Talking Shit in English

Posted on 25. Aug, 2015 by in English Language

Image by Duncan Hull on Flickr.com.

Image by Duncan Hull on Flickr.com.

‘Shit’ is not a polite word in English, but it is a common word none-the-less and therefore worthy of a little attention here on the blog today. Shit is considered a swear word or a bad word in English, and so it is best not to use it around people you don’t know well. Shit isn’t a word you should use at work or school; it is a word you can use around friends as long as your friend are okay with that. You are very likely to hear this word if you watch English TV, movies, or listen to English music. So, what does it mean? Shit is another word for poop. It is a word for human excrement or feces. It is because of this meaning that this word is not considered a nice word, so just be careful how and where you use it.

In this post I am going explain some commonplace expressions or phrases in English in which this word is used. Because this swear word is so commonplace in English slag, knowing these uses may be helpful to you, especially in understanding native English speakers.

“Talking shit” in English:

Shit! – an emphatic expression of anger or annoyance
Example: Shit! I can’t believe you just did that.

shitty (adj.) – 1) something that is of poor quality; 2) feeling sick or miserable; 3) incompetent or not good
Examples: This is a shitty little radio that never works.
I feel shitty about how we treated that new guy.
We had the shittiest taxi driver on the way over here. He got lost three times.

shit-faced (adj.) – drunk
Example: My brother and his friend all got shit-faced last night at the bar.

shithole (noun) – a very dirty, shabby, or otherwise unpleasant place
Example: We have to move out of this shithole apartment ASAP.

I don’t give a shit = I don’t care
Example: I don’t give a shit where we go to eat, let’s just go. I am starving.

to scare the shit out of someone – to really scare someone
Example: Instead of happily surprising James we scared the shit out of him when we jumped out and yelled “surprise” at his party.

to be full of shit – to be untruthful, not credible, or ridiculous
Example: Sasha is full of shit; you can’t believe a thing she says.

to know (one’s) shit – to be very knowledgeable about something
Example: Jesse really knows his shit when it comes to car repair.

to talk shit – to talk in an insulting manner
Example: The boys were talking shit and that escalated into a fight.

bullshit (or BS) – an obvious lie
Example: That is complete bullshit you are just making things up.

I have one last important note to make on the word ‘shit’ and that is about pronunciation. Often ESL speakers mispronounce this word.  I don’t want that to happen to you. So, here is what you need to know. The trick in pronunciation here is that the vowel ‘i’ in this word has a short vowel sound. If you know how to say the word ‘it’ all you have to do is add the sounds ‘sh’ in front of ‘it’ to make the word shit. The word ‘shit’ rhymes with the word ‘sit.’ Many people mistakenly use a long vowel sound when pronouncing this word, saying this word like ‘sh-eat’ instead of ‘sh-it.’ So, just remember, keep it short and be careful where and when you use this word and these expressions as some people may find them offensive.

English idioms involving clothing

Posted on 18. Aug, 2015 by in English Vocabulary

Image by Joel Penner on Flickr.com.

Image by Joel Penner on Flickr.com.

This post is one for all the “fashionistas” (or people who love clothes and fashion) out there. Today we are going to look at clothes from hats to shoes, but we aren’t going to talk about specific clothing vocabulary, we are going to look at idioms and expressions that involve clothing. So, even if you don’t care much about fashion, this post will still help you build your English knowledge and give you a few more fun phrases to work into your everyday speech.

Clothing-related idioms from top to bottom:

at the drop of a hat – without planning or notice, impromptu, unexpectedly
Example: We are ready to leave for the hospital, to have the baby, at the drop of hat.

to take (one’s) hat off to (something) – to admire or respect something or someone
Example: I take my hat off to you Burt, that was an extremely well prepared presentation.

a stuffed shirt – a very rigid, old-fashioned, or formal person (usually a man)
Example: I expected my new boss to be a real stuffed shirt after the interview, but he is actually a pretty cool guy.

to ride on (someone’s) coattails – to gain success or fortune due to the work of someone else
Example: It is clear that Zack is riding on his father’s coat tails; there is no way he could be where he is now in business on his own.

to have (someone) in (one’s) pocket – to have control over someone
Example: The secretary has her boss in her pocket since she found out about his illegal activity.

to have an ace up (one’s) sleeve – to have secret knowledge, especially when it can be used against someone else
Example: I’m sure the vice president has an ace up his sleeve that he is waiting to use when the time is right.

off the cuff – without preparation, impromptu
Example: The speaker decided to make a few off the cuff remarks before beginning her prepared speech.

to tighten (one’s) belt – to spend less money
Example: The time has come for us to either tighten our belts or find second jobs.

by the seat of (one’s) pants – due to luck or good fortune
Example: Henry passed his math class, but only by the seat of his pants.

to have ants in (one’s) pants – to be restless, to move a lot
Example: After a whole week of rain and staying indoors I felt like I had ants in my pants and can’t wait to get outside.

if the shoe fits, wear it – a way of saying that someone should accept a general comment or criticism as applying to them
Example: A: “Just because I was late for work twice this week doesn’t mean I am a late person.” B: “I don’t know about that, if the shoe fits, wear it.”

Great American Cities – Chicago

Posted on 17. Aug, 2015 by in Travel

After covering a few east coast cities (New York, Boston, D.C., Philly) and a few west coast ones (San Francisco, L.A., and Las Vegas), we’re moving to the Midwest for the next stop on our tour of “Great American Cities” as we pay a visit to Chicago.

