Sports Idioms Used in Business English

Sports and business have a lot in common. They both take hard work, are very competitive, and can lead to big successes or failures. It is not surprising that many sports idioms are used in daily American culture and also in business.

An idiom is an expression that is not literal. Therefore, if you don’t know the idiom, it may be hard to understand what someone meant. Studying idioms is an important part of becoming fluent in English.

Here are a couple examples:

1. Front runner

front runner.jpg

The front runner (as you may be able to guess) is the athlete who is in the lead during a race. This person is in front, but hasn’t won yet. A front runner means the favorite or the person who is considered most likely to get or win something.

“I’ve applied for that new management position. Do you think I will get the job?”

“Between you and me, your chances are very good. You are the front runner. Tim applied, too, but he doesn’t have a chance.”

2. The ball is in your court

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In tennis, when the ball is on your side of the court, it is your turn to hit the ball. This is used to mean that it is someone’s turn to take action or make the next move.

“Google wants to buy the app I developed and they will pay me a lot of money. But I think if I keep it, I may be able to make even more money later on. Do you have any advice?”

“I don’t know, Tim. The ball is totally in your court on this one!”

A Few Valentine’s Day (Love) Idioms

The holiday of Valentine’s Day has its first origins going back at least 1,500 years. Originally the holiday honored one or two Catholic saints named Valentine. Today, however, the holiday is associated with romantic love and is celebrated in many countries. (In the US, like the rest of the world, it is not an official federal or state holiday where many people have the day off work.) The holiday is traditionally celebrated on February 14 (that is my mom’s birthday and her middle name is Val!)

Unsurprisingly, there are many idioms, expressions, and phrasal verbs associated with love in English. Here are a few which might help you out, especially on Valentine’s Day!

lovin

ask out (on a date) – to ask somebody out  (or ask out somebody) is to ask them to go on a date with you, as a possible way of starting a romantic relationship with them.

Example: He is too scared to ask her out.

 

chat up – to chat up somebody (or chat somebody up) is to talk to them in a flirtatious way to show you are attracted to them, and to try and make them interested in you.

British and Australian informal English.

Example: I’ve been trying to chat him up all evening but he’s not interested.

 

cuddle up – to cuddle up with someone is to sit or lie very close them in an affectionate way.

Example: I love cuddling up with my husband.

 

eat out – to eat out  is to eat away from home, at a cafe or restaurant. Many people eat out at a restaurant on Valentine’s Day.

Example: Let’s eat out tonight. I know a very good restaurant.

fall

fall for – if you fall for someone you become very attracted to them, or fall in love with them.

Informal English.

Example: She fell for him as soon as she saw him.

 

get together – if people get together they start a romantic relationship.

Example: They got together in 2001 when they were working in Paris.

 

go out together / with – to go out with someone is to have a romantic relationship with them.

Examples:

1. Will you go out with me?

2. They have been going out together for six months.

 

live for – if you live for somebody they are the most important thing in your life.

Example: Marcus lives for his wife: he will do anything for her.

 

move in together / with – to move in together is to start living with someone – usually someone you are having a romantic relationship with.

Example: We’re moving in together in June.

 

 

pour out – if you pour out your feelings to someone you tell them everything about how you are feeling. (Also: “Pour your heart out.”)

Example: She poured out her feelings and told him how much she loved him.

 

run off with – to run off with somebody is to secretly go away with someone in order to live with them or marry them, especially when other people think this is wrong. Often used to show disapproval.

Informal English.

Example: They were only 17 years old when they ran off with each other.

 

settle down – when two people settle down together they set up a life together and perhaps get married, buy a house and start a family.

Example:

Peter and Marcia are settling down and buying a house together.

 

a heart-throb – a heart-throb is a good looking man; usually someone famous who is attractive to very many women.

Informal English

Examples:

1. In my opinion, George Clooney is a heart-throb; but Justin Bieber is not!

2. Many women think the actor Brad Pitt is a heart-throb.

 

a broken heart –  a broken heart (noun) is a feeling of great sadness and despair, especially when someone you love dies or does not love you.

