Idioms And Phrases
Idioms are groups of words that can mean things other than what they say. The meanings vary from location to location (and possibly speaker to speaker), and they often depend on context for meaning. Have a look at the following sentences and see if you can figure out what’s happening:
“You look hot!” the man said as he handed a water bottle to the sweaty athlete.
“You look hot!” the man said as he handed a glass of wine to the young woman.
Context, as you can see, is imperative.
Idioms are most distressing when they’re made from words which don’t really make sense in the context in which they’re used.
“What’s up?” Adam asked as he walked into the room. Matt looked up at the ceiling, wondering what he was missing.
“Want to hang out?” Adam asked. Matt – horrified – replied that he didn’t do anything wrong and didn’t need to hang.
“Catch you later,” Adam muttered as he left the room. Matt said he wouldn’t run away so Adam wouldn’t really need to catch him.
When idioms are created by combining a verb and an adverb or preposition – sometimes both – they’re called phrasal verbs. Phrasal verbs come in two varieties:
- Intransitive – cannot take a direct object (they’re always inseparable)
- Transitive – takes a direct object
Phrasal verbs are different from verbs that use helper verbs. Helper verbs can change the tense or the person, but they can’t change the actual meaning of the verb.
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