Level 2 idioms – Unit 04


Mrs. Bell:  Sally, I hate to break the news to you, but if your grades don’t improve, you’re not going to pass this course.

Sally:  There’s no doubt about it.  I know I’m falling behind, but there are so many things I don’t understand in this course that I need to clear up.

Mrs. Bell:  Well, I know you’re having trouble keeping up with the rest of the class.  Even though I have my hands full right now, I’m happy to tutor you and help you catch up.  Let’s see.  I’m all booked up from Monday to Thursday, but I can see you on Fridays at 3:30.

Sally:  That’s good for me.  Thank you so much, Mrs. Bell.  Sometimes I feel like this work is over my head, and I’m never going to catch on.

Mrs. Bell:  Don’t worry, Sally.  Just remember that above all, you must stay positiveSlowly but surely your marks will improve.  Who knows?  You may turn out to be my best student.

Sally:  Thanks, Mrs. Bell.  If I work really hard, maybe I can even pass with flying colors.


improve:  get better
positive:  believing you can do it
tutor you:  teach you alone


break the news                                 give bad news
• no doubt about it                             it’s a fact, it’s the truth
• fall behind                                           not go as fast as required
• clear up                                                 explain, solve / become sunny
• keep up (with)                                   go as fast as
• have one’s hands full                     be too busy
• booked up                                            have no time left / have no room left (hotel/restaurant)
• over one’s head                                too difficult to understand
• above all                                               most importantly
• slowly but surely                             gradually
• turn out                                                result in the end / produce / come (to an activity)
• pass with flying colors                 get top marks on a test or in a course


Fall behind is similar to be behind, but fall behind is an action, and be behind is a condition after the action has happened.  It means “have work that needs to be done.”
Example:  I fell behind in math when I was sick, and now I am so far behind, I can’t catch up.

Clear up has 2 meanings.  The other meaning is “become sunny.”
Example:  I hope the weather clears up so we can go on a picnic.

Booked up has 2 meanings.  The other meaning is “have no room left (hotel/restaurant).”
Example:  The hotels are all booked up over the winter holidays.

Turn out has 3 meanings.  Another is “produce.”
Example:  This factory turns out 300 pairs of boots a day.

The last meaning is “come (to an activity).”
Example:  How many people turned out for the meeting?

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© 2004 Ambien Malecot

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