Friday, March 30, 2012

Come Down Hard On ( ~ )

Here's a transitive multi-word idiom that you don't want people doing to you.

Let's first take a look at a few examples from the headlines and see if you can come up with any hypotheses as to what it might mean:

Supreme Court Health Care Law: Justices Come Down Hard On The Mandate 


Law must come down hard on coal mine lawbreakers


NFL Comes Down Hard On New Orleans Saints For 'Bounty-Gate'


Well, based on these three headlines, would you say it means something closer to "to support" or "to admonish"? 

We see it meaning "to admonish", "to criticize harshly".  You can see that someone or something came down hard on somebody or something. It could be a teacher coming down hard on a student, a parent coming down hard on a child, or a spouse coming down hard on a spouse.  In each of these statements, it's a strong statement that may have strong repercussions, often legal.

Put this verb - (to) come down hard on (~ ) - in your browser and see the various cases in which this verb is used. In each case, look to see who did what, and who is coming down hard on him/them, and what would be the repercussions, legal or otherwise, of this.


Monday, March 26, 2012

Breaking Away (to) break away (from)

One of my favorite of all time movies was a 1979 film called "Breaking Away". It was about a group of teenage boys who discover a love for bicycle racing. The term "breaking away" has reference to sports and also to the boys' social lives, as each one has to break away from the expectations of the surrounding world to live a life right for him.

You can view the trailer of this movie by following this link.

This verb "(to) break away" can be used thus in a variety of contexts, from sports to politics to sociology. 

Let's look at how it's used in the news headlines.

As Romney breaks away from the pack, Rick Santorum hopes for an upset

Here's another one:

Presbyterian group breaks away over gay clergy

What is this group breaking away from, and why?

And here is a third headline:

Nigeria breaks away from African Union at its own risk

Why does Nigeria want to break away from the African Union? What could be the consequences of this?

See how many contexts you can find this word used.  In each case, what is the individual or group or object breaking away from, why, and what might be some consequences of this?


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

(to be) at stake

Here's a nice expression that is useful in any number of situations.  It expresses the reality that life and consequences and choices go hand in hand. 

What’s at stake for the candidates tonight on Super Tuesday

Global Warming - What's At Stake

 Social Security:What’s at Stake for Children, Youth, and Grandfamilies

The expression implies that if one thing happens, something else will be at risk. It also implies that if one thing happens, there will be other major consequences.

Is Your Health At Stake? Do No Neglect On What That Really Matters

Is your health at stake if you spend too much time in front of your computer without the proper posture? 

What is at stake is the global warming problem is not controlled or solved?

Find some other colorful expressions in the news and on the Internet that use this expression. Find out what's at stake!!!