Speak English Around Town » LESSON 25 - Reacting to Bad News

Reacting to Bad News

Jenny runs into her friend Carol in the supermarket. Jenny asks. Carol how she's been and Carol tells her all her bad news. Jenny responds with sympathy and offers her support.

Jenny: Hi, Carol. How's life been treating you?

Carol: I've been better. I'm going through a rough patch.

Jenny: Sorry to hear that. What's going on?

Carol: My husband and I are splitting up. I found out he's been cheating on me for years with his receptionist.

Jenny: I'm speechless!

Carol: Fortunately, I wasn't speechless when I found out. I gave him a piece of my mind!

Jenny: Good! And how's your son John doing? Did he manage to find a job since we last spoke?

Carol: No such luck. Poor John fell off the roof a couple weeks ago while doing some repairs and broke both his legs!

Jenny: You must've been beside yourself!

Carol: I was a basket case for several days. Now he's on the road to recovery, but it's going to take a while.

Jenny: If you ever want to talk, just give me a call.

Carol: I would enjoy getting together.

Jenny: Okay. I'll stop by later this week.

Idioms
  • basket case
    an emotional and/or physical mess
    Example: After her house burned down, Donna was a basket case.
  • beside oneself
    very upset
    Example: When Tracy's boss told her she wasn't doing a good job, she was beside herself.
  • (to) cheat on someone
    to have romantic relations on the side, with somebody other than one's partner
    Example: After Nancy read the text messages on her husband's cell phone, she realized he was cheating on her.
  • (to) find out
    to discover facts about someone or something
    Example: I just found out that Tanya is pregnant.
  • (to) get together
    to meet with someone (usually socially)
    Example: I'd love to get together on Saturday if you have time.
  • (to) give someone a piece of one's mind
    to tell someone what one really thinks
    Example: Our waiter has been really slow all evening. I'm going to give him a piece of my mind!
  • (to) go through a rough patch
    to have a lot of problems during a time period; to experience a period of bad luck
    Example: Joe lost his job last week and this week his girlfriend broke up with him. He's going through a rough patch.
  • How's life been treating you?
    How are you?; How've you been?
    Example: "How's life been treating you?" - "Can't complain."
  • I've been better
    things are not going well for me
    Example: "How are you doing?" - "I've been better."
  • no such luck
    we haven't had good fortune in that area; we haven't been so lucky
    Example: "Did your boss let you out early for the holiday weekend?" - "No such luck."
  • (I'm) sorry to hear that
    that's too bad; I feel bad for you
    Example: "I got fired yesterday." - "Sorry to hear that."
  • speechless
    unable to speak due to surprise; shocked
    Example: After being fined $300 for a speeding ticket, Wendy was speechless.
  • (to) split up
    to break up; to end a marriage or other intimate relationship
    Example: After years of fighting, Irene and her husband finally split up.
  • (to) stop by
    come over (often for a short visit)
    Example: If you're in my neighborhood on Saturday, please stop by.
  • on the road to recovery
    starting to get better
    Example: Stephanie was sick with the flu for a week, but now she's on the road to recovery.
Practice the Expressions

Choose the most appropriate response to the following:

