Exercise 3. Find an appropriate definition of the idioms

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Exercise 3. Find an appropriate definition of the idioms


1. who’s who people’s problems people’s identities troublemakers  
2. pull strings cause trouble collect for future use get help from someone important  
3. put an end to put in jail make a law against   stop
4. call the shots use a gun give orders obey  
5. toe to the line behave correctly   walk straight wait
6. go through proper channels call on the radio follow established procedures wait for instructions
7. red tape colorful decorations   loss of freedom complex procedures
8. take that up with remove from give to discuss with
9. throw the book at punish strongly make you study be smarter
10. crack down on break become angry be strict with
11. get out of line cause trouble forget wait too long


Exercise 4. Mark each sentence T for true or F for false


___ 1. Parents should encourage their children to talk back to their teachers as often as they can.

___ 2. People would vote for a leader who promised to put an end to war.

___ 3. People who enjoy calling the shots would be happy working on assembly lines in factories.

___ 4. Soldiers in the army must be prohibited from toeing the line.

___ 5. Red tape is useful during a New Year celebration.

___ 6. Police in many countries are trying to crack down on drug sales.

___ 7. It’s not a good idea to get out of line when visiting a foreign country.

___ 8. People who are included in a book called Who’s Who are probably very influential people.

___ 9. A person who doesn’t know many people will probably be able to pull string easily.

___ 10. People with influential friends don’t always have to go through proper channels.

___ 11. Artistic people are likely to go by the book when they are creating new works.

___ 12. Parents who often throw the book at their children are not strict enough with their children.

___ 13. We might be happy if government leaders call for lower taxes.

___ 14. Some diseases can be alleviated by thinking happy thoughts, according to some health professionals.

___ 15. When we think there is too much homework, we might take it up with the teacher.


Exercise 5.


You are a well-respected lawyer in your country. People travel long distances just to get your advice. Read the summaries of their problems below and write a sentence giving advice, using the idioms in the list.


pull strings throw the book at him go through proper
crack down on them toe the line channels
who’s who red tape call for
take it up with call the shots talk back


1. My son applied to the best university in our country. His grades were very good in high school, and his teachers wrote good recommendation letters for him, but he wasn’t accepted by the school. I asked the director, a good friend of mine, why not. He said there were many qualified applicants, but the school could only accept a limited number. We really want him in that school. What should we do?


2. Our police department has a good reputation for maintaining order in the city. Last week, one of our officers chased a car that was driving too fast on a residential street. The driver almost hit a group of children playing near the street. When the officer finally caught the car, he discovered the driver was the mayor’s son, who had drunk a little alcohol. What should we do? ________________________________________________________

3. My aunt and her family want to immigrate to your country very much. Unfortunately, they haven’t been able to get official permission for this. It would be very easy for them to enter your country without permission, and they have plenty of money. What do you recommend?


4. My apartment is terrible. Sometimes the heat doesn’t work, very often the water doesn’t work, and there are holes in one wall. I’d like the problems to be repaired. Who should I talk to first?


5. I hate my college. It’s one of the most prestigious schools in my

country, but it’s much too strict. Last week they threatened to expel me because I argued with a teacher about a grade she gave me. I’ll be graduating at the end of this year, and I know my future will be assured with a degree from this college, but I can’t tolerate this situation until then. I want to have fun. What should I do?


6. We just had an election in our neighborhood for the Community Council. According to the «official» results, a certain man won. But I happen to know that the election results were «fixed». The election wasn’t honest. There are a few people who know about this. What should we do?


7. Some teenagers in our neighborhood stay out late at night, make a lot of noise, and sometimes threaten people. We’re becoming afraid to go out of our homes at night. We’ve called the police, and they chase the kids away, but the kids always come back later. What should we do?


8. My wife and I want to borrow money from the bank to start our own business. Because the loan is insured by the government, there are dozens of forms and applications to fill out. Isn’t there a simpler way? We don’t want to handle all of that paperwork if we can avoid it.

American slang

The author of NTC’s Dictionary of American Slang and Colloquial Expressions Richard A. Spears says that there is no standard test that will decide what is slang or colloquial and what is not.

Expressions that are identified as slang are often some type of entertaining wordplay, and they are almost always an alternative way of saying something. Colloquial expressions are usually spoken and are often thought as being direct, earthy, or quaint. Slang and colloquial expressions come in different forms: single words, compound words, simple phrases, idioms, and complete sentences. Slang is rarely the first choice of careful writers or speakers or anyone attempting to use language for formal, persuasive, or business purposes. Nonetheless, expressions that can be called slang or colloquial make up a major part of American communication in movies, television, radio, newspapers, magazines, and informal spoken conversation (17, P. 6).

