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1. I couldn't help it !!! 19.

Set aside some money


2. They need to be hemmed 20. Wipe out
3. Pay up front 21. Stamp out poverty
4. I am logical and analytical by nature 22. I'm in the dark
5. Top of the line 23. Take after
6. Stand in for him 24. Make ends meet
7. Warm up to you 25. Hit the sack
8. Cut up 26. Can't judge a book by its cover
9. Throw away a golden opportunity 27. Just around the corner
10. Look it up in our address book 28. Tied down with work
11. The teacher's pet 29. I could eat a horse
12. Back on our feet 30. Lay your cards on the table
13. I am working out 31. A close shave
14. She cannot make it 32. A far cry from
15. He has been told off before 33. Daylight robbery
16. In mint condition 34. A stone's throw away
17. Lost your marbles 35. Hanging out
18. Smelt a rat 36. Popping the question

I couldn't help it !!!

Daryl I am upset. Somebody told my boss I have a part-time job.


Smith And he doesn't like that ?
Daryl No, he doesn't. He thinks that I am too tired to work.
Smith I am sorry. I have to admit I told him.
Daryl You told him ? Why ?
Smith I couldn't help it. He asked me point-blank.

Explanation :

If you can't help the way you feel or behave, you cannot control it or stop it from happening. You can
also say that you can't help yourself.

If you say something point-blank, you say it very directly or rudely, without explaining or apologizing.

They need to be hemmed !!!

Customer I'd like to get these pants altered.


Clerk Do they need to be shortened or lengthened ?
Customer I need them shortened about 5 centimeters.
Clerk Please put them on, and I'll mark where they need to be hemmed.
Customer Alright. I'll be out in a moment.

Explanation :
Hem - An edge or border on a piece of cloth, especially a finished edge, as for a garment or curtain,
made by folding an edge under and stitching it down.
Example : I need to hem those curtains.

Pay up front !!!

Customer What do I need to rent a mailbox ?


Clerk Your passport or ARC, your chop, and you have to fill out these papers.
Customer What else should I know ?
Clerk You have to rent the mailbox for at least one year which will cost $50. There is also a $50
deposit for the key.
Customer So I have to pay $100 in total right now ?
Clerk Nope. You only have to pay a half year's rent up front.

Explanation :
Up front - Paid in advance
Example : We need at least half of the money for the production up front.

I am logical and analytical by nature !!!

Phil Good morning, pleased to meet you.


Scholes Likewise, Phil. Please sit down and we’ll begin.
Phil OK, great.
Scholes Why do you want to pursue a career in personal banking, Phil ?
Phil Well, I’m very interested in financial matters. Finance is so important because it affects every
aspect of our lives, which I find fascinating. Also, it seems that personal banking would best suit my
personality, as I am logical and analytical by nature. I’m very good with numbers, and I enjoy working
with statistics. However, I am also a team player, and being a personal banker would enable me to fuse
these different aspects of my personality together.
Explanation :
By nature - Someone's nature in their character
Example : He is by nature inclined to be rather lazy.

Top of the line !!!

Customer

Can you recommend some hair-care products ? I want to get rid of these split ends.
Stylist These are SuperHair products. They are top of the line. They are a little more expensive, but
they're worth every penny.
Customer How much is the conditioner ?
Stylist One bottle is $650.
Customer OK. I'll take a bottle of the conditioner.

Explanation :
Top of the line - The best in a range of similar products
Example : This is just one example of the top of the line medical products on the Internet.

Stand in for him !!!

Class Monitor Pay attention everyone. Mr. Lee is away on a course, so tomorrow Mr. Roy will stand in
for him.
Stanley Mr. Roy ? But we can never understand what he's saying. He speaks too softly.
Class Monitor There's nothing we can do about it. Whether you like him or not, you have to put up with
him until Mr. Lee comes back.
Stanley I guess you are right.

Explanation :
Stand in - to do the job that another person was going to do or usually does because they cannot be there
Example : Paula stood in for Jane, while Jane was on holiday.

Warm up to you !!!

Salsa Hi, Ellen. I'm Salsa. How are you coping with your change in environment ?
Ellen Well, it is a little different here from my former school. I'm from a small town, you see, and I
find that people here are not as friendly as they are back home. I find I cannot get along with many of
our classmates.
Salsa Don't worry. I think most of them are just as shy as you are. They'll soon let up and eventually
warm up to you. Come, I'll introduce you to them.
Ellen Thank you, I'd really appreciate that

Explanation :
Warm up to - Become friendlier
Example : I had a hard time warming up to my mother-in-law.

Cut up !!!

