Speak English Around Town » LESSON 21 - Taking a Taxi

Taking a Taxi

Ian gets in a taxi. Hes in a big rush because he has an interview in 10 minutes. Unfortunately, he gets stuck in traffic.

Ali: Where are you headed?

Ian: 411 Wall Street.

Ali: Hop in!

Ian: I've got a meeting in 10 minutes. Can you step on it?

Ali: This is the fastest I can go. If I go any faster, I'm going to get pulled over.

Ian: Don't you know some back roads we can take?

Ali: No, this is the best way to go. Oops! That was a close call. That bus almost hit us!

Ian: I've got an interview at 10.

Ali: I hate to break it to you, but there's bumper-to-bumper traffic up ahead.

Ian: Yes, I see that traffic is heavy. What's going on?

Ali: It looks like there was a fender bender. Now there's rubber necking.

Ian: What rotten luck!

Ali: We're only five blocks away. It'll be quicker if I let you out here and you run the rest of the way.

Ian: Okay. Here's 10 bucks. Keep the change.

Idioms
  • back roads
    secondary roads; little-used roads
    Example: Don't take the highway during rush hour. Take the back roads instead.
  • (to) break something to someone
    to tell someone bad news
    Example: I'm sorry to break it to you, but we're not going to get to the airport in time for your flight.
  • bumper-to-bumper traffic
    heavy traffic; so much traffic that one is barely moving
    Example: The drive into the city took us twice as long as usual due to bumper-to-bumper traffic.
  • close call
    a near miss; something that was almost an accident
    Example: A truck entered our lane without signaling, and we had a close call.
  • fender bender
    a small crash between two vehicles
    Example: Last night I had a fender bender in the parking garage, so today I'm taking my car to the repair shop.
    NOTE: fenders are the panels above the front wheels of a car
  • (to) get pulled over
    to get stopped by the police
    Example: Natasha got pulled over for going through a stop sign.
  • Hop in!
    Get in the car!
    Example: You need a ride to school? Hop in!
  • (to) keep the change
    to keep the difference between the charge and the money a customer is giving
    Example: The bill at the restaurant came to $17. We gave the waitress a twenty and told her to keep the change.
  • rotten luck
    bad luck
    Example: I can't believe I've got a flat tire. I've had nothing but rotten luck all day today.
  • rubber necking
    when cars slow down to look at an accident
    Example: A truck was lying on its side on the highway, and traffic was backed up for miles due to rubber necking.
  • (to) step on it
    to go faster (refers to stepping on the gas pedal)
    Example: There's a creepy man following close behind us. Let's step on it and get away from him!
  • traffic is heavy
    there are lot of cars on the road, so the driving is slow
    Example: Traffic was heavy on Route 9 this morning due to an accident.
  • up ahead
    in front of (someone); in the near distance
    Example: I see an ambulance up ahead. There must've been an accident.
  • Where are you headed?
    Where are you going?
    Example: "Where are you headed?" - "I'm going to the mall."
Practice the Expressions

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

  1. I had a fender bender on my way home from work yesterday.
    • a) major crash
    • b) small crash
    • c) broken fender
  2. If everybody would stop rubber necking, traffic would start moving a lot faster.
    • a) slowing down to look at an accident
    • b) driving so carefully
    • c) looking at what's going on all around
  3. I owe you nine dollars. Here's ten. Keep the change.
    • a) Give me back one dollar.
    • b) Give me change when you have it.
    • c) Keep the dollar.
  4. You got a flat tire. What rotten luck!
    • a) How unfortunate!
    • b) How fortunate!
    • c) How strange!
  5. Ninth and Grand Street? Hop in!
    • a) Go that way!
    • b) Get in the taxi!
    • c) Over there!
  6. I hate to break it to you, but this relationship isn't working.
    • a) tell you something you already know
    • b) give you the good news
    • c) give you the bad news
  7. Pam got pulled over for talking on her cellphone while driving.
    • a) thrown in jail
    • b) in an accident
    • c) stopped by the police
  8. A dog ran into the road, and I had a close call.
    • a) almost hit it
    • b) ran it over
    • c) told it to move
  9. Where are you headed?
    • a) Where were you?
    • b) Where are you?
    • c) Where are you going?
  10. I see an accident up ahead.
    • a) in front of us
    • b) behind us
    • c) to the side
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. b
  2. a
  3. c
  4. a
  5. b
  6. c
  7. c
  8. a
  9. c
  10. a
Answer Key
Language Lens: Comparative & Superlatives Adjectives

Comparative Adjectives
Use a comparative adjective to compare two things or people. The word "than" comes before the object of the comparison.