The material for the units of the chapter is partially adopted from «Street talk – 1: How to speak American Slang.»


Read the following dialogue in slang and try to guess the meaning of the underlined expressions

At school

(dialogue in slang)


Anne joins Peggy, who seems totally out of it.


Anne:You seem really **pissed off. What’s up?

Peggy: Just get out of my face, would you?!

Anne:*Chill out! What’s eating you, anyway?

Peggy: Sorry. It’s just that I think I blew the final and now my parents are going to get all bent out of shape. I like totally drew a blank on everything!

Anne:Well, now you’re really going to freak out. When I tell you who aced it...what’s – her-face...the one who always* kisses up to the teacher.


Peggy: Jennifer Davies? Give me a break! I can’t stand her. She’s such a dweeb! How could she possibly ace it when she keeps cutting class all the time?

Anne:She’s the teacher’s pet, that’s why. Besides, he’s so laid back he lets her get away with it. She just really rubs me the wrong way.

And you know what? I think she’s got the *hots for him, too.

Peggy: Get out of here!

Anne:I’m dead serious. Yesterday, before class starts, she walks up to Mr. Edward’s desk and goes, ‘Good morning, Jim.’

Peggy: Oh, *gag me! She’s totally gross!

*Probably not used by anyone over 30

**Slightly off-color


Use the explanations given below and compile the dialogue in standard English


1) ace a test (to) – to do extremely well on a test.

She did extremely well on a test.

2) blow something (to) – to fail at something; or to make a big mistake;

3) chill out (to) –to calm down;

4) cut class (to) – to be absent from class without permission;

5) dead serious (to be) – to be extremely serious

Note: The adjective «dead» is commonly used to mean «extremely», «absolutely», or «directly» in the following expressions only:


dead ahead – directly ahead;
dead drunk – extremely drunk;
dead last – absolutely last;
dead on – absolutely correct;
dead right – absolutely correct;
dead set – completely decided;
dead tired – extremely tired;
dead wrong – absolutely wrong


The usage of «dead» would be incorrect in other expressions. For example: dead happy; dead hungry; dead angry, etc. are all incorrect expressions.

6) draw a blank (to) – to forget suddenly.

7) dweeb – moron, simpleton.

Note: This is an extremely common noun used mainly by young people. Synonym: geek.

What a geek! What an idiot!

8) Eat (to) – to upset; to anger.

9) final –This is a very popular abbreviation for final examination.

10) freak out (to) – 1.to lose control of one’s emotional state, to become very upset and irrational; 2.to lose grasp of reality temporarily due to drugs.

Note: this is an extremely popular expression used by younger people.

11) «Gag me!» – «That makes me sick!» – The expression is used to signify great displeasure.

12) Get all bent out of shape (to) – to become very angry.

13) Get away with something (to) – to succeed at doing something dishonest. For example: He got away with cheating on the test, He succeeded at cheating on the test.

14) «Get out of here!» – 1. «You’re ridding!» 2.«Absolutely not!»

15) Get out of someone’s face (to) – to leave someone alone.

16) Give someone a break (to) – 1.It could best be translated as «you’re kidding!» (annoyance and disbelief); 2.To do someone a favor; 3.To give someone an opportunity for success; 4. To be merciful with someone.

17) Go (to) – to say

18) Gross (to be) – to be disgusting.

Note: This was created from the adjective «grotesque».

19)Hot for someone (to have the) – to be interested sexually someone. Also: to be hot = to be good looking and sexy. He is hot! He is sexy!

20) Kiss up to someone (to) – flatter someone in order to obtain something

21) laid back – calm

22) Like – This is an extremely popular expression used by younger people. It could be translated as «how should I put this...» or «uh...»

For example: He’s like really weird;

He’s, uh...really weird.

23) out of it (to be) – to be in a daze

24) pissed of (to be) – (extremely popular) to be angry.

Note:Although having absolutely nothing to do with urinating, some people consider this expression to be vulgar since it comes from the slang verb «to piss» meaning «to urinate», a most definitely vulgar expression

25) rub the wrong way (to) – to irritate

26) teacher’s pet – the teacher’s favorite student

27) unable to stand someone or something (to be) – to be unable to tolerate someone or something;

28) what’s – her – face – this expression commonly used as a replacement for a woman’s name when the speaker can not remember it.

29) «What’s eating you?» – «What’s the matter with you?»

30) «What’s up?» – «What’s happening?»

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