Jeffrey What has happened to Adam ? I haven't seen him for awhile.
Samuel He was caught playing truant and smoking in the school premises. Apparently, he picked
up the habit when he fell in with the wrong crowd in school.
Jeffrey No wonder he hasn't been coming to school regularly. Has he been suspended ?
Samuel Yes, for two weeks. I met his father yesterday. He was quiet cut up about his son's
behavior.
Jeffrey This is unfortunate. Adam used to be a good student. We must help him when he returns.
Samuel Yes, we must.

Explanation :
Cut up - distressed, upset
Example : Philip was very cut up about his grandmother's death.

Throw away a golden opportunity !!!

Suria Why did you turn down the promotion at your office ?
Dina I really wanted the job but I couldn't get along with the boss.
Suria What's wrong with him ?
Dina He's too demanding.
Suria All bosses expect a lot from employees. You do realize that you're throwing away a golden
opportunity, don't you ?
Dina Don't worry, I know what I'm doing.

Explanation :
Throw away - to waste an opportunity
Example : She's thrown away her inheritance on all kinds of foolish enterprises.

Look it up in our address book !!!


Mrs. Nai Dear, I ran into Mandy just now. She needs to borrow this cake mixer.
Mr. Nai And what has this to do with me ?
Mrs. Nai I'm hoping you can drop off the cake mixer on your way to work.
Mr. Nai Sure, but I don't know where she lives.
Mrs. Nai Just look it up in our address book by the telephone. Thanks, dear.

Explanation :
Look it up - to try to find a piece of information by looking in a book or on a computer
Example : If you don't know what the word means, look it up in a dictionary.

The teacher's pet !!!

Class Monitor The class party next Saturday has been called off.
Sue Why ?
Class Monitor Apparently, Mrs. Chan is very angry that no one turned up for the planning meeting last
Monday.
Lynne Don't worry, I'll talk it over with her. I'm sure she'll understand.
Sue Yes, Lynne, you should go and see Mrs. Chan. You are, after all, the teacher's pet.

Explanation :
Teacher's pet - a student in a class who is liked best by the teacher and therefore treated better than the
other students.

Back on our feet !!!

President I'm sad to say that our club has run out of funds for this year.
Valerie We can always organize more fundraising projects. Why don't we put up a concert ?
We'll need volunteers, though.
Jerald That's a good idea. You can count me in to help out.
President That's the spirit ! With such enthusiasm, we'll be back on our feet in no time.

Explanation :
Back on ( our ) feet - to be healthy again after a period of illness
Example : "We'll soon have you back on your feet again, " said the nurse.

I am working out !!!

Father What are you doing upstairs, Billy.


Billy I'm working out in my room.
Father Shouldn't you be studying instead ? You really need to brush up on your Maths.
Billy I'll get to that later, Dad. Just give me another 30 minutes.
Father Alright, but you had better start studying by 8.30 p.m.

Explanation :
Work out - to exercise in order to improve the strength or appearance of your body
Example : Harry works out in the gym two or three times a week.

She cannot make it !!!

Prefect Excuse me, is this the Community Service Club ?


Philip Yes.
Prefect I have an announcement to make.
Suresh What is it ?
Prefect Mrs. Lim just called to say that she cannot make it today because something unexpected
has come up.
Sara Oh no ! I guess we'll have to put off the meeting until later.

Explanation :
She cannot make it - She is not able to come.

He has been told off before !!!

Perry Did you hear that Jonathan has been called to the headmaster's office again ?
Isaac No way !
Perry It's true, he was caught cheating in his exams.
Isaac Why doesn't he learn from his past mistakes ? His parents will be so sad.
Perry Yes. He has been told off before but he doesn't seem to have changed, hasn't he ?
Isaac He should not let his parents down.

Explanation :
Tell off - criticize harshly, reprimand
Example : It's time someone told her off about her behavior

In mint condition !!!

Puvan What's the going price for that stamp ?


Mr. Amos This is a rare stamp but I'm willing to let it go for $500.
Puvan That's too high a price !
Mr. Amos You have to understand, it's still in mint condition. My last offer is $450. Hurry, before it
gets snapped up.

Explanation :
In mint condition - perfect, excellent condition
Example : This car is in mint condition.

Lost your marbles !!!

Mother Have you lost your marbles ? What are you doing dressed like that ?
Ross Oh, Mother ! I'm just trying on a few things for the cocktail party I have to attend.
Mother Why the coat and tie ? Are you going to rub shoulders with some VIPs ?
Ross You never know who's going to be there. I don't want to look like a fish out of water.

Explanation :
Lose your marbles - to become crazy.

Smelt a rat !!!

Father Why is it pitch black in here ?


