Speak English Like an American » LESSON 4 - Nicole's Day at School

Nicole's Day at School

Nicole tells her mother Susan about her successful presentation at school. Her brother Ted overhears and interrupts the conversation.

Susan: How was your day at school today, Nicole?

Nicole: It was great, Mom. I gave a presentation on Hillary Clinton in government class. Afterwards, my teacher paid me a compliment.

Susan: What did she say?

Nicole: She said my presentation was head and shoulders above the others.

Susan: Way to go!

Nicole: She also said I should go into politics, just like Hillary.

Ted: You're so gung ho about school. It drives me crazy.

Nicole: Ted, don't butt in! You're just jealous.

Ted: Right. You hit the nail on the head. I'm green with envy.

Nicole: Would you just shut up? You're on thin ice with me right now.

Ted: Oh no! Look at me. I'm shaking in my shoes!

  • (to) butt in
    to interrupt; to interfere
    EXAMPLE 1: Nancy is always butting in to other people's business.
    EXAMPLE 2: Sara is really rude. She always butts in to other people's conversations.
  • (to) drive one crazy
    to annoy someone very much
    EXAMPLE 1: Don't ask Mrs. Smith how old she is. It drives her crazy.
    EXAMPLE 2: Please stop chewing gum so loudly. It's driving me crazy!

    SYNONYMS: to drive one nuts; to drive one up the wall

  • (to) go into
    to enter a profession
    EXAMPLE 1: Lisa enjoys arguing with people, so she decided to go into law.
    EXAMPLE 2: Do you like solving people's problems? If so, you should consider going into psychology.

    NOTE: "Go into" has several other meanings, including:

    1. Enter. Go into the house and get a pen.
    2. Enter another emotional state. Sally went into hysterics.
    3. Discuss details. I don't have time now to go into the whole story.
  • green with envy
    desiring another's advantages or things
    EXAMPLE 1: When Daniel got promoted to vice president of the bank, his colleagues were green with envy.
    EXAMPLE 2: You won the lottery? I'm green with envy!
  • gung ho
    very enthusiastic; very excited (about something)
    EXAMPLE 1: Heather is really gung ho about her new job.
    EXAMPLE 2: Sharon really loves college. She's very gung ho.

    NOTE: If the expression "gung ho" doesn't sound like English to you, there's a reason. It comes from a Mandarin Chinese phrase meaning "working together." A US Marine Corps commander in China adopted this expression as the motto for his battalion during World War 2 and from there it sailed over to the United States and came into common use.

  • head and shoulders above
    far superior to
    EXAMPLE 1: The Boston Symphony Orchestra is head and shoulders above any other orchestra in the area.
    EXAMPLE 2: I can't believe you only won second prize in the competition. You were head and shoulders above the first-prize winner!
  • (to) hit the nail on the head
    to be right
    EXAMPLE 1: Dawn hit the nail on the head when she said that Tiffany is jealous of Amber.
    EXAMPLE 2: Steve hit the nail on the head with his idea of moving his company's manufacturing facility to China.
  • (to be) on thin ice (with someone)
    to be in a dangerous position; to be temporarily on somebody's bad side
    EXAMPLE 1: Joey was on thin ice with his mom after he spent his lunch money on candy bars.
    EXAMPLE 2: Bill was on thin ice with his girlfriend after she saw him at the movie theater with another girl.

    NOTE: There is also the variation "to skate on thin ice." Joey knew he was skating on thin ice when he bought candy with his lunch money.

  • (to) pay (someone) a compliment
    to give someone a compliment; to offer someone an admiring comment
    EXAMPLE 1: Professor Russo paid Jennifer a compliment. He said she had a beautiful smile.
    EXAMPLE 2: Isn't it wonderful to pay someone a compliment? It makes them feel good, and it doesn't cost you anything!
  • (to) shake in one's shoes
    to tremble with fear; to be afraid
    EXAMPLE 1: Brianna is scared of her French teacher, Monsieur Le Monstre. Whenever he speaks to her, Brianna starts shaking in her shoes.
    EXAMPLE 2: During the storm, Billy was hiding under his kitchen table and was really shaking in his shoes.
  • shut up
    be quiet, stop speaking; Stop speaking!
    EXAMPLE 1: The professor talked for hours. I thought he'd never shut up.
    EXAMPLE 2: Nicole kept telling Ted to turn down his stereo. Finally, he got angry and said, "Shut up!"

    NOTE: Remember that telling somebody to "shut up!" is rude. It's better to say "Be quiet!" or more politely, "Please be quiet!"

  • Way to go!
    Good work!
    EXAMPLE 1: You won $2,000 in the poetry writing contest? Way to go!
    EXAMPLE 2: That was an interesting article you wrote. Way to go!
Practice The Idioms

Fill in the blank with the missing word:

  1. Nicole is in a good mood because her teacher _____ her a compliment.
    • a) told
    • b) paid
    • c) provided
  2. Nicole's teacher told her she was _____ and shoulders above her classmates.
    • a) elbow
    • b) neck
    • c) head
  3. When my friend Chad told me he'd just won the lottery, I was _____ with envy.
    • a) blue
    • b) green
    • c) red
  4. When you do something well, your boss might tell you, "Way _____!"
    • a) to come
    • b) to go
    • c) to act
  5. When the robbers entered my house, I was in the kitchen shaking in my _____.
    • a) slippers
    • b) pajamas
    • c) shoes
  6. If somebody is bothering you, you can tell them they're driving you _____.
    • a) crazy
    • b) angry
    • c) unhappy
  7. If you like power, you might consider going _____ politics.
    • a) above
    • b) towards
    • c) into
  8. "You've been yelling and screaming for the past two hours. Could you just shut _____ already?"
    • a) up
    • b) in
    • c) off
Bonus Practice

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

  1. When her friend Anna got into Yale, Nicole was green with envy.
    • a) sick
    • b) happy for her
    • c) very jealous
  2. Bob and Susan are really gung ho about the TV show Survivor. They watch it every Thursday night.
    • a) enthusiastic
    • b) concerned
    • c) angry
  3. Shut up! I can't take any more of your screaming.
    • a) Talk louder!
    • b) Be quiet!
    • c) Get out!
  4. You got a scholarship to attend Harvard? Way to go!
    • a) Too bad!
    • b) Good work!
    • c) Oh well!
  5. Please don't butt in! We weren't talking to you.
    • a) look at us
    • b) disagree with us
    • c) interrupt our conversation
  6. These cookies aren't very good. I think you hit the nail on the head when you said I should add more sugar next time.
    • a) were wrong
    • b) were right
    • c) were confused
Answer Key
Practice The Idioms
  1. b
  2. c
  3. b
  4. b
  5. c
  6. a
  7. c
  8. a
Bonus Practice
  1. c
  2. a
  3. b
  4. b
  5. c
  6. b
Answer Key
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