View Full Version : Speak Like an American #1

Jun 12, 2007, 12:06 PM
Bob’s Day At Work

Bob works as a manager in a furniture store.

Peter, his boss, is not happy about sales. Bob’s

new advertising campaign hasn’t helped. Peter

decides to fire him.

Peter: Bob, I hate to break the news, but our sales were down

again last month.

Bob: Down again, Peter?

Peter: Yeah. These days, everybody’s shopping at our competition,

Honest Abe’s Furniture Store.

Bob: But everything in there costs an arm and a leg!

Peter: That’s true. They do charge top dollar.

Bob: And their salespeople are very strange. They really give

me the creeps!

Peter: Well, they must be doing something right over there.

Meanwhile, we’re about to go belly-up.

Bob: I’m sorry to hear that. I thought my new advertising

campaign would save the day.

Peter: Let’s face it: your advertising campaign was a real flop.

Bob: Well then I’ll go back to the drawing board.

Peter: It’s too late for that. You’re fired!

Bob: What? You’re giving me the ax?

Peter: Yes. I’ve already found a new manager. She’s as sharp

as a tack.

Bob: Can’t we even talk this over? After all, I’ve been

working here for 10 years!

Peter: There’s no point in arguing, Bob. I’ve already made up

my mind.

Bob: Oh well, at least I won’t have to put up with your nonsense

anymore! Good-bye to you and good-bye to this

dead-end job.

Peter: Please leave before I lose my temper!


about to – ready to; on the verge of

EXAMPLE 1: It’s a good thing Bob left the furniture store when he did.

Peter was so angry, he was about to throw a dining room chair at him.

EXAMPLE 2: I’m glad you’re finally home. I was just about to have dinner

without you.

after all – despite everything; when everything has been considered;

the fact is

EXAMPLE 1: You’d better invite Ed to your party. After all, he’s a good friend.

EXAMPLE 2: It doesn’t matter what your boss thinks of you. After all,

you’re going to quit your job anyway.

at least – anyway; the good thing is that...

EXAMPLE 1: We’ve run out of coffee, but at least we still have tea.

EXAMPLE 2: Tracy can’t afford to buy a car, but at least she has a good


NOTE: The second definition of this phrase is “no less than”: There were

at least 300 people waiting in line to buy concert tickets.

(to) break the news – to make something known

EXAMPLE 1: Samantha and Michael are getting married, but they haven’t

yet broken the news to their parents.

EXAMPLE 2: You’d better break the news to your father carefully. After

all, you don’t want him to have a heart attack!

(to) cost an arm and a leg – to be very expensive

EXAMPLE 1: A college education in America costs an arm and a leg.

EXAMPLE 2: All of the furniture at Honest Abe’s costs an arm and a leg!

dead-end job – a job that won’t lead to anything else

EXAMPLE 1: Diane realized that working as a cashier was a dead-end job.

EXAMPLE 2: Jim worked many dead-end jobs before finally deciding to

start his own business.

(let’s) face it – accept a difficult reality

EXAMPLE 1: Let’s face it, if Ted spent more time studying, he wouldn’t

be failing so many of his classes!

EXAMPLE 2: Let’s face it, if you don’t have a college degree, it can be

difficult to find a high-paying job.

(to) give one the creeps – to create a feeling of disgust or horror

EXAMPLE 1: Ted’s friend Matt has seven earrings in each ear and an “I

Love Mom” tattoo on his arm. He really gives Nicole the creeps.

EXAMPLE 2: There was a strange man following me around the grocery

store. He was giving me the creeps!

(to) go back to the drawing board – to start a task over

because the last try failed; to start again from the beginning

EXAMPLE 1: Frank’s new business failed, so he had to go back to the

drawing board.

EXAMPLE 2: The president didn’t agree with our new ideas for the company, so we had to go back to the drawing board.

(to) go belly-up – to go bankrupt

EXAMPLE 1: Many people lost their jobs when Enron went belly-up.

EXAMPLE 2: My company lost $3 million last year. We might go belly-up.

(to) give someone the ax – to fire someone

EXAMPLE 1: Mary used to talk to her friends on the phone all day at work,

until one day her boss finally gave her the ax.

EXAMPLE 2: Poor Paul! He was given the ax two days before Christmas.

(to) lose one’s temper – to become very angry

EXAMPLE 1: Bob always loses his temper when his kids start talking on

the telephone during dinner.

EXAMPLE 2: When Ted handed in his essay two weeks late, his teacher

really lost her temper.

(to) make up one’s mind – to reach a decision; to decide

EXAMPLE 1: Stephanie couldn’t make up her mind whether to attend

Harvard or Stanford. Finally, she chose Stanford.

EXAMPLE 2: Do you want an omelette or fried eggs? You’ll need to make

up your mind quickly because the waitress is coming.

no point in – no reason to; it’s not worth (doing something)

EXAMPLE 1: There’s no point in worrying about things you can’t change.

EXAMPLE 2: There’s no point in going on a picnic if it’s going to rain.

(to) put up with – to endure without complaint

EXAMPLE 1: For many years, Barbara put up with her husband’s annoying

behavior. Finally, she decided to leave him.

EXAMPLE 2: I don't know how Len puts up with his mean boss every day.

real flop or flop – a failure

EXAMPLE 1: The Broadway play closed after just 4 days – it was a real flop!

EXAMPLE 2: The company was in trouble after its new product flopped.

(to) save the day – to prevent a disaster or misfortune

EXAMPLE 1: The Christmas tree was on fire, but Ted threw water on it and

saved the day.

EXAMPLE 2: We forgot to buy champagne for our New Year’s party, but

Sonia brought some and really saved the day!

(as) sharp as a tack – very intelligent

EXAMPLE 1: Jay scored 100% on his science test. He’s as sharp as a tack.

EXAMPLE 2: Anna got a scholarship to Yale. She’s as sharp as a tack.

(to) talk over – to discuss

EXAMPLE 1: Dave and I spent hours talking over the details of the plan.

EXAMPLE 2: Before you make any big decisions, give me a call and we’ll

talk things over.

top dollar – the highest end of a price range; a lot of money

EXAMPLE 1: Nicole paid top dollar for a shirt at Banana Republic.

EXAMPLE 2: Wait until those jeans go on sale. Why pay top dollar?