  1. Did you know that Sara and her husband are splitting up?
    • a) No, what are they splitting?
    • b) No, do you know what happened?
    • c) No, why didn't anybody tell me this good news?
  2. If you get a chance, stop by over the weekend.
    • a) Okay, I'll come over.
    • b) Sure, I'll stop it.
    • c) Okay, I'll spend all weekend with you.
  3. Nick was sick for months, but now he's on the road to recovery.
    • a) I'm sorry to hear he's not improving.
    • b) I'm glad to hear he's able to travel again.
    • c) I'm glad to hear he's getting better.
  4. Your son has dropped out of Harvard and joined the military? I'm speechless!
    • a) We were very surprised too.
    • b) We weren't surprised either.
    • c) We agree that it's very exciting.
  5. Ron just lost his job after 25 years at the same company. He's beside himself.
    • a) I can understand why he's upset.
    • b) Right. He was ready to leave that job.
    • c) I'm glad to hear he isn't too upset.
  6. Brenda just found out that her husband has been cheating on her for years with his secretary.
    • a) Do you think she'll leave him?
    • b) Do you think Brenda likes the secretary?
    • c) Do you think she's happy about this?
  7. Grace has been a basket case since losing her job.
    • a) I'm glad she's doing well.
    • b) I hope she'll start feeling better soon.
    • c) She didn't really like that job anyway.
  8. I was hoping I'd win the big lottery jackpot, but no such luck.
    • a) You won? Congratulations!
    • b) You didn't win? That's surprising.
    • c) Oh well. There's always next time!
  9. You've been sick all week? Sorry to hear that.
    • a) Thanks.
    • b) Sorry I told you.
    • c) You could be more sympathetic.
  10. I've been going through a rough patch lately.
    • a) Things have been fine with me too.
    • b) I'm glad to hear it.
    • c) Sorry to hear that. What's going on?
Answer Key
Practice The Expressions
  1. b
  2. a
  3. c
  4. a
  5. a
  6. a
  7. b
  8. c
  9. a
  10. c
Answer Key
Language Lens: When Two Verbs Are Together

When there are two verbs in a row (one after the other), the second verb is sometimes in the infinitive form ("to" form) and sometimes in the gerund form ( ending in -ing). The first verb determines (Verb 1) the form of the second verb (Verb 2). Study these two tables with common verbs.

Verb 1 + Verb 2 in the Infinitive ("to" form)
Verb 1 Verb 2 is in the infinitive
agree I agreed to pick Sue up from the airport.
cause What caused Nick to break out in a rash?
deserve We deserve to know why the company is closing.
expect When does your son expect to graduate?
hope We hope to visit some castles on our trip to Ireland.
learn Lisa learned to ski on her vacation.
offer Please offer to help bake cookies for the bake sale.
manage Did you manage to get to the airport on time?
promise I promise to call you as soon as we arrive in Paris.
want What do you want to do this weekend?
Verb 1 + Verb 2 in the Gerund (-ing form)
Verb 1 Verb 2 is a gerund
appreciate We appreciated having a great tour guide in China.
avoid Let's avoid getting food poisoning on our trip.
consider We considered renting instead of buying a house.
enjoy John enjoys surfing in Big Sur .
feel like What do you feel like doing today?
finish When you finish watching the movie, let me know.
mind Do you mind going to the store?
recommend I recommend exploring Chicago by foot.
suggest I suggest building a new website.
think You think getting a medical degree is easy?
Quick Quiz

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. I suggest _____ Bratislava while you're on your tour of Europe.
    • a) to visit
    • b) visiting
  2. If you're on a diet, I recommend _____ canola oil instead of butter when baking.
    • a) to use
    • b) using
  3. Did you manage _____ a plumber to fix your sink on Saturday?
    • a) finding
    • b) to find
  4. On the weekends, Ed enjoys _____ novels and watching videos.
    • a) reading
    • b) to read
  5. I promised Erica I'd get a drink with her after work, and now I don't feel like _____.
    • a) to go
    • b) going
  6. Do you promise _____ me when I'm working abroad in London?
    • a) visiting
    • b) to visit
  7. When do you expect _____ the repair work on my car?
    • a) to finish
    • b) finishing
  8. We want _____ to New York next year.
    • a) moving
    • b) to move
  9. Do you mind _____ Jesse from the airport on Saturday?
    • a) to pick up
    • b) picking up
  10. I think _____ a night in Santa Barbara on our way to Los Angeles is a good idea.
    • a) spending
    • b) to spend
Answer Key
  1. b
  2. b
  3. b
  4. a
  5. b
  6. b
  7. a
  8. b
  9. b
  10. a
Answer Key
Favorite Books

If you already speak some English and now would like to speak more like a native, “Speak English Like an American” will help you. One of the keys to speaking like a native is the ability to use and understand casual expressions, or idioms. American English is full of idioms. Speak English Like an American will help you understand and use idioms better. It contains over 300 of today's most common idioms.

Read more