Examples:
This mug is bigger than that one.
My laptop was more expensive than yours.
I thought Jane was older. (Note: here the comparison is implied. I thought Jane was older than she really is).

Form the comparative like this:
With short words (1-2 syllables): add -er to the end of the words. If the last two letters of the word are a vowel + consonant, double the final consonant before adding -er
Examples:
big => bigger
hot => hotter

If the word ends in "y," change the "y" to "i" before adding -er.
Examples:
pretty => prettier
ugly => uglier

With longer words (many 2 syllable words and all 3+ syllable words): add "less" or "more" before the word.
Examples:
graceful => more graceful
intelligent => more intelligent
qualified => less qualified
interested => less interested

Superlative adjectives
Use a superlative adjective to express that something or someone is the most extreme example of something. The word "the" is very often used before superlative adjectives.

Examples:
Jennifer thinks the iPad is the best tablet computer.
That was the most interesting movie I've ever seen!
The biggest pumpkin ever weighed 1,502 pounds.
That was the worst meal I ever ate.

=> While you use a comparative when you are comparing two people or things, you use a superlative when you have three or more people or things.

Examples:
Andrea is the smartest person in her class.
Of the four job candidates, Alex is the most qualified.

Form the superlative like this:
With short words (1 - 2 syllables): add -est to the end of the words. If the last two letters of the word are a vowel + consonant, double the final consonant before adding -est.
Examples:
big => biggest
hot => hottest

When the word ends in a "y", change the ''y" to "i" before adding the -est.
Examples:
pretty => prettiest
ugly => ugliest
scary => scariest

With longer words (many 2 syllable words and all 3+ syllable words): add "least" or ''most" before the word.
Examples:
graceful => most graceful
beautiful => most beautiful
qualified => most qualified

Irregular comparative / superlative forms
Some comparatives and superlatives do not follow the usual pattern. Here are the most common irregular forms:

  Comparative Superlative
good better best
bad worse worst
less lesser least
little (amount) less least
many more most
far (distance) farther farthest
far (extent) further furthest

Examples:
Jason drives an hour to get to work. Of all our employees, he lives the farthest away.
Of all the schools he applied to, Tim is least interested in attending the University of Vermont.
You didn't get a raise this year? Things could be worse. At least you still have your job.
Of all the jobs I applied for, I'm most excited about the one at Google.
You think I'm interested in dating my boss? Nothing could be further from the truth!
Adam is by far the best website designer I know.

Quick Quiz

Fill in the blank with the missing word or words:

  1. Vince is a _____ golfer than Nick.
    • a) best
    • b) better
    • c) more good
  2. Neptune is the _____ planet from Earth.
    • a) furthest
    • b) farthest
    • c) further
  3. Your salary is _____ than mine.
    • a) high
    • b) more high
    • c) higher
  4. That was the _____ movie I've ever seen!
    • a) bad
    • b) worse
    • c) worst
  5. Natalie is _____ than her sister.
    • a) prettiest
    • b) more pretty
    • c) prettier
  6. I don't know who's _____ , Monica or Terry.
    • a) more interesting
    • b) most interesting
    • c) interesting
  7. Brandon bought his fiancée the _____ ring in the store.
    • a) expensivest
    • b) most expensive
    • c) expensiver
  8. Of all the questions on the test, the last one was the _____.
    • a) more difficult
    • b) most difficult
    • c) difficultest
  9. We have two good candidates for the position. Now we need to figure out who's _____.
    • a) more qualified
    • b) most qualified
    • c) qualifiedest
  10. Joel earns _____ money than his younger brother.
    • a) less
    • b) lesser
    • c) the least
Answer Key
  1. b
  2. b
  3. c
  4. c
  5. c
  6. a
  7. b
  8. b
  9. a
  10. a
Answer Key
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