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Speak English Like an American Lesson 1 Idioms and Expressions MCQ Test

Speak English Like an American Lesson 1 Idioms and Expressions MCQ Test

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LESSON 1 – Bob’s Day at Work


Bob works as a manager in a furniture store. Peter, his boss, is not happy about sales. Bob’s new advertising campaign hasn’t helped. Peter decides to fire him.

Peter: Bob, I hate to break the news, but our sales were down again last month.

Bob: Down again, Peter?

Peter: Yeah. These days, everybody’s shopping at our competition, Honest Abe’s Furniture Store.

Bob: But everything in there costs an arm and a leg!

Peter: That’s true. They do charge top dollar.

Bob: And their salespeople are very strange. They really give me the creeps!

Peter: Well, they must be doing something right over there. Meanwhile, we’re about to go belly-up.

Bob: I’m sorry to hear that. I thought my new advertising campaign would save the day.

Peter: Let’s face it: your advertising campaign was a real flop.

Bob: Well then I’ll go back to the drawing board.

Peter: It’s too late for that. You’re fired!

Bob: What? You’re giving me the ax?

Peter: Yes. I’ve already found a new manager. She’s as sharp as a tack.

Bob: Can’t we even talk this over? After all, I’ve been working here for 10 years!

Peter: There’s no point in arguing, Bob. I’ve already made up my mind.

Bob: Oh well, at least I won’t have to put up with your nonsense anymore! Good-bye to you and good-bye to this dead-end job.

Peter: Please leave before I lose my temper!


  • about to

 ready to; on the verge of

Example 1: It’s a good thing Bob left the furniture store when he did. Peter was so angry, he was about to throw a dining room chair at him.

Example 2: I’m glad you’re finally home. I was just about to have dinner without you.

  • after all

 Despite everything; when everything has been considered; the fact is

Example 1: You’d better invite Ed to your party. After all, he’s a good friend.

Example 2: It doesn’t matter what your boss thinks of you. After all, you’re going to quit your job anyway.

  • at least

 anyway; the good thing is that…

Example 1: We’ve run out of coffee, but at least we still have tea.

Example 2: Tracy can’t afford to buy a car, but at least she has a good bicycle.

Note: The second definition of this phrase is “no less than”: There were at least 300 people waiting in line to buy concert tickets.

  • (to) break the news

 to make something known

Example 1: Samantha and Michael are getting married, but they haven’t yet broken the news to their parents.

Example 2: You’d better break the news to your father carefully. After all, you don’t want him to have a heart attack!

  • (to) cost an arm and a leg

 to be very expensive

Example 1: A college education in America costs an arm and a leg.

Example 2: All of the furniture at Honest Abe’s costs an arm and a leg!

  • dead-end job

 a job that won’t lead to anything else

Example 1: Diane realized that working as a cashier was a dead-end job.

Example 2: Jim worked many dead-end jobs before finally deciding to start his own business.

  • (let’s) face it

 accept a difficult reality

Example 1: Let’s face it, if Ted spent more time studying, he wouldn’t be failing so many of his classes!

Example 2: Let’s face it, if you don’t have a college degree, it can be difficult to find a high-paying job.

  • (to) give one the creeps

 to create a feeling of disgust or horror

Example 1: Ted’s friend Matt has seven earrings in each ear and an “I Love Mom” tattoo on his arm. He really gives Nicole the creeps.

Example 2: There was a strange man following me around the grocery store. He was giving me the creeps!

  • (to) go back to the drawing board

 to start a task over because the last try failed; to start again from the beginning

EXAMPLE 1: Frank’s new business failed, so he had to go back to the drawing board.

EXAMPLE 2: The president didn’t agree with our new ideas for the company, so we had to go back to the drawing board.

  • (to) go belly-up

 to go bankrupt

EXAMPLE 1: Many people lost their jobs when Enron went belly-up.

EXAMPLE 2: My company lost $3 million last year. We might go belly-up.

  • (to) give someone the ax

 to fire someone

EXAMPLE 1: Mary used to talk to her friends on the phone all day at work, until one day her boss finally gave her the ax.

EXAMPLE 2: Poor Paul! He was given the ax two days before Christmas.

  • (to) lose one’s temper

 to become very angry

EXAMPLE 1: Bob always loses his temper when his kids start talking on the telephone during dinner.

EXAMPLE 2: When Ted handed in his essay two weeks late, his teacher really lost her temper.

  • (to) make up one’s mind

 to reach a decision; to decide

EXAMPLE 1: Stephanie couldn’t make up her mind whether to attend Harvard or Stanford. Finally, she chose Stanford.

EXAMPLE 2: Do you want an omelette or fried eggs? You’ll need to make up your mind quickly because the waitress is coming.

  • no point in

 no reason to; it’s not worth (doing something)

EXAMPLE 1: There’s no point in worrying about things you can’t change.

EXAMPLE 2: There’s no point in going on a picnic if it’s going to rain.

  • (to) put up with

 to endure without complaint

EXAMPLE 1: For many years, Barbara put up with her husband’s annoying behavior. Finally, she decided to leave him.

EXAMPLE 2: I don’t know how Len puts up with his mean boss every day.

  • real flop or flop

 a failure

EXAMPLE 1: The Broadway play closed after just 4 days – it was a real flop!

EXAMPLE 2: The company was in trouble after its new product flopped.

  • (to) save the day

 to prevent a disaster or misfortune

EXAMPLE 1: The Christmas tree was on fire, but Ted threw water on it and saved the day.

EXAMPLE 2: We forgot to buy champagne for our New Year’s party, but Sonia brought some and really saved the day!

  • (as) sharp as a tack

 very intelligent

EXAMPLE 1: Jay scored 100% on his science test. He’s as sharp as a tack.

EXAMPLE 2: Anna got a scholarship to Yale. She’s as sharp as a tack.

  • (to) talk over

 to discuss

EXAMPLE 1: Dave and I spent hours talking over the details of the plan.

EXAMPLE 2: Before you make any big decisions, give me a call and we’ll talk things over.

  • top dollar

 the highest end of a price range; a lot of money

EXAMPLE 1: Nicole paid top dollar for a shirt at Banana Republic.

EXAMPLE 2: Wait until those jeans go on sale. Why pay top dollar?

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