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As regular readers of this blog know, the English language is full of confusing expressions and terminology which make life difficult for learners. Even native speakers can be excused for shaking their heads in bewilderment sometimes during a simple conversation. I heard a brief exchange between two people the other day which made me wonder what someone learning the language would make of it.
Myles: “You want to go out tonight?”
Tori: “Sure! Pick me up in your pickup.”
Let’s begin with the first sentence, which is technically not a complete sentence. Formally, Myles should have said: “Do you want to go out tonight?” In casual conversation, however, the do is inferred. Also, going out is colloquial for some form of activity, like a date, and not necessarily to be taken literally. In proper English, then, the question could have been stated, “Would you like to do something with me tonight?” Or some other awkward phrasing.
The response is even more head-scratching. Pick me up means to drive wherever the speaker is going to be and the speaker will accompany the driver in their vehicle. And, a pickup is a kind of truck. It gets the name from all the things that you can pick up and put in it. So, formally, Tori could have replied, “Sure! Please drive to my house in your truck and I will accompany you.” Or some similar awkward phrasing.
Now, let’s imagine how that conversation continues, shall we?
Tori: “We could pick up some take-out.”
In this case, to pick up is to purchase something. Specifically, they will purchase some food at a restaurant that will be packaged for them to eat off premises (the take-out).
Myles: “Let’s get some coffee, too. I could use a pick-me-up after my long day.”
In English, a pick-me-up is something that gives you a little energy or makes you feel better. It could be a drink, some chocolate, or even just a kind word or praise. Oh, and days are just as long in English as they are in any language. If Myles has had a long day, it means that he had some difficulty during the day.
Tori: “This is the second time this week we’ve gone out. People will think we’re going out.”
Myles: “Aren’t we going out?”
Tori: “I guess so. I hadn’t picked up on it.”
Yes, I’m messing with you. If a couple goes out somewhere together they may or may not consider that they are dating. Going out is a colloquialism for dating. To pick up on something means to learn, realize, or understand something. Therefore, Myles and Tori are dating, but Tori didn’t realize that Myles viewed them as a dating couple.
Myles: “Really? I guess I was going out on a limb, assuming that you felt the same as I do.”
To go out on a limb is to be placed in a precarious or vulnerable position. In this case, Myles took a chance that Tori had feelings for him that went beyond friendship.
Tori: “Oh, I do! I think you’re a great catch. I just don’t know why you picked me.”
A great catch is a sports-related idiom. It could refer to a great play made in baseball or football, or it may refer to a fisherman reeling in a spectacular fish. In any case, Tori thinks that Myles is pretty special. She also seems to think that he picked her, or singled her out as someone he wanted to date.
Myles: “I thought we kind of picked each other.”
Congratulations, Myles. That was the right thing to say.
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