Speak English Around Town » LESSON 11 - Visiting the Pharmacy

Visiting the Pharmacy

Ann goes to the pharmacy to get medicine for her husband. who has a rash on his back. She talks to Ken. the pharmacist.

Ann: My husband has a rash on his back. It's driving him nuts.

Ken: When did the rash break out?

Ann: Yesterday morning. What do you think it could be?

Ken: It could be any number of things.

Ann: Such as?

Ken: For starters, it could be an allergic reaction to something.

Ann: I recently started using a new brand of laundry detergent. You may have hit the nail on the head!

Ken: If it is small red dots, it may be hives.

Ann: What do you recommend he take for it?

Ken: Is he on anything now?

Ann: No.

Ken: Try an over-the-counter anti-itch cream or a pill like Claritin.

Ann: What if those don't work? What if it gets worse?

Ken: If it doesn't clear up, he should see a doctor. It's probably nothing serious, but better safe than sorry.

Ann: Right! We should nip this in the bud.

  • allergic reaction
    sensitivity to things that come into contact with the body ( causing problems such as rashes, trouble breathing, coughing, etc.)
    Example: Irene had an allergic reaction to some peanuts. Her throat swelled up and she could barely breathe.
  • any number of things
    one of many possibilities
    Example: "What's causing my ankles to swell?" - "It could be any number of things."
  • better safe than sorry
    it's good to be extra careful (to avoid trouble or disaster)
    Example: Check the airline's website to make sure the flight hasn't been canceled. Better safe than sorry.
  • (to) break out (in)
    to appear; to occur (often suddenly)
    Example: Shortly after taking the medication, Karen broke out in hives.
    NOTE: This is often used to describe acne that can suddenly appear on the face, especially among teenagers. Example: Emily was horrified when her face broke out just before the dance.
  • (to) clear up
    to get better; to go away (when talking about problems with the skin, such as a rash or acne)
    Example: Fortunately, Tyler's face cleared up before the school dance.
  • (to) drive one nuts
    to annoy someone very much
    Example: It drives me nuts when people talk during movies.
  • for starters
    to name just one problem or example; for example
    Example: What's wrong with Ted? For starters, his back is killing him.
  • (to) hit the nail on the head
    to be right; to guess correctly
    Example: The doctor hit the nail on the head when she said I needed to start exercising.
  • (to) nip (this, that or it) in the bud
    to stop something before it gets any worse
    Example: Your son has started to spend every night surfing the Web instead of doing his homework? You need to nip that in the bud.
  • on something
    taking medication or prescription drugs
    Example: Nancy is on Claritin for her allergies.
    NOTE: This can also mean that one is taking illegal drugs. Example: That guy on the street corner is in bad shape. I wonder what he's on.
  • over-the-counter
    available on the pharmacy shelf instead of by prescription
    Example: Your headaches are getting worse? Maybe you should start taking a prescription drug instead of over-the-counter medications.
    NOTE: sometimes you will see the abbreviation: OTC
Practice the Expressions

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. How long did it take for your rash to clear _____ ?
    • a) out
    • b) away
    • c) up
  2. Everything went wrong on my date with the doctor I met online. For _____ , he left his wallet at home!
    • a) starters
    • b) beginners
    • c) problems
  3. You hit the _____ on the head when you said Tyler should get that lump on his foot checked out.
    • a) screw
    • b) tack
    • c) nail
  4. There are lots of rumors going around about why Dr. Smith is leaving her job at the clinic. We should _____ them in the bud.
    • a) nip
    • b) clip
    • c) snip
  5. All along, Jill has been taking _____-the-counter medications for her headaches, but now she's going to get a prescription.
    • a) under
    • b) over
    • c) above
  6. "What do you think this pain in my chest could be?" - "It could be _____ number of things."
    • a) all
    • b) every
    • c) any
  7. Jennifer's face broke _____ in a terrible rash.
    • a) up
    • b) out
    • c) down
  8. I have a pain in my lower back. It's _____ me nuts.
    • a) bringing
    • b) beating
    • c) driving
  9. The doctor asked Dennis how long he's been _____ Prilosec.
    • a) in
    • b) with
    • c) on
  10. Get that spot on your back checked out by a doctor. It's probably nothing, but better _____ than sorry.
    • a) safe
    • b) healthy
    • c) well
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. c
  2. a
  3. c
  4. a
  5. b
  6. c
  7. b
  8. c
  9. c
  10. a
Answer Key
Language Lens: "What if"

"What if" questions are a way of asking what will happen in a certain situation. Use it to express worry or concern about a possible outcome. Note that we use the simple present form of the verb with "what if" even though we are referring to events that might happen or are possible in the future.

What if the car breaks down during our trip to California? (NOT: What if the car will break down ... )
What if the movie is sold out by the time we get to the movie theater? (NOT: What if the movie will be sold out ...)
What if nobody volunteers to organize the holiday party? (NOT: What if nobody will volunteer ... )
What if somebody breaks into our house while we're on vacation? (NOT: What if somebody will break ... )
What if I don't get into any of the law schools I applied to? (NOT: What if I will not get into ... )
What if Angela decides to marry Pierre and move to France? (NOT: What if Angela will decide ... )

Here's what happens when you change a statement about the future into a "what if" question:
I'm worried I won't have enough money for college. => What if I don't have enough money for college?
Note how the future tense verb won't (= will not) changes to a present tense verb (don't) in the "what if" question.

Here are more examples, with the verbs in bold:
The company will have layoffs. => What if I the company has layoffs?
Erin will get lost on her way to your house. => What if Erin gets lost on her way to your house?
Nobody will volunteer. => What if nobody volunteers?

Quick Quiz

I'm a "worrywart." A worrywort is someone who worries too much. Re-write my worries so I don't always have to start all my sentences with "I'm worried that." Use "What if" questions instead:

Example: I'm worried that we won't make it to the airport on time.
Answer: What if we don 't make it to the airport on time?

  1. I'm worried that Joe won't get into college.
  2. I'm worried that there won't be enough snow for skiing.
  3. I'm worried that the restaurant will be all booked.
  4. I'm worried that you won't like the movie.
  5. I'm worried that our company will have layoffs next year.
  6. I'm worried that the store will go out.of business.
  7. I'm worried that we'll run out of candy on Halloween.
  8. I'm worried that our flight will be delayed.
  9. I'm worried that my husband will lose his job.
  10. I'm worried that our house won't sell.
Answer Key
  1. What if Joe doesn't get into college?
  2. What if there isn't enough snow fo r skiing?
  3. What if the restaurant is all booked?
  4. What if you don't like the movie?
  5. What if our company has layoffs next year?
  6. What if the store goes out of business?
  7. What if we run out of candy on Halloween?
  8. What if our flight is delayed?
  9. What if my husband loses his job?
  10. What if our house doesn't sell?
Answer Key
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