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среда, 12 февраля 2014 г.

"In the end, we're all fruit..." Food expressions in English: part 1

Idioms are colloquial phrases, and their meaning in English cannot be understood literally. Often to express a point or to illustrate something a native speaker will resort to using an idiom. The ironic thing about idioms is that you can't just "pull them out of your hat" any time as they usually come to mind at the time of speaking. 

For English learners, the mastery of idioms often reflects their advanced level. It is common for the idioms to be grouped according to their topic. Today I'd like to offer you 10 food idioms that you can use in everyday English.

  1. As useful  as a chocolate teapot. Use this expression to talk about something that has no value at all and is absolutely impractical. The big decision-makers in the healthcare industry most often have no idea about the day-to-day hospital needs, so the laws they pass are often as useful as a chocolate teapot.
  2. All the tea in China. Use this expression to emphasize that you won't do something no matter what. Are you serious? Jane is NOT going to produce this report. Not for all the tea in China.
  3. All your eggs in one basket. Use this expressions when talking about taking all the risk at once, and not spreading it. When investing into a financial institution it is not wise to put (keep, have) all your eggs in one basket just to prevent a huge loss.
  4. A bad apple. Use this expression to refer to a person who is negative and has negative influence on those around him. Whenever you come across a bad apple on your team you should get rid of it before it spoils the whole bunch. (a full idiom is "a bad apple spoils the bunch").
  5. A bad egg. Use this expression to refer to a person who cannot be trusted. Use "a good egg" as the opposite. "I don't know why he's always looking at my computer screen trying to see what I'm working on." "He surely acts like a bad egg, and I wouldn't trust him with a lot of sensitive information."
  6. Big cheese. Use this expression to refer to your boss or any important person in a group. It can also be used negatively speaking of somebody who thinks too much of him/ herself because of the power he/she has. Oh, I'm so busy this weekend. We have the board meeting with all the big cheeses present.
  7. Bun in the oven. Use this expression to refer to a pregnant woman. Well, she's had a bun in her oven for a little while, but you can't hide it anymore. 
  8. Bring home the bacon. Use this expression to talk about a family member who earns the money for the family. It is not surprising to see many families where mothers bring home the bacon.* 
  9. On the back burner. Use this to talk about a project or activity that is least important at the moment of speaking. As our board had no interest in this project it was put on the back burner. The opposite of "the back burner" is "the front burner". If you keep something on the front burner it means you give it all of your priority.
  10. Apples and oranges. Use this expression to describe the fact that you can't compare two totally different things/concepts. Speaking of Todd and Kendra, I don't think we can even compare their sales strategies. They're totally different. It's like comparing apples and oranges! **
*This expression actually has an interesting history: "In the twelfth century, a church in the English town of Dunmow promised a side of bacon to any married man who could swear before the congregation and God that he had not quarreled with his wife for a year and a day. A husband who could bring home the bacon was held in high esteem by the community for his forbearance." (more on the history of bacon can be found here).

** Speaking of "apples and oranges" I remembered a great example from the movie "My Big Fat Greek Wedding." In the movie, the father of a Greek bride finds it extremely hard to let his daughter marry an American. To him, "apples and oranges" will never be a good match for each other. Yet, in the end, he comes to a wonderful conclusion. You can watch the video to find out! Enjoy!