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Phrases

Why do we say 'get the upper hand'?

Average: 3 (10 votes)

To Get The Upper Hand

If you get the upper hand, you take a dominant position.

There is still some question as to where this saying comes from, but it is generally acknowledged that the phrase originated from American children in playgrounds.

In order to determine who gets first choice of player for their teams when playing baseball, one team captain grabs the bat at the bottom, and then the other captain takes hold above the first’s hand.

Why do we say 'excuse my French'?

Average: 3.1 (9 votes)

Excuse my French

This phrase is used in conversation when someone swears or curses, and is a request for forgiveness for using taboo language.

Of course, both the speaker and the listener are very much aware that whatever was said was in English and not French.

The expression originates from the 19th century, and was used literally.

Chat up lines

Average: 3.2 (17 votes)

A chat up line (or pick-up line in America) is a humourous phrase that someone says to start a conversation with a person they are attracted to.

Chat up lines are an essential part of British pub culture, often used by men and women alike to compliment or start a conversation with someone they are interested in.

They are also, absolutely hilarious!

So here's a fun lesson which contains some of my favourite chat up lines, but with one word missing.

Can you choose which word goes in each one?

How to order a coffee in the UK

Average: 3.4 (11 votes)

All across the UK people are wondering what type of coffee to order today. Some years ago we had lots of cafes serving a nice cup of tea and pretty lousy coffee. Now the UK is overrun with coffee houses serving a bewildering range of refreshing coffees and pretty awful tea.

Business English - Formal Idioms

Average: 3.5 (16 votes)

Read the following short story. Pay attention to the idioms:
Lesson by David, EC London English school

Illness Idioms

Average: 3.1 (13 votes)

I woke up this morning with a terrible head cold. I’m now writing this lesson in bed surrounded by tissues and orange juice and I’m feeling very sorry for myself! So, why not write a lesson based on illness idioms, I thought...that will make me feel better! In the following idioms, which do you think is the correct missing word?
Lesson by Caroline

Give someone a lift

Average: 3.3 (30 votes)

rash

Today we take a look at two meanings of the expression, give someone a lift:

Give someone a lift: to provide transportation for someone e.g. take someone somewhere in your car. Give someone a 'ride' is also used:

Animal Similes – Intermediate Level

Average: 2.5 (15 votes)

How hungry are you? As hungry as an elephant? A wolf? A bear? In this exercise I’m going to introduce you to some expressions using animal similes.

Firstly, match the animals with their definitions.

Web Quotes Research

Average: 2.9 (8 votes)

One of my favourite things to do is read quotes. I like to learn more about the world by thinking about other people’s ideas. So, here’s a slightly different lesson for you! Below, I have written some quotes by famous authors, but a word is missing from each quote. Your job is to use the web to find the missing words.

Dream and Sleep Idioms

Average: 3.6 (10 votes)

This is a follow up to yesterday's Beyonce music lesson. Dreaming and sleeping are both extremely important to me! Here is a list of idioms related to the subject. Can you guess which sentence needs which idiom?