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Speak English Like an American Lesson 15 Idioms and Expressions MCQ Test

Speak English Like an American Lesson 15 Idioms and Expressions MCQ Test

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LESSON 15 – Nicole Practices Her Election Speech


Nicole is running for student body president. She must give a speech next week. She discusses the speech with her mother.

Susan: What’s up, Nicole?

Nicole: I pulled an all-nighter working on my election speech.

Susan: No wonder you look like a basket case! Did you finish your speech?

Nicole: Yes, at 6 a.m.

Susan: That must be a load off your mind!

Nicole: It’s not. I’ve got to give the speech tomorrow in front of 1,500 people. I’m a nervous wreck!

Susan: Just remember the old rule of thumb: Imagine your audience naked.

Nicole: That’s gross. Why would I want to do that?

Susan: According to conventional wisdom, it’ll make you less nervous.

Nicole: Only practice will do the trick.

Susan: Okay, let’s hear the speech.

Nicole: Good afternoon, everyone. There are four candidates running for president. You think you have several choices. In reality, you have just one choice: me!

Susan: You can’t say that. You’ll turn off your audience immediately.

Nicole: It sounds like I have a big head?

Susan: I’ll say!


  • basket case

 someone or something in a useless or hopeless condition

EXAMPLE 1: After working a 12-hour day and then coming home and cooking dinner for her family, Tanya felt like a basket case.

EXAMPLE 2: After running the marathon, Brian felt like a basket case.

NOTE: You may also see the expression “economic basket case” to describe an economy that is doing very poorly. Example: After years of dictatorship, North Korea is an economic basket case.

  • (to have a) big head

 arrogant; too proud of oneself

EXAMPLE 1: Stop bragging so much about the award you got at work! People will think you’ve got a big head.

EXAMPLE 2: Jenny has such a big head. No wonder nobody wants to be friends with her!

SYNONYM: to be full of oneself. Example: Joan is really full of herself. She’s always talking about how smart she is.

  • conventional wisdom

 a widely held belief

EXAMPLE 1: According to conventional wisdom, a diet high in salt can cause high blood pressure.

EXAMPLE 2: Challenging conventional wisdom, the psychologist said that sometimes it’s healthy to be in a bad mood.

  • (to) do the trick

 to achieve the desired results

EXAMPLE 1: Juan changed the light bulb and said, “That should do the trick!”

EXAMPLE 2: My house is difficult to find, so I’ll put 10 large balloons on my mailbox on the day of the party. That should do the trick.

  • I’ll say!

 yes, definitely!

EXAMPLE 1: “Did you enjoy the Madonna concert?” – “I’ll say!

EXAMPLE 2: “Your sister must’ve been very happy after winning $50,000 in the lottery.” – “I’ll say!

  • in reality

 in fact; actually

EXAMPLE 1: Ted thinks it’ll be easy to become a rock star. In reality, it will take years of hard work.

EXAMPLE 2: I know you think it’ll be easy to get cheap tickets to a Broadway play. In reality, we’ll have to wait in line for hours!

  • load off one’s mind

 a relief

EXAMPLE 1: When Amber called Ted to tell him that she arrived home safely, it was a big load off his mind.

EXAMPLE 2: Finishing her English essay was a load off Nicole’s mind.

  • look like

 have the appearance of

EXAMPLE 1: Before agreeing to go out on a date with her, Keith wanted to know what my cousin Maria looked like.

EXAMPLE 2: Please tell me what the cover of that new book looks like so it will be easier for me to find it in the bookstore.

NOTE: The expression “it looks like” can mean “it is likely that…” Example: It’s snowing, so it looks like the schools will be closed today.

  • nervous wreck

 a person feeling very worried

EXAMPLE 1: Ted was a nervous wreck before his chemistry test.

EXAMPLE 2: Whenever Nicole rides on the back of her friend’s motorcycle, Susan is a nervous wreck.

  • no wonder

 it’s not surprising

EXAMPLE 1: Brian’s entire body is in pain. It’s no wonder since he ran a marathon yesterday!

EXAMPLE 2: No wonder you’re cold — it’s January and you’re walking around outside without a coat!

SYNONYM: small wonder

  • (to) pull an all-nighter

 to stay up all night to do work

EXAMPLE 1: Ted pulled an all-nighter to study for his chemistry test and ended up falling asleep in class the next day.

EXAMPLE 2: I’ve got a 20-page paper due tomorrow morning, and I haven’t even started writing it yet. I guess I’ll be pulling an all-nighter!

  • rule of thumb

 a useful principle

EXAMPLE 1: When cooking fish, a good rule of thumb is 10 minutes in the oven for each inch of thickness.

EXAMPLE 2: “Ted, as a rule of thumb, you should always plan to study for your chemistry tests for at least two hours.”

  • (to) turn off

 to cause to feel dislike or revulsion

EXAMPLE 1: I used to be friends with Monica, but she gossiped all the time and it really turned me off.

EXAMPLE 2: At first, Sara really liked Jacob. But when he started talking about all his ex-girlfriends, she was really turned off.

NOTE: The noun form, turn-off, is also common and usually describes something that causes the opposite sex to respond negatively. Example: When Jake started talking about all his ex-girlfriends, it was a real turn off for Sara.

  • what’s up?

 What’s going on? What’s new?

EXAMPLE 1: What’s up? I haven’t spoken to you in a long time.

EXAMPLE 2: You never call me anymore. What’s up with that?

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