Hey there, Chicago!

Hey there, Chicago!

Name: It is believed that the name of the city comes from a Native American word, shikaakwa, which was a type of wild onion that grew in the area. A French explorer, Robert de la Salle, referred to the area as Checagou in 1679 and it eventually became known as Chicago.

Location: Chicago is located in the Midwestern USA, in the state of Illinois. The city is situated on the southwestern shore of Lake Michigan.

Chicago on the map of Illinois.

Chicago on the map of Illinois.

Nicknames: As with many American cities, Chicago has lots of nicknames. Some people refer to the entire metropolitan area as “Chicagoland,” while others know the city simply as “Chitown.” It’s also known as the “Second City,” which was once used as an insult in The New Yorker to show that Chicago wasn’t as good as NYC. The most famous nickname is the “Windy City.” There are many ideas why this nickname exists, but we can’t say for sure.

Year Founded: Chicago became a town in 1833, when it had just 200 people. Four years later, in 1837, it became a city with a population of 4,000. The city would continue to grow, as it became an important transportation hub between the east and west.

A view of the city's skyline.

A view of the city’s skyline.

Population: It’s hard to believe that Chicago started out so small, as today it is the 3rd most populous city in the United States, with just over 2.7 million residents. It’s one of the most densely populated cities, and it’s the largest city in the Midwest. Chicago’s population is quite diverse – 32% non-Hispanic whites, 33% black, 29% Hispanic, and 5% Asian.

Transportation: Chicago is a huge transportation hub in the US. The city has two major airports – O’Hare and Midway – connecting the city to places all around the world. There are also train and bus stations linking Chicago with many other American cities. Chicago has some of the best public transportation in America, which is run by the CTA (Chicago Transit Authority). Many people take the “L” to get around – a series of elevated trains and subway lines designated by colors. There’s also an extensive bus system and plenty of taxis for hire. These days, you’ll find more and more bicycles available for rent throughout the city as well.

Famous Places: Chicago is famous for its architecture, as the city was the birthplace of the skyscraper. The most famous building here is the Willis Tower, which was the tallest building in the world for many years and used to be called the Sears Tower. Many people like to take a cruise on the Chicago River to see the city’s architecture.

Willis Tower

Willis Tower

Another famous attraction is Navy Pier, located on the shoreline of Lake Michigan. Home to a large ferris wheel, the Chicago Children’s Museum, and the annual 4th of July fireworks show, this is a very popular place to visit.

Navy Pier

Navy Pier

Chicago is also home to many incredible museums, such as the Adler Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Field Museum, and Chicago Institute of Arts.

Field Museum

Field Museum

For shopping, the city has the Magnificent Mile. This wide boulevard has many high-end shops, as well as plenty of hotels and restaurants.

Culture: Chicago is very much a cultural hub – performing arts, food, music, visual arts, sports, and much more. When it comes to art, you can check out the big museums, or visit a wide variety of smaller galleries. You can even stroll around and see lots of amazing public art for free.

"The Bean" - some great Chicago public art!

“The Bean” – some great Chicago public art!

The Windy City is a foodie’s paradise, with all kinds of restaurants to choose from. Some of the city’s famous dishes include the Chicago hot dog, deep-dish pizza, and the Italian beef sandwich.

A delicious Chicago hot dog.

A delicious Chicago hot dog.

And a deep-dish pizza.

And a deep-dish pizza.

Chicago also has an incredible music scene and is the home of countless world-famous musicians and bands. Whether you like jazz, hip-hop, rock, R&B, electronic, or classical, you’ll find something here. The city hosts concerts and music festivals all throughout the year, including the huge Lollapalooza festival every summer.

Catch a show at the legendary Chicago Theater.

Catch a show at the legendary Chicago Theater.

Sports Teams: Chicagoans love their sports, and they have many teams to choose from, with 15 professional teams. It’s one of three cities to have two teams in the MLB, and one of very few cities whose teams actually play in the city limits. Here are the major Chicago pro sports teams:

  • MLB: Chicago Cubs and Chicago White Sox
  • NBA: Chicago Bulls
  • NFL: Chicago Bears
  • NHL: Chicago Blackhawks
  • MLS: Chicago Fire
Catch a game at Wrigley!

Catch a game at Wrigley!

Home to the Cubs, Wrigley Field is the 2nd oldest ballpark in America and is a great place to see a game. Even though the Cubs haven’t won a World Series since 1907, the team still has many diehard fans who come out to the games to support them. Recently, the city has had great success in ice hockey, with the Blackhawks winning 2 out of the last 3 Stanley Cup championships.

Travel Experience: I’ve been to Chicago more times than I can count. As it’s only a short drive (5-6 hours) from my hometown of Detroit, I often go there to see concerts, sporting events, or just to visit friends. It just might be my favorite American city, and I’ve been to a lot of them! There’s just so much to do in Chicago, the people are friendly, and there’s great food and music – two of my favorite things.

Grateful Dead show at Soldier Field.

Grateful Dead show at Soldier Field.

My most recent visit to Chicago came over the 4th of July weekend this year to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Grateful Dead. One of the most famous bands in American history, four of the founding members reunited for a few shows at Chicago’s Soldier Field. It was an amazing weekend full of music and friends, and I’ll always remember it as my best visit to Chicago.

Discussion: Use these questions in your class or just at home to practice!

  • What do you know about Chicago?

  • What did you learn from this post?

  • Have you been there? What did you do?

  • If not, would you like to visit? Why?