Category Archives: Englishness

Idiom of the day - What am I like?

Idiom of the day – What am I like?

Idiom of the day – What am I like?

The English idiom ‘What am I like?’ is a rhetorical question (one we don’t need anybody to answer) that we ask ourselves out loud when we do something a little bit silly – usually in a public place. It has the same sort of meaning as when Homer says ‘Doh!’ in The Simpsons.

For example, at the supermarket you have paid and you’re walking away from the checkout, when the customer behind you calls you back and tells you that you’ve left a potato on the bagging area. You hurry back and collect your errant potato. To cover your embarrassment you say quickly, ‘Oh, thank you! Thanks. What am I like?’ The other customer smiles, but there is no need for them to reply. For example, we wouldn’t hear an exchange like this:

A – Hey! Excuse me! You’ve forgotten a potato.

B – What? Oh no! Thank you. Thanks so much. Oh, what am I like?

A – Well, it seems that you are rather forgetful, careless, and possibly living in a world of your own.

B – Er, thanks again.

We say ‘What am I like?’ in situations where we potentially look silly or odd in a public place. It puts a voice to our feeling of foolishness and awkwardness, and acknowledges publicly that we have done something ‘unusual’ and that we know about it – we are aware of it. To say nothing would be to create an unreal situation where there is an elephant in the room – an unacknowledged error or problem. This would be very uncomfortable for the typical English person, who tries to avoid awkward public situations. Making a joke about it – and making ourselves the butt of the joke – lightens the mood and takes the heat off – making it seem less awkward.

The typical English response to ‘What am I like?’ would be to smile and perhaps say ‘No problem’ or ‘Yes, I’m always doing that too!’ (showing empathy) if you are feeling more friendly. In any case, phatic (non-essential) communication – also called ‘small talk’ –  eases the awks!

Note: this is not an investigation into your true nature: ‘What am I like?’ It’s unlikely we would ever need to ask this question about ourselves, unless we had lost our memory, or we were particularly vain and wanted to hear people eulogising us! In our version, we put more stress on ‘like’ and the intonation is downward at the end, rather than up, as in a normal question.

Other times when you could say ‘What am I like?’:

  • You get to work and realise you haven’t brought your lunch box
  • The waiter gives you the bill and you realise that you’ve forgotten your wallet – oops
  • In the supermarket you try to get a bag of flour down from a high shelf but it lands on the floor, making a huge mess
  • You are rushing to prepare dinner and you drop your favourite blue dinner plate, smashing it on the floor
  • You get home and realise that you have left the TV on all day by mistake

See if you can use this idiom in your daily life today! Leave a comment to tell us how you used it!

Image: chuttersnap

What Time do English People Usually Eat?

pixel2013 / Pixabay

A) Match the sentence halves:

  1. We have breakfast at __________.
  2. We have a mid-morning snack at __________.
  3. We have lunch at __________.
  4. We have a cup of tea and a biscuit at __________.
  5. We have dinner at __________.
  6. We have supper at __________.
  7. We have a snack __________.

a) whenever we feel a bit peckish!

b) one o’clock.

c) six o’clock in the evening.

d) about eleven o’clock.

e) eight o’clock at night.

f) seven o’clock in the morning.

g) about four o’clock in the afternoon.

B) What time do YOU eat during the day?

Answers (no peeping!):

1. f)  2. d)  3. b)  4. g)  5. c)  6. e)  7. a)

Hashtag - Englishness

Want to Know what the English are REALLY Like? Try this Hashtag!

When I started reading some of the tweets on this recent trending topic on Twitter, I knew that I had to share them with you! If you are interested in understanding the true character of English people (which is an awkward combination of shyness, embarrassment, and self-righteousness) check out this hashtag to learn more about our quirky ways!

https://twitter.com/hashtag/VeryBritishOffences

Click below to listen to the podcast and hear my commentary of the following top ten tweets. Don’t forget to watch the video and like Purland Training on Facebook!

Listen and download the free MP3 lesson: Hashtag Englishness (22 MB, Google Drive)

There is more free material on the topic of Englishness – including podcasts and videos – here:

Finally, here’s my contribution to the hashtag:

Quick Christmas Quiz for ESOL Students!

NEW! Quick Christmas Quiz for ESOL Students!

Are you looking for a fun Christmas quiz that you can do with your ESOL or English Language students in class? Then look no further!

Quick Christmas Quiz for ESOL Students!

Quick Christmas Quiz for ESOL Students!

ArtsyBee / Pixabay

Moz the Monster – Comprehension Questions for English Classes

NEW! Moz the Monster – Comprehension Questions for English Classes

Check out the heart-warming video for the brand new John Lewis Christmas advert – and answer comprehension questions in your English class!

Click here!

Moz the Monster - John Lewis Christmas Advert - Discussion Questions

NEW! Moz the Monster – Discussion Questions for English Classes

Watch the video for the new John Lewis Christmas advert and answer discussion questions with a partner or group!

Click here!

Helpful Notices - Englishness

FREE ELT Podcast! Helpful Notices – Englishness

Learn about helpful notices in English with this free ELT podcast by Matt Purland.

We look at a selection of English notices and discuss how and why they are passive aggressive and often provide too much information.

You can also watch the video lesson here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu-jmoQ7E9o

jebzwoleja / Pixabay

Check out more great free podcasts here: https://purlandtraining.podbean.com/

Free LIVE English Class on YouTube – Helpful Notices

Free LIVE English Class on YouTube – Helpful Notices

Join us live as we talk about the topic of Englishness and look at some of the helpful – yet passive-aggressive – notices that English people so love to put up.

Click here to subscribe to the Purland Training channel on YouTube!

Watch this video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pu-jmoQ7E9o&t=2092s