Phrasal verb: sort out

  1. sort something out
    Transitive, Separable
    Meaning: to organize, resolve a problem
    Example: We need to sort everything out before we can move forward.

Do you think that men or women are better at sorting things out?

Why Men Should Not Write Advice Columns—something funny I found on the Internet (

Dear Mr. Helpful,

I hope you can help me. The other day I left for work leaving my husband in the house watching TV as usual.  I hadn’t gone more than a mile down the road when my car stopped moving.  I walked back home to get my husband’s help. When I got home I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was in the bedroom with the neighbor making love to her.  My husband and I have been married for twelve years. When I confronted him, he admitted that he’d been having an affair for the past six months.  I told him to stop or I would leave him.  I love him very much, but since I said this he has become distant. I don’t feel like I can talk to him anymore.

Can you please help?

Concerned wife

Dear Concerned wife,

A car stopping after being driven a short distance could have been caused by a problem with the engine.  You should have called a mechanic!  Next time this happens, you should start by checking that nothing is caught inside the fuel line.  If it is clear, you should check under the hood of the car.  If this does not solve the problem, it could be that the fuel pump is broken. I hope this helps!

Good luck,
Mr. Helpful


Happy Birthday William Shakespeare!

Did you know that Shakespeare invented over 1500 English words?  Some of these words include: eyeball, alligator, generous, frugal, hurry, and lonely.

He also coined some popular phrases such as:

  • “Fair play” (The Tempest) – Follow the rules, especially in competitions or sports.
  • “All that glitters isn’t gold” (Merchant of Venice) – We usually use this phrase after we discover the fact that something that looks good turns out not to be that great.
  • “Wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve” (Othello) – To be a hopeless romantic (or be open and honest about how you feel) is to wear one’s heart on one’s sleeve.
  • “Break the ice” (The Taming of the Shrew) – Often when you meet someone for the first time, you “break the ice” by asking them questions about themselves.
  • “A laughing stock” (The Merry Wives of Windsor) – To be a laughing stock is to be considered a joke by many people.
  • “Too much of a good thing” (As You Like It) – It is said that “too much of a good thing” (i.e. money, love, food) is not necessarily good for you.
  • “In a pickle” (The Tempest) – To be “in a pickle” is to be in trouble or a situation that you cannot easily get out of.

Are you in amazement?  The word “amazement” was also first introduced by Shakespeare!

For a list of some more words introduced into the English language by Shakespeare, visit:


Phrasal verb: bring down

  1. bring someone down
    make unhappy / to cause to fail (transitive, separable)
    Example: Sometimes watching the news can bring me down.

  2. cheer up
    Transitive, Intransitive, Separable
    Meaning: become happier
    Example: She cheered up when her friend surprised her with ice cream.  Her friend cheered her up with ice cream.

If something is bringing you down, here’s something to cheer you up:

Phrasal verb: try on

  1. try something on
    Transitive, Separable
    Meaning: sample clothing
    Example: I’m going to try on these pants before I buy them.

According to statistics, Americans spend an average of $1000 on clothing each year.  Do you think that you spend more or less than that?  Do you always try clothing on before you buy it?

Phrasal verb: get away (with)

  1. get away
    go on a vacation
    Example: I just need to get away and relax for a while.

      2.  get away with something
Transitive / Inseparable
            Meaning: do something bad without being noticed or punished
            Example: Brian always gets away with cheating on his tests.  I don’t know how the  teacher doesn’t notice.

People often say that the youngest child in the family “gets away with murder.”  This expression means that they can do whatever they want without being punished.  I am the youngest child in my family and I agree with this!


The Origin of 10 Strange American Expressions

Have you ever wondered where some strange American expressions come from?

My English lessons take the cake! (to be the best at something)
Don’t beat around the bush— tell me what happened.  (be deliberately ambiguous or unclear in order to mislead)
Close, but no cigar! (to fall just short of a successful outcome and get nothing for your efforts)
Cut to the chase! (get to the exciting part of the story– skip the boring details)
No dice! (used to show that you didn’t get the results you wanted)
I am gung ho about starting English lessons! (enthusiastic and eager to do something)

I came across this article this morning and found it quite interesting:


Phrasal verb: break down


  1. break down
    Meaning: stop functioning
    Example: His car broke down on the way to California.

Jack Johnson is one of my favorite musicians.  Listen to his song, “Breakdown.”

     2. break down
         Meaning: get upset (intransitive)
         Example: She broke down when she heard the terrible news.

     3. break something down
         Transitive, Separable
         Meaning: divide into smaller parts
         Example: The test is broken down into a speaking, listening and reading portion.   (This sentence is in passive voice).  The teacher broke down the test into three parts.