Speak English Around Town » LESSON 13 - At a Dinner Party

At a Dinner Party

Delayed by traffic, Lori and Mike arrive late to a dinner party. Their hosts, Lisa and Todd, tell them not to worry and then take their drink order.

Lori: I'm sorry we're late. We got held up in traffic on Route 95.

Mike: There was a pile-up on the highway involving three cars. A deer ran across the highway.

Lori: We were sitting in traffic for an hour. We would've been better off walking here!

Lisa: What a nightmare! Come on in and chill out now. Join the party!

Lori: (handing Lisa a bottle of wine): This is for you and Todd.

Lisa: Thank you.

Lori: (handing Lisa a toy car): And this is a little something for your son.

Lisa: Oh, how kind of you! You shouldn't have.

Lori: It's our pleasure.

Todd: Can I get you a drink?

Mike: A drink would hit the spot. What do you have?

Todd: You name it, we've got it.

Lori: I'll take a Bloody Mary.*

Mike: Lori, if you took Tylenol for your toothache, you'd be better off not drinking any alcohol!

Lori: Make that a virgin** Bloody Mary! Hold the vodka.

Todd: And what can I get you, Mike?

Mike: I'll take a vodka on the rocks.

Todd: Coming right up!

* Bloody Mary - a drink containing vodka, tomato juice, and usually other spices or flavorings

** A virgin drink is a mixed drink that does not include the alcohol.

Idioms
  • (to) chill out
    to relax (especially after hard work or a bad experience)
    Example: After taking three tests, I'm ready to just chill out.
    Note: You can also just say "chill" without the "out."
  • coming right up
    I'll bring that immediately
    Example: One cup of coffee coming right up!
  • (to) get held up
    to be delayed
    Example: Sorry I'm late. I got held up in a meeting.
  • (to) hit the spot
    to be just what one wants
    Example: I was really hot. This iced tea really hits the spot!
  • hold the
    do not put in the ______; to not include something that would normally be part of a drink or dish
    Example: I'll take a cheeseburger, hold the onions.
  • Join the party!
    mix with the other guests
    Example: "Join the party!" said Gina as we walked in the door.
  • (a) little something
    a small gift
    Example: I got you a little something for your birthday.
  • on the rocks
    with ice (when speaking of alcoholic drinks)
    Example: Do you want your drink on the rocks?
  • pile-up
    a traffic accident, usually involving many vehicles
    Example: Don't take Route 95. I just heard on the radio that there was a 25-car pile-up by Exit 14.
  • (to) sit in traffic
    to be caught in traffic and unable to drive much, if at all
    Example: Don't leave Manhattan for Long Island at 4 p.m. on Friday. You'll be sitting in traffic for hours!
  • What a nightmare!
    What a bad experience!
    Example: Our flight was canceled, and we ended up spending the night at the airport. What a nightmare!
  • You name it, we've got it
    we have a big selection
    Example: "What drinks do you have?" - "You name it, we've got it!"
  • You shouldn't have
    this is a polite way to respond when somebody gives you something
    Example: "I brought you some chocolates for your birthday." - "You shouldn't have."
Practice the Expressions

Choose the best substitute for the phrase or sentence in bold:

  1. I'll take a Coke. Hold the ice!
    • a) Don't put in any ice!
    • b) Don't forget the ice!
    • c) Make sure it's cold!
  2. Let me know what you want to drink. You name it, we've got it.
    • a) We have a few different drinks available.
    • b) We have a large selection.
    • c) If you tell me what you want, I'll go to the store and get it.
  3. I'd like a vodka on the rocks.
    • a) with rocks
    • b) with ice
    • c) with lemon juice
  4. Come on in and join the party!
    • a) talk with the other guests
    • b) sign up to help at the party
    • c) join our club
  5. I brought a little something for your baby.
    • a) an expensive gift
    • b) a small gift
    • c) a card
  6. Sorry I'm late for dinner. I got held up at the office by an unexpected phone call.
    • a) bothered
    • b) disturbed
    • c) delayed
  7. One cappuccino coming right up.
    • a) I'll bring you the cappuccino you asked for right away.
    • b) I'll take your empty cappuccino cup away.
    • c) I'll bring you the bill for one cappuccino right away.
  8. Did you hear about the pile-up on Route 80?
    • a) road construction
    • b) rush hour traffic
    • c) accident involving many cars
  9. My wallet was stolen in Rome. What a nightmare!
    • a) What an interesting experience!
    • b) What an awful situation!
    • c) What a lousy city!
  10. After working hard all week, I'm ready to just chill out.
    • a) quit my job
    • b) start another project
    • c) relax
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. a
  2. b
  3. b
  4. a
  5. b
  6. c
  7. a
  8. c
  9. b
  10. c
Answer Key
Language Lens: "Better off"

Use "better off" to:
=> Give advice to someone
=> Say what should be done

Form it like this:
would (or 'd) + be + better off+ verb in -ing form

Examples:
Your son would be better off studying in Paris instead of Lyon.
Frank would be better off taking the train instead of the bus to Manhattan.
You'd be better off visiting Italy in November, after all the tourists have gone.
You'd be better off working another year before applying to business school.

=> Use "would have been better off" to say what one should have done (in the past). This is sometimes used to express regret.

Form it like this:
would have (or would've) + been + better off+ verb in -ing form

Examples:
We went to Spain in September, and it rained the whole time. We would have been better off going to Chile instead.
Sharon would've been better off getting her MBA instead of a law degree.
The fish at the Creekside Restaurant was lousy. I would've been better off ordering a hamburger.
My college was very small. I would've been better off going to a larger school.

Quick Quiz

PART A: Practice giving advice using "You'd be better off''

Example:
Joe: Should I take a taxi or the subway to the museum?
You suggest the subway:
Answer: You'd be better off taking the subway.

  1. Mark: I'm thinking of applying to business school.
    You suggest law school:
    _____
  2. Ashley: I'm thinking of studying abroad in Shanghai.
    You suggest Beijing:
    _____
  3. Ken: Should I go to India in August?
    You suggest October:
    _____
  4. Diane: Should I rent an apartment or buy a house?
    You suggest she rent an apartment:
    _____
  5. Justin: I just met Tiffany last month, but I'm thinking of asking her to marry me!
    You suggest he wait:
    _____

PART B: Say what should have been done in different situations. Rewrite the sentences using "would've been better off"

Example: Doug bought a house. He should have rented instead.
Answer: He would've been better off renting instead.

  1. You bought a PC? You should have bought a Mac.
    _____
  2. We opened an office in Russia. We should have opened an office in India instead.
    _____
  3. We vacationed in Hawaii. I wish we'd gone to France instead.
    _____
  4. Jim went to Princeton. He should have gone to Harvard.
    _____
  5. Amber quit school to become an actress. She should have stayed in school.
    _____
Answer Key
Part A
  1. You'd be better off applying to law school.
  2. You'd be better off studying abroad in Beijing.
  3. You'd be better off going in October. OR: You'd be better off going to India in October.
  4. You'd be better off renting an apartment. OR: You'd be better off renting.
  5. You'd be better off waiting. OR: You'd be better off waiting to ask her to marry you.
Part B
  1. You would've been better off buying a Mac.
  2. We would've been better off opening an office in India (instead).
  3. We would've been better off going to France (instead).
  4. He would've been better off going to Harvard.
  5. She would've been better off staying in school.
Answer Key
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