Jan 11, 2016

Expression: Get your feet wet

To "get your feet wet" means to start something by trying it a little bit. It's like when you're going into the sea or the pool, and you start by just putting your toes in the water. Here are a few examples:


You: How's your swing dance class?
Your friend: Pretty good, although we're just getting our feet wet with some easy steps.


Your boss: How's your English coming along?
You: Um, pretty good...
Your boss: Would you like to come to the next management meeting?
You: Uh...
Your boss: It would be a good chance for you to listen and get your feet wet... You wouldn't have to talk if you didn't want to...
You: Okay! Thanks!


Bob was really excited about learning the new software. Before signing up for a course, he decided to get his feet wet by playing around with the app himself to see how it worked.


It's important to note that we always use a possessive in this expression. We never say "get the feet wet."

Nov 7, 2014

Dial it back

To dial it/something back is to reduce the amount of it.

You might see this expression in a recipe, for example: "If you don't like it too spicy, just dial back the amount of chill pepper."

Or I might write in an email, "I'm dialling back my business travel for the next few months."

This expression is easy to visualise: you can think of turning a dial to reduce the volume of music. I realize that this pretty analog for today, when you will usually see a slide bar for volume on your iPhone, etc. But back in the day, radios and stereos had a round knob for the volume. You would turn it to the right to make it louder, and to the left to "turn it down."

Nov 4, 2014

Autumnal: adjectives of seasons

Autumnal is an adjective to say that something is like Autumn. For example, we might comment that the weather is autumnal; we could also use it for food, clothing, or mood.

I suppose that autumnal could mean very diffident things to different people. For some, autumn is a grey, rainy time of year, whereas other might experience it as vibrant and colourful.

The other seasons also have their adjectives: wintry, summery and springlike.

So, how are things where you are?

Jul 25, 2014

In the midst of

In the midst of is pretty much the same as in the middle of, with one important difference.

We say in the midst of about activities, and it means that we're busy doing something at the moment.

Whereas in the middle of can also refer to location, as in "La Boqueria market is in the middle of Barcelona."

Here are a few examples of how they are similar, and how they're different:

You: Hi, do you feel like meeting up?
Your friend: I'd love to, but I'm in the midst of packing.
You: Really? Where are you going?
Your friend: Rio...

Your boss: Are you in the middle of something right now?
You: Not really. What's up?

You: Where's that bookstore you were telling me about last week?
Your colleague: It's right in the middle of town, on College Ave.

So, what are you in the midst of right now?

Jul 23, 2014

Summer English idea: Read some comics in English

Hi! I hope you're having a really good summer so far, enjoying whatever means summer to you.

If you're working on improving you English, what about reading some comics?

This will be especially helpful if you can find some of your favorites. Since you've read them in your native language, you'll already be familiar with characters and story lines. This makes learning on the language level much easier!

Here are a couple of links: Yahoo comics and GoComics


Jul 18, 2014

-ism and -ist

-ism usually appears as a suffix, and relates to "a distinctive practice, system, or philosophy, typically a political ideology or an artistic movement."

You can see this in words like feminism (being pro-women's rights), racism (discriminating against people because of their race), etc.

-ist refers to a person who embraces one of these practices or beliefs. Feminist, racist, etc.

In this TED talk, Joi Ito argues against being a futurist (someone who focuses on the future as a means of innovation) and for being a "now-ist".

I found this talk inspiring, and I hope you will too.

A nice surprise

I've been away from Thinking in English for a couple of months, so it's been a very nice surprise to find that people are still visiting and finding something valuable.

It's also been great to read some comments on an earlier post in which I questioned whether or not to continue. Knowing that some of you would like to keep reading is very inspiring!

I'll work on coming up with some new material. Thanks for your great support.