Examples:

1. They broke up last week and she is broken-hearted. (broken hearted = adjective)

2. Three weeks after our grandmother died, our grandfather died of a broken heart

3. His heart is broken because she doesn’t love him anymore.

 

a heart-to-heart – a heart-to-heart talk (noun) is a completely open and honest private discussion between two people.

Example

We had a heart-to-heart talk last night to try and work out our problems.

 

wear your heart on your sleeve – if you wear your heart on your sleeve you are very open about your feelings for someone, and everyone can see how you are feeling.

loves.jpg

 

fall head over heels in love – to fall head over heels in love with someone is to fall in love with them very suddenly, and with great intensity.

Example: I met my husband at university and fell head over heels in love with him on our first date.

 

lovebirds – if two people are clearly very much in love with each other they are often called ‘the lovebirds’. Lovebirds are small parrots that are well known for showing great affection to their mates.

 

puppy love – puppy love is the love or romantic feelings felt for someone by children or young adolescents. Often used in a negative or derogatory way.

Example: It’s only puppy love. They will soon forget about it.

 

Halloween: What does it mean to “go trick-or-treating”?

Halloween is one of the most beloved of American holidays for children and many adults alike. It is officially October 31 every year. However, in recent years, the custom of going from house to house to collect candy has sometimes been moved to a different night (e.g. October 30, November 1, etc.) for different reasons.

Candy or sweets can be called “treats.” At each house, the child in a costume knocks on the door and, when the door is opened, the child often says “trick or treat!” Or they may say: “trick or treat, trick or treat, give me something good to eat!” We also call the action of going from house to house “trick-or-treating.”

The meaning of the phrase “trick or treat” is actually kind of a threat! It means if the child does not receive candy, he or she will play some kind of trick on the people. Actually, the child (normally) has no plans to do anything bad or play any tricks if they don’t get candy — it is just a fun expression. However, some people do not provide candy to children and may simply choose not to answer their door.

If you are living in America, we do encourage you to buy candy ahead of time and plan to answer your door and give a couple pieces of candy to each child. It is a fun part of American culture!

5 EASY TIPS FOR USING YOUR TEST “SCRATCH PAPER”

You are allowed to have up to three pieces of paper at any time to write notes and ideas during the TOEFL exam. Other high stakes tests often allow for use of paper as well. If you are not using this paper, you are hurting yourself. This paper is often called “scratch paper.” If you use up all your paper during the TOEFL test, raise your hand and the test administrator will bring you more. This should happen every time you take the test!!

Taking notes of the TOEFL listening sections and using the scratch paper to prepare your writing and speaking is very important. If it is difficult for you to do it, don’t give up. Deciding that you’re just not going to take notes or use the paper is not a good solution for the average test-taker. Practice, practice, practice, at home! Use listening material — especially the listening CDs or listening material that comes with TOEFL books and practice resources — to take notes.

Write down key words on your scratch paper in the 15 seconds you have to prepare your independent speaking responses.

Brainstorm and/or write an outline on the scratch paper as a way to start the written sections.

While you use this scratch paper, remember these 5 important points:

1.) Write KEY WORDS, not full sentences. You don’t have time to be writing sentences.

2.) Write fast & messy. Only you need to be able to read your words.

3.) Use symbols and abbreviations to reduce writing time. For example, don’t write “money” — instead, you should use the $ symbol.

4.) Use numbers to indicate transition words or phrases you will use in your speaking or writing. For example, in your notes, the number “1” means “first of all.” #2 means “in addition,” or “furthermore,” etc. #3 can mean “finally,” or “last but most importantly,” etc. Doing this saves you time from writing all those words.

5.) In the listening section, often the main idea is the first thing you will hear. This means you should be ready to take notes RIGHT AWAY… so be prepared and practice practice practice starting weeks or months before your test date!

Have questions or want specific advice? Just ask us!