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Speak English Like an American Lesson 19 Idioms and Expressions MCQ Test

Speak English Like an American Lesson 19 Idioms and Expressions MCQ Test

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LESSON 19 – Nicole’s Close Election


Nicole loses the election at school. She doesn’t want to accept it, so she looks for excuses. Ted encourages her to accept defeat and move on.

Nicole: I lost the election by a hair — just 10 votes! But I’m not giving up.

Ted: Give me a break, Nicole. You lost. Live with it!

Nicole: But I was a sure thing! If I hadn’t stayed up so late baking cookies, I wouldn’t have messed up my speech.

Ted: Get real, Nicole.

Nicole: It’s your fault, Ted. I lost because your friends didn’t vote for me!

Ted: Don’t try to put the blame on me! I gave it my best shot.

Nicole: They must’ve made a mistake while counting the votes. I’ll demand a re-count on Monday and set the record straight.

Ted: Don’t make a fool of yourself, Nicole. Face it, Andrea won the election fair and square!

Nicole: Well, I just don’t know where I went wrong.

Susan: Here, take a chocolate chip cookie. That’ll cheer you up for sure!


  • by a hair

 just barely; very narrowly; by a small amount

EXAMPLE 1: Larry won the bicycle race by a hair. The second-place winner came in just a second behind him.

EXAMPLE 2: Was the tennis ball in or out? I think it was out by a hair. You know the old saying: “When in doubt, call it out!”

  • (to) cheer up

 to make someone happy

EXAMPLE 1: Susan called her friend in the hospital to cheer her up.

EXAMPLE 2: My father has been depressed for weeks now. I don’t know what to do to cheer him up.

NOTE: You can tell somebody to “Cheer up!” if they are feeling sad.

  • 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.

  • fair and square


EXAMPLE 1: Did George Bush win the 2000 presidential election fair and square? That depends on whether you ask a Democrat or a Republican!

EXAMPLE 2: Tony won the ping pong tournament fair and square.

  • for sure


EXAMPLE 1: This year, Tom Cruise will win an Academy Award for sure.

EXAMPLE 2: Mike is the most popular guy in school. If he runs for student body president, he’ll win for sure.

  • Get real

 be serious or realistic about what’s going on

EXAMPLE 1: You think you won’t get a speeding ticket when you drive 85 miles per hour? Get real!

EXAMPLE 2: You think you’re going to win $1 million in the lottery? Get real!

  • (to) give it one’s best shot

 to try as hard as one can

EXAMPLE 1: Courtney lost the race, but at least she gave it her best shot.

EXAMPLE 2: I know you’re nervous about the interview. Just give it your best shot and see what happens.

  • give me a break

 that’s ridiculous; that’s outrageous

EXAMPLE 1: You want me to pay $3 for one cookie? Give me a break!

EXAMPLE 2: You expect me to believe that excuse? Give me a break!

NOTE: YOU might see this written in its informal, conversational form: “Gimme a break!” This is usually how the idiom is pronounced.

  • (to) give up

 to admit defeat; to surrender

EXAMPLE 1: Bill gave up golf after realizing he’d never be good at it.

EXAMPLE 2: I know you’re 100 points ahead of me, but I still might win the Scrabble game. I’m not giving up yet!

  • (to) go wrong

 to make a mistake; to go astray; to malfunction; to work incorrectly

EXAMPLE 1: Follow the directions I gave you, and you can’t go wrong.

EXAMPLE 2: Something went wrong with my neighbor’s car alarm system, and the alarm wouldn’t stop ringing all night.

  • (to) live with it

 to accept a difficult reality

EXAMPLE 1: Your boss is an idiot. Live with it.

EXAMPLE 2: Your hair will never be straight. Just live with it!

NOTE: There is also the expression “to learn to live with it,” which means to get used to something annoying or difficult. Example: Sandra knew that Roger would always throw his dirty clothes on the floor. She’d just have to learn to live with it.

  • (to) make a fool of oneself

 to cause oneself to look stupid

EXAMPLE 1: Dan drank too much and then made a fool of himself.

EXAMPLE 2: Please stop arguing with me in front of all these people. You’re making a fool of yourself!

  • (to) mess up

 to make a mistake; to spoil an opportunity

EXAMPLE 1: Amber messed up and put salt instead of sugar in the cookies.

EXAMPLE 2: Ted really messed up on his chemistry test. He got a “D.”

SYNONYM: screw up [slang]

  • (to) put the blame on (someone)

 to name somebody else as responsible for a misdeed or misfortune

EXAMPLE 1: Mrs. Lopez put the blame on her husband for losing their life savings in the stock market.

EXAMPLE 2: Don’t put the blame on me that your plants died while you were on vacation. You forgot to tell me to water them!

  • (to) set the record straight

 to correct an inaccurate account

EXAMPLE 1: Ken knew his father was innocent, and he hoped he could set the record straight one day.

EXAMPLE 2: Let me set the record straight. I won the last game.

  • sure thing

 an outcome that is assured

EXAMPLE 1: Gary bet all his money on a horse named Trixie, thinking she was a sure thing.

EXAMPLE 2: Nicole has a good chance of getting accepted to Yale, but it’s still not a sure thing.

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