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Speak English Around Town Lesson 22 Idioms, Proverbs, Expressions MCQ Test

Speak English Around Town Lesson 22 Idioms, Proverbs, Expressions MCQ Test

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LESSON 22 – Making Excuses


Mary and her husband Jake are supposed to go to Erica’s for dinner tomorrow night. But then Mary remembers that Jake told her they were going to his boss s house for a party at the same time. Mary apologizes to Erica for backing out of the dinner.

Mary: Erica, I hate to back out at the eleventh hour, but Jake and I aren’t going to be able to make it to your dinner party tomorrow night.

Erica: What a shame! Did something come up?

Mary: Yes, we have to go to a party at Jake’s boss’s house. Jake had told me about it a couple of weeks ago, but it slipped my mind.

Erica: You’re going to be missing out on a great meal. I’m making duck with olives and couscous. I already bought the duck.

Mary: You better freeze some of it! I feel awful. You must think I’m the biggest flake!

Erica: Don’t sweat it. These things happen.

Mary: Let me make it up to you. I’d like you and Alex to come to dinner at our place next Saturday.

Erica: Okay, that sounds good … oh, I just remembered. Alex’s parents are visiting for the weekend.

Mary: Bring them along too. The more the merrier!

Erica: I’d better check with Alex. I’ll call you later today to confirm.


Language Lens: “had better”

Use “had better” to offer advice or suggestions or to say what one should do in a certain situation – in other words, what the sensible or smart thing to do would be. To say what one should not do, use “had better not.”

Form it like this:
had (or ‘d) + better + base form of verb
had (or ‘d) + better not + base form of verb

The contractions (you’d better leave I I’d better leave) are much more common than the full forms (you had better leave / I had better leave).

◼ You’d better finish your homework before going out tonight.
◼ You’d better not drive if it’s snowing heavily.
◼ You’d better not ask your father for any more money.
◼ We’d better check the weather before we leave on our ski trip.
◼ I’d better call my wife so she knows I’ll be home late.
◼ I’d better let you move the couch. I don’t want to hurt my back.
◼ I’m on a diet. I’d better not have another cookie.
◼ It’s already midnight? I’d better go to bed!

When speaking, people often leave out the word “had” (or the ‘d):
◼ You better tum down that music!
◼ You better go to sleep now.
◼ You better start paying attention in class.
◼ We better buy your plane tickets today.


  • at the eleventh hour

 at the last minute

Example: Ken and Dana were supposed to get married on Saturday, but he got nervous at the eleventh hour and canceled the wedding.

  • (to) back out

 to break an engagement, appointment, promise, or agreement

Example: I know I promised to drive you to the airport on Friday, but now I’m going to have to back out.

NOTE: “back out” is often followed by “of’: Kathy agreed to host an exchange student, but now she’s trying to back out of it.

  • Did something come up?

 Did something unexpected happen?

Example: “I’m sorry I won’t be able to make it to your party on Friday.” – “Did something come up?

  • dinner party

 a social event at someone’s house in which dinner is served

Example: I’m having a dinner party on Saturday, and I’m calling to see if you’re free.

  • Don’t sweat it

 don’t worry about it

Example: “I’m really sorry, but I can’t pick you up from the airport on Saturday.” – “Don’t sweat it.”

  • flake

 an unreliable person; someone you can’t count on

Example: Cindy asked me to call her at 8 o’clock last night and when I called, her husband said she was out with a friend. What a flake!

NOTE: The adjective form is “flaky.”

  • I feel awful

 I’m sorry about the situation (often said to express that you know you’ve done something wrong)

Example: You got sick from the tuna salad I made? I feel awful!

  • it slipped my mind

 I forgot

Example: I’m sorry I forgot to mail the package. It slipped my mind.

  • (to) make it

 to come; to be present

Example: I’m not sure if I’ll be able to make it to the staff meeting on Wednesday morning.

  • (to) make it up to someone

 to do something nice for someone (after you’ve done something that was not so nice, such as canceling on someone)

Example: I’m sorry I forgot your birthday. Let me make it up to you and take you out for a drink tonight.

  • (to) miss out (on)

 to lose an opportunity; to not experience

Example: Sara submitted her application too late and missed out on the opportunity to spend the semester in Paris.

  • that sounds good

 I like your suggestion

Example: “We’re planning to bring a bottle of wine when we come to for dinner on Saturday.” – “That sounds good.

NOTE: You can say this to answer positively when you are offered something or asked your opinion.

  • the more the merrier

 the more people who participate in an event or activity, the more fun it’ll be for everyone (often said to encourage somebody to participate)

Example: We already have 15 people in our book club, but you should join too. The more the merrier.

  • these things happen

 sometimes things happen that you can’t control

Example: You forgot your wallet? Don’t worry about it. These things happen. I’ll pay for lunch today.

  • What a shame!

 that’s too bad; how unfortunate

Example: “Scott broke his leg, so he won’t be able to go on the class ski trip.” – “What a shame!

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