Saturday, April 24, 2004


Saying it right

Prerana Trehan

Experts say that being a good speaker is just one part of making communication effective. Listening and responding appropriately is equally important. Fortunately, there are many idioms that can be used to give an apt answer to what someone says.

You could have fooled me: you do not believe what someone says about something you saw or experienced yourself.

“I was not really ill. I just pretended to be so that I could skip the math class.”

“Really? You could have fooled me.”

There’s no accounting for taste: you can’t understand why someone likes or doesn’t like something.

“Many people have taken to wearing those unsightly black glasses that Preity Zinta wore in Kal Ho Na Ho.”

“Well, I suppose there’s no accounting for taste.”

If all else fails: if all other plans do not work.

“Are you prepared to quit your job if the charges levelled against you are not withdrawn?”

“Yes, if all else fails.”

The lesser of two evils: the less unpleasant of two choices, neither of which is good.

“Will you support the Congress or the BJP?”

“I suppose the Congress is the lesser of two evils.”

One thing led to another: a series of events happened, each caused by the previous one.

I met Aman only last month but one thing led to another and now we are getting married.

I’ll never live it down: you think that you have done something bad or embarrassing that people will never forget.

All the people at the wedding saw how the groom got drunk and misbehaved with the guests. He will never be able to live it down.

Strike while the iron is hot: do something immediately while you have a good chance of succeeding.

“Mother is extremely pleased that I topped my class. Should I ask her for a music system now?”

“Yes. You should strike while the iron is hot.”

One way or another: something will happen or you will do something though you are not sure what or how.

One way or another I am going to clean my cupboard this week.

Over the top: more extreme than is necessary or appropriate.

I think the heavy jewellery that Mrs Sharma wore for the party was a bit over the top.

In someone’s shoes: in the same, generally unpleasant position as someone.

If I were in Inzmam-ul-Haq’s shoes, I would make some drastic changes in the team.

Be not on: not an appropriate way of behaving.

I have told my daughter that it is just not on for her to wear short skirts to college.


Use appropriate idioms to complete the responses to the following:

“I am surprised that those saas-bahu serials do so well. I have seen them and don’t think much of them.”

“You are right but then I suppose….”

“I was not really angry with my secretary, I was just a little annoyed because the letter she drafted had so many mistakes.”

“Really? The way you shouted at her….”

“Our sector has been without power for the past two days. Should we speak to the SDO about it?”

“Yes…we will.”

“Did you see how the spokespersons of the ruling party make personal attacks against the leader of the Opposition?”

“Yes, it is in very bad taste. I think it is just….”

“The show during which the model tripped and fell down was being telecast live”

“Yes, the whole country must have seen her. She will never…”

“What did you think of the elaborate menu at Mr Malhotra’s party?

“I think…. There was no need to serve so many dishes.”

“Do you think I did the right thing by sending my son to the hostel?”

“Yes. If I was…I would have done the same thing.”

(Reference: Cambridge International Dictionary of Idioms)