Wendy There's been a blackout, Dad. Why don't you come to the kitchen ?
(Father walks slowly to the kitchen.)
Everyone SURPRISE !! Happy Birthday !
Father Thank you, everyone. This is indeed a surprise but I should have smelt a rat when I saw so many
shoes outside.

Explanation :
Smell a rat - to recognize that something is not as it appears to be
Example : He's been working late with her every night this week -- I smell a rat !
Set aside some money !!!

Wendy What should we do after our examinations ?


Yani I'm thinking of taking up scuba diving.
Wendy That sounds interesting but which center are you planning to go to ?
Yani There is a scuba diving school set up by an ex-student of our school. It's somewhere in New
Jersey.
Wendy I hear that scuba diving classes are expensive.
Yani Yes, but I've set aside some money for this.
Wendy Then you go ahead, Yani. I don't think I can afford it.

Explanation :
Set aside - reserve for a special purpose
Example : We have to set aside some chairs for latecomers

Wipe out !!!

Remesh Did you watch the documentary on tsunamis last night ?


Charles Yes, it was scary how the tsunami wiped out entire villages.
Remesh So many villages were cut off from rescue teams because roads and bridges were swept
away by the raging waters.
Charles Did you see the clip of the family who were having a picnic on the beach in Aceh.
Remesh It was so sad to see how their family outing ended up in tragedy.

Explanation :
Wipe out - to destroy something completely.
Example : One bad harvest could wipe out all of a grower's profits for the previous two years.

Stamp out poverty !!!

Suresh Look at the number of homeless people on the streets. It's sad to see them lying around without a
home to go back to.
Alvin I wish there was a way to stamp out poverty.
Suresh Isn't the government responsible for this matter ?
Alvin Well, I think the government is trying to work out a program for them, but you know, the
responsibility also lies with all of us. We must not turn a blind eye to the situation.

Explanation :
Stamp out - to get rid of something that is wrong or harmful
Example : The new legislation is intended to stamp out child prostitution.

I'm in the dark !!!

Zainal Why is there such a jam today ?


Osman I'm in the dark as well.
Zainal Try moving closer so I can get a better look.
Osman Oh no ! Look, a car has turned turtle.
Zainal Can you make out if anyone's injured.
Osman No, there are too many people there.

Explanation :
In the dark - to not know about something that other people know about
Example : I was in the dark about their plans.
Take after !!!

Sally Mark was called up again to Mr. Allen's room. Apparently, he went against his class teacher
again.
Joey They say he takes after his elder brother, Bobby. He too used to get into a lot of trouble in
school.
Sally But Mark was lucky this time. He was let off with just a warning.
Joey Yes, but when word gets around, he's going to have a bad reputation.

Explanation :
Take after - follow the example of, resemble
Example : Bill took after his uncle and began working as a volunteer for the Red Cross.

Make ends meet !!!

Sandy Have you noticed a change in Vivian lately ?


Gowrie Yes. She looks run down.
Sandy Do you know why ?
Gowrie I heard her husband was laid off three months ago.
Sandy No wonder. How is she managing ?
Gowrie She has taken on two jobs to make ends meet.

Explanation :
Make ends meet - to have just enough money to pay for the things that you need
Example : On that salary Enid had trouble making ends meet.

Hit the sack !!!

Alan Carl, what's the matter with you ? You look so worn out.
Carl Indeed I am. I've just returned from a camp. I can't wait to hit the sack.
Alan Yes, you do look exhausted. Well, I'd better be getting along then.
Carl Thanks. See you.

Explanation :
Hit the sack - go to bed
Example : I usually hit the sack after the eleven o'clock news.

Can't judge a book by its cover !!!

Miss Wong Have you heard the news ?


Janet What ?
Miss Wong The new guy has been given the sack.
Janet Why ?
Miss Wong Remember some of our documents have been going missing ? Well, last night he was
caught red-handed stealing them by our security guard.
Janet I can't believe the culprit is that guy. He seems such a nice man.
Miss Wong Well, you can't judge a book by its cover.

Explanation :
Can't judge a book by its cover - you cannot know what something or someone is like by looking only
at their appearance.

Just around the corner !!!


Mandy The school holidays are just around the corner. What are your plans ?
Leslie I'm heading for New York with my family. What about you ?
Mandy I'm going to California to spend some time with my ex-classmate. It's about time for me
to catch up on what he's been doing since he moved there.
Leslie Alright, I'll se you when you get back.
Mandy Bye.

Explanation :
Just around the corner - not far away, going to happen soon
Example : Everything is a bit depressing at the moment, but I carry on in the belief that good times are
just around the corner.

