= be a risk that has little chance of success

be like looking for a needle in a haystack= be like looking for something that will be very difficult to find

be out of one’s hands= not be under one’s control

beat the odds= win although one is at a disadvantage

cannot change a leopard’s spots = recognize that a person will not or cannot change

cards stacked against one= an unfair disadvantage

the hand is dealt= out of one’s control or responsibility

have a snowball’s chance in hell= have no chance at all

see the writing on the wall= realize that something will happen

tie one’s hands (usually used in the passive) = make someone unable to do something

Below are several situations that deal with what somebody would like to happen. Each situation is then followed by a question. Answer the question with “yes” or “no.”

  1. Sam missed a lot of classes and failed all his exams. In other words, he has a snowball’s chance in hell of passing the course. Do you think Sam studied?
  2. Mark would like a promotion, but he knows his name is not on the list of people being considered. In other words, he sees the writing on the wall. Do you think Mark’s boss is pleased with his work?
  3. O’Toole, 65, does not want to retire, but the company he works for wants to replace him with a younger person. In other words, it is out of Mr. O’Toole’s hands. DO you think Mr. O’Toole would continue working of he had a choice?
  4. Lucy is going to ask her boss for a raise even though she knows that business has not been good lately. In other words, she knows it is a long shot. Is it likely that Lucy will get a raise?
  5. Joan is running for president of the student council, but she is competing with two others who are better qualified for the position than she is. Joan has never been on the student council. In other words, the cards are stacked against her. Do you think Joan will win the election?
  6. Ted went to the racetrack and bet all his money on a horse that has never won a race. Ted had a feeling that today the horse would come in first. In other words, he tried to beat the odds. Do you think Ted’s chances of winning were small?
  7. Gary made a serious mistake at work and his manager fired him. Gary did everything he could to get re-hired, but his manager would not listen to him. In other words, the hand was dealt. Do you think Gary was able to change his manager’s mind?
  8. Alice forgets everything. She promised her friend, Ann, that she would remember to bring the theater tickets, but when they met to go to the play, Alice realized that she had forgotten them. In other words, you cannot change a leopard’s spots. Do you think Ann should have been responsible for bringing the tickets instead of Alice?
  9. Jenny was in her backyard raking leaves and had gathered a huge pile of them when she noticed she had lost an earring. She was sure the earring was in the pile of leaves, so she started looking for it. However, she stopped after fifteen minutes because she knew she probably would not find it. In other words, it was like looking for a needle in a haystack. Do you think Jenny’s chances of finding her earring were good?

COMMUNICATION. Read and discuss the following:

  1. The expression the hand is dealt comes from the game of cards. A “hand” is the number of the cards held by a player, “to deal” means to distribute the cards. Under what circumstances might someone say, ‘The hand is dealt”?
  2. An analogy is a relationship between two things that are otherwise different. Learning a language is different from playing the piano, but learning a language is like playing the piano because both require practice in order for someone to be good at them. So, “Learning a language is like playing the piano” is an analogy. Make several analogies that end with “…is like looking for a needle in a haystack.’
  3. The following is the beginning of a list of situations in which people try to beat the odds. Add to the list. POKER // HORSE RACING // … // …
  4. Many countries have lotteries that help pay for programs that otherwise would not have any money. People buy lottery tickets because they hope to win a lot of money, even though the chance of winning is small. Does your country have a lottery? If so, what program does it support? If your country does not have a lottery, would you like to have one? Why or why not?


July 5, 2018

judge in court


In the traffic court of one of the large Mid-Western cities a lady was brought before the judge to answer a ticket given for driving through a traffic light (= to be fined for breaking traffic rules by driving when she had to stop) at the highest speed ever (= extremely high speed). Miss Mop (that was the lady’s name) was a teacher, and, curiously, the judge in the court appeared to be her former pupil Peter Casey. She remembered him very well. The guy had always been scruffy (= dirty and untidy) and irresponsible. Any teacher’s lesson was an upset apple-cart (= was a complete mess) the moment Pete decided to disrupt it. After being punished, he usually remained quiet for some time and then turned up again like a bad penny (= interfered again in an unpleasant way). All the staff considered Pete to be a dead loss(= it was no use trying: he was hopeless) in terms of education. No pep talk (= a vigorous emotional talk intended to encourage) could stimulate him. He had never been hard at school subjects and didn’t care a jot(= completely disregarded)about what his parents or teachers might say. Justin’s peers were ready to give him a helping hand (and a helping leg too J(= to help him)), but alas, Pete was not a deserving person (= he didn’t deserve being helped). At lessons, he didn’t even have a pencil to write with. “Someone has nicked (= has stolen) my pencil (book, exercise-book, etc.),” was his usual excuse. Often, when he had to give an oral answer, he used a red herring (= talked on quite a different thing to distract the teacher) to lead the teacher away from the main topic of the discussion (“You know, Miss Mop, a UFO landed in my garden last night!”) Actually, everything Justin said had to be taken with a pinch of salt (= you didn’t have to believe all of it). There was always a catch in it (= a concealed trick in an apparently interesting story).

Miss Mop requested an immediate disposal of her case (= asked that her case should be considered right away) in order that she might hasten away to(= rush to) her classes. When Judge Casey saw Miss Mop, a wild gleam came into his eye(= he thought of something mischievous). All to the good (= so much the better)Miss Mop” he said after a moment of silence. “I was in your black boots(=I was in disfavor with you during my school. Now I’ll realize my life-long ambition (= I’ll do what I have always wanted to do). I’ve waited years to have a school teacher in this court. Sit down at the table and write ‘I’LL NEVER GO THROUGH A RED LIGHT’ five hundred times.”

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