Level 3 idioms – Unit 01


Sarah:  Boy, this cafeteria food is a far cry from my mother’s cooking.

Babak:  I know what you mean.  It’s by no means a five-star restaurant.  But what can we expect?  By and large, institutional food is pretty tasteless.

Sarah:  I agree.  Besides the food, how do you like the university?

Babak:  I love it.  My older brother went to UBC, so I’m following in his footsteps.  I’m going to be a civil engineer just like him.  How about you?  Do you like it here?

Sarah:  It’s okay, but it’s very different from high school where I knew everybody.  I feel like a fish out of water.  And tuition is costing my family an arm and a leg, so I need to find a part-time job to make ends meet.

Babak:  I guess I’m lucky that my grandparents are helping to put me through school.  They’re chipping in to help my parents out.  Otherwise, I might have to get a job too.  Was UBC your first choice?

Sarah:  No.  I was accepted at two local colleges, but when I was accepted here, there was no way I was going to pass up coming to one of the best schools in the country.

Babak:  Me neither.  This school is anything but run of the mill.  It stacks up well against the other universities in the country.

Click on the audio recording  below to hear the lesson.


five-star:  excellent
institutional:  cooked for large groups of people
civil engineer:  designer of roads, bridges and other things for society
UBC:  University of British Columbia
otherwise:  if this were not true


a far cry from                                            inferior to, not as good as
by no means                                               in no way
by and large                                               mostly, generally, on the whole
follow in (someone’s) footsteps    do what someone else has done
a fish out of water                                  someone outside of his/her usual environment
cost an arm and a leg                           cost a lot of money
make ends meet                                      have enough money to pay one’s bills
put (someone) through                      support (someone) financially while attending school /
make (someone) have a bad experience
chip in (on/for)                                         contribute money or time
pass up                                                          not choose, not accept
run of the mill                                           ordinary, common
stack up against (something)          compare with (something)


By no means and not at all have the same meaning

Put (someone) through has 2 meanings.  The other meaning is “make (someone) have a bad experience.”
Example:  Our first cat was declawed, but I won’t put my other cat through that.

Stack up against (something) can also take the word “well.”
Example:  This restaurant stacks up well against the one we went to last week.

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© 2013 Ambien Malecot


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