Tied down with work !!!

Agatha Doctor, my son seems to be having trouble sleeping. He stays up until 3 or 4 in the
morning.
Doctor Is he tied down with a lot of work ?
Agatha Not really. He has the same amount of work as other students. But the problem with him
is he dozes off in school.
Doctor The teachers must not be happy. Why don't you suggest listening to some music before
bedtime ? Besides that, cut down on television and video games at night.
Agatha I'll try that. Thanks, doctor.

Explanation :
Tie down - to limit someone's freedom
Example : He's tied down by having to work every Saturday.

I could eat a horse !!!

Tom Ah ! Finally, we can see some houses.


Nick Yeah, after the long walk, I am dying for a glass of iced lemon tea.
Min Me too.
Tom I want something to eat. I could eat a horse.
Nick Look, fast food !
Min Let's make a beeline for it. I'm famished.
Tom Come on, let's go.

Explanation :
I could eat a horse - used to say that you are extremely hungry
Example : I've had nothing but a sandwich all day - I could eat a horse.

Lay your cards on the table !!!

Lok Stop it, boys ! We won't get anywhere if we keep on arguing.


Ja Ian, you have something to say ? Lay your cards on the table. Let's see if it is feasible.
Ian I suggest that we take the train there since most of us have never been on one.
Shu That's a sound idea.
Lok Yes, it seems all right to me too. Anyone else game for it ?

Explanation :
Lay your cards on the table - be open and honest
Example : John laid his cards on the table and told her how much they could afford.
A close shave !!!

Siva The journey took us eight hours. We nearly did not make it for the wedding.
Cynthia At least you arrived safely, even if you arrived at the eleventh hour.
Siva There were many accidents on the road. we almost got involved in one. It was a close shave.
Cynthia Drivers need to be patient, especially when traffic is heavy.
Siva I nearly blew my top too. It's not easy to stay calm when you're stuck in a car for eight hours !

Explanation :
Close shave ( call ) - when you come extremely close to a dangerous or unpleasant situation or only just
manage to avoid it
Example : I had a close shave this morning, - some idiot almost knocked me off my bike.

A far cry from !!!

Sunita Did you hear about Yvette ? Her boyfriend forgot her birthday and now she's giving him the cold
shoulder.
Yuz But don't you feel sorry for the boyfriend ? He's henpecked by Yvette.
Sunita She complains that he's a far cry from her ex-boyfriend.
Yuz Yes, Yvette is never satisfied with what she has.

Explanation :
A far cry from - very different from
Example : Thinking someone is stupid is a far cry from saying so.

Daylight robbery !!!

Mr. Quah How much is this pair of jeans ?


Salesgirl It's only $80.
Mr. Quah What ! That's daylight robbery !
Salesgirl No, sir, that's actually very cheap for a pair of Leevi's.
Mr. Quah Not when you have to foot the bill equivalent to three pairs ! Keep in mind, when you
have three teenage sons, they'll demand a new pair every so often !

Explanation :
Daylight robbery - a situation in which you are charged a lot too much for something
Example : The amount you're asking for this couch is daylight robbery.

A stone's throw away !!!

Harith Are you doing anything this weekend ?


Suhaimi No, I'm free, unless something crops up. Why ? What do you have in mind ?
Harith I'm thinking of getting Vishnu a present. Would you like to chip in ?
Suhaimi Sure, why not ? Where do you plan to go ?
Harith I thought of going to Parkson Complex. It's a stone's throw away. Besides, the prices are
reasonable.
Suhaimi That's great ! I'm trying to cut down on my monthly expenses.

Explanation :
A stone's throw away - a short distance

Hanging out !!!

Zethy Why are all of you looking glum ?


Farah Pak Tam's place is closing down soon.
Zethy Really ? Oh no ! This is our favorite meeting place. We've been hanging out here for years.
Josef We heard that this whole place is going to be torn down to make way for new office blocks.
Zethy That's the worst news I've heard all week.

Explanation :
Hang out - to spend a lot of time in a place or with someone
Example : I've been hanging out backstage with the band.

Popping the question !!!

Beth How are things with you and Daisy ?


Ashley Things with Daisy and me are great…perfect, actually.
Beth How long have you been seeing each other ? I forgot.
Ashley About two and a half years, and I know we'll eventually tie the knot.
Beth When do you think that will be ?
Ashley Well, I plan on popping the question on her birthday, but don't tell her. It will ruin the
surprise.
Beth What exciting news ! My lips are sealed !

Explanation :
Pop the question - ask someone to marry you
Example : He picked Valentine's Day to pop the question
Tie the knot - Get married
Example : So when are you two going to tie the knot ?