Wednesday, December 9, 2015

(to) shut down

Do you remember reading this headline?

Beijing (CNN)Much of the Chinese capital shut down Tuesday after Beijing's city government issued its first red alert for pollution, closing schools and construction sites and restricting the number of cars on the road. 


In the sentence above, it's used as an intransitive verb.  

 If you're not sure what (to) shut down means, read the following subheading:

Children kept at home, building sites and factories closed and cars kept off roads as pollution engulfs Chinese capital


It can also be used as a transitive verb:

Security Threat Shuts Down U.S. Consulate In Istanbul



This common two-word verb is also used as a noun!

It seems like Congress is always threatening a shutdown, such as this one:



28 Republican Men Threaten Government Shutdown Over Planned Parenthood


If you look online, you can see how often members of Congress threatens a shutdown if they don't get what they want. How many recent threats of a shutdown can you find?   Here's one more, to get you started:

Obamacare looms large in shutdown fight


And by the way, not only politicians threaten shutdowns. Anybody can get into the act.  Taxi drivers and truckers can do it too, as we see here:

'Truckers to Shut Down America' Shut Down by Traffic


Fortunately they were unsuccessful.

Friday, September 18, 2015

"I've Got Your Back!"

The first time somebody said to me, "I've got your back," I have to admit, I didn't know what he was talking about!

My eyes were looking ahead of me at the person I was talking to while my mind was visualizing somebody standing behind me. NO, there was no threat from behind me. My mind went back to what I could see. I had an inkling what this phrase refered to but if I were being threatened by somebody, in front of me would be the place I'd want somebody to be standing if they were trying to protect me!

I understand this phrase assumes that a threat will come from behind, which isn't always the case. I can tell you. The stranger who was holding a very large knife to me in my own apartment was, one morning, standing quite in front of me, not behind me. All I had to do was to open my eyes.

Be that as it may, this phrase "I've got your back" has now taken off. I hear it on TV, on action programs and movies, in book titles. Huffington Post did a piece on this in 2014. but the post seems to be making exactly my point: That the people we are most afraid of, and where people often feel the greatest threat, is from those we know, those who are standing right in front of us! Maybe even those we live with!

(The people who I know, whom I most trust, would never say that, by the way.)

To keep this post short, let's just say that the phrase "I've got your back" means "I'll protect you."



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

(to) Hold Back

Here's a headline from today's New York Times:

In Targeting ISIS, U.S. Holds Back to Shield Civilians


Today's two-word verb is "(to) hold back."

Do you think it means:
  1. (to) hurry up
  2. (to) protect
  3. (to) refrain from?

Which sentence tells you what this means?
  1. American and allied warplanes are equipped with the most precise aerial arsenal ever fielded.
  2. But American officials say they are not striking significant — and obvious — Islamic State targets out of fear that the attacks will accidentally kill civilians. 
  3. Killing such innocents could hand the militants a major propaganda coup and alienate both the local Sunni tribesmen, whose support is critical to ousting the militants, and Sunni Arab countries that are part of the American-led coalition.
The answers are (c) and (2).


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Here's another current headline:

Clinton’s Staff Held Back Emails Requested Under FOIA

By this meaning, would you say that Mrs. Clinton showed the emails requested under the Freedom of Information Act, or not?

The verb (to) hold back can also mean to not progress at a normal rate. We see it used this way referring to education. Here is an example:


What holds you back? #AForEffort: Held back by the education system


This is a question for all of us: What holds us back from doing the things we need to do?


You are invited to comment below.


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Friday, March 13, 2015

(to) follow through

The big news these days is ISIS and here we see this headline?

The U.S. and Canada may have a tougher time defending North America if Russia follows through on a plan to step up its military activity, according to the commander of NORAD.



Does this phrase, FOLLOW THROUGH, have anything to do with the verb follow?

Sort of, but don't rely on that to explain the meaning of follow through.

Follow through means to complete that task or assignment which you have begun with the intention of completing. In the above example, if Russia follows through on a plan to step up its military activity. . . .


See the following blog post:

Set a goal but didn't follow through? Tips to resetting habits


Here are a few additional examples from the news:

RNC chairman expects to follow through with NBC, CNN debate boycott


If the goal is not a good one, maybe it's good if you don't follow through. Can you think of some plans of yours in which it's a good thing that you followed through? Can you think of some plans of yours in which it's a good thing that you didn't follow through?


Monday, February 2, 2015

(to) Come Down With...

A recent article had this to say:


The disease outbreak became apparent when visitors reported coming down with measles after visiting the park from December 15 to December 20. 


This is a common two-word verb that is used in the news when reporting on newsworthy epidemics. It is very common in conversation.

Here's another example from a website:


Each year from October to May, millions of people all across the United States come down with the flu. Kids get the flu most often. But people in every age group — including teens — can catch it.


We use this verb to describe when a person shows symptoms of a disease.

The ebola outbreak resulted in this verb being used frequently:


US health officials are seeking 132 people who flew on a plane with a Texas nurse on the day before she came down with symptoms of Ebola.



Here's to wishing everybody good health!!