English Language Lessons

Tips and training suggestions for learning English as a foreign language.

Archive for February, 2012

Idiom of the week- a level playing field

Posted by englishlessons on February 29, 2012

Definition:

An environment in which everyone must follow the same rules and is given an equal ability to compete.

Examples:

We believe there ought to be a level playing field for everyone. This may require changing some laws, which give some companies an unfair advantage.

Before entering that international market, we need to make sure that there’s a level playing field.

Usage note:


The word “level” can also be used as a verb in another version of this idiom.

For example, “They leveled the playing field by changing the business requirements, so that they were aligned with the trade agreement.”

Picture it:

If sports teams are competing on a field that is not level or flat, one side may have the advantage in the competition.

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Idiom of the week – Have someone’s ear

Posted by englishlessons on February 22, 2012

Definition:

have access to and influence with someone

Examples:

Do you think he’s still influential at the company? Does he still have the President’s ear?
She bragged that she had the CEO’s ear and could help me get a job there.

Picture it:

If you have someone’s ear, you are very close to that person, close enough to whisper into her/his ear.

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Idiom of the week – a smoking gun

Posted by englishlessons on February 15, 2012

Definition:

definite proof of who is responsible for something or how something really happened

Examples:

This email was a smoking gun. It proved that he started it.
We can’t find any clear evidence in this case. There doesn’t seem to be a smoking gun.

Picture it:

Before the invention of smokeless gunpowder, smoke coming from a gun or the smell of smoke on a gun showed that it had recently been fired.

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Idiom of the week – Put/lay one’s cards on the table

Posted by englishlessons on February 8, 2012

Definition:

be completely open or honest about one’s position on an issue

Examples:

We decided to be transparent about our position on this issue. We put all our cards on the table.
He surprised me by laying his cards on the table at the beginning of our negotiations.

Picture it:

In a card game you usually can’t see the other players’ cards. You have to make your move or bet based on guesses about your opponents’ cards. If you lay your cards on the table, everyone will be able to see how many points you have.

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Idiom of the week – Go out on a limb

Posted by englishlessons on February 1, 2012

Definition:

Put yourself in a risky position to support someone or something

Examples:

She went out on a limb to recommend this new approach.
I think he’s going out on a limb investing in this new start-up. It’s a bit risky.

Picture it:

Think of climbing a tree and then moving out on a branch or limb. The concern is whether the branch will be strong enough to support your weight. If it isn’t, the branch could break, and you would fall to the ground.

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