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Sep 6, 2012

We're back in business! In fact, I'm back in business. This is an English expression, an idiom(1). And what does it mean? It means that things are working again as they should. I decided to call this podcast 'Back in business' because I am beginning to do my podcasts again, after missing several weeks. I do apologize for disappearing during the summer, but life became very hectic(2). Now that there is more of a routine in my home, I can take time to work on my podcasts, and enjoy bringing you the expressions and useful language that will make your English sound natural. It's good to be back in business. You will hear this expression in all English speaking countries. If, for example, your car has a flat battery(3), and you charge it, hoping that when it has enough power, you will be able to start your car. You finish the charging process, detach the cables(4), and turn the key. Suddenly, "Vroom!" it works; the battery is full of energy, and your motor is working. That is when you say with a smile, "We're back in business." The car is working as it should. This idiom can be used in most situations. Let's say that you are going to catch a plane but it is delayed(5). After waiting and waiting, you hear the airport announcer say, "Flight 801 to Madrid will begin boarding (6)in 15 minutes," your response could easily be, "Hey, we're back in business!" So, this expression is often said with a smile. An opposite expression that you use when your plans have to suddenly change, or when things are not working, is "There's a bump in the road." You can imagine a smooth road that you are traveling on, and suddenly you can't go any further because of a big bump. There is a delay, you need to call for help, or you have to solve the problem yourself. This expression can also be used in many situations. An example of a coversation that you might have using both expressions is the following:

"Our company had its annual meeting yesterday."

"Oh really? Did it go well?"

"Yes, but there was a bump in the road."

"What happened?"

"The main speaker choked on an olive and had to be taken to hospital. Thankfully, his assistant was familiar with the presentation, so we were back in business."

1. The word idiom sounds a lot like 'idiot' but has nothing to do with it. An idiom is an expression that is native to a country, and not obvious in meaning. For example, in Spain, if you want to describe someone as being talkative, you could say, "He talks through his elbows." In other countries, it might not be obvious that that person talks a lot. The expression is typically Spanish, and needs to be interpreted, and learned as a complete expression, not translated.

2. Hectic is another word for 'too busy'. It is like a mix of 'chaos' and 'busy'.

a. I have a hectic schedule at work. I hope I can surivive!

b. The tour of the city was too hectic; we were in a rush, and we saw too many things.

3. There are certain words that we use with batteries. A battery has 'power' of course. When it has its maximum power, we say that it is 'full'. When it no longer has power, we say that it is 'flat'. You could say 'empty' as people would understand, but the correct word is 'flat'. And, in order to regain power, we 'charge' batteries.

a. I need to charge my cell phone battery because I have almost no power left.

b. My car battery is completely flat. I don't think I can charge it anymore. I just need to buy a new one.

4. In the podcast I mentioned detaching the cables from the car battery. In other words, I was talking about taking off the wires that were charging the battery. A cable is generally a wire conductor that is covered in plastic. A 'wire' is not always a conductor of electricity; it might be used for something else (like hanging a picture). Cables are used when charging cars. Infact, those specific cables are called 'jumper cables'.

a. Be careful when you detach the jumper cables from the car battery. You could get a shock!

b. She makes the most beautiful art  out of copper wire.

5. 'Delay' and  'delayed' are essential words in English. Delay is a verb and a noun, and delayed is used as an adjective.

a. The plane was delayed for three hours, so we took the train instead.

b. He's going to delay our plans if he keeps talking/ he's going to make us late if he keeps talking.

6. 'To board' is another essential verb in English which means to get on a plane/ boat/ train. It sounds exactly like 'bored' (which means unentertained) but has a slightly different spelling.

a. It's time to board the train; hurry up, let's go.

b. We can't board the plane for at least 15 minutes.

over nine years ago

Hallo Anna,
I'm glad to hear that you are back in business :-)
I enjoy reading and listening to your podcasts.

I wish you a wonderful day
Linda from Germany

over nine years ago

Dear Anna,

Thanks so much for these lovely and interesting podcasts. I have been reading and listening all of them from the beginning since a few months now, which means around 2-3 a day sometimes! I was quite obsessed about them, trying to catch up with all your stories. I specially like your podcasts because they spoke about your daily life and interests and for me, it's the most interesting part. Obviously, I enjoy to practice and improve my english but the real motivation is to hear your stories. So thanks a lot for sharing all this!
I am very curious and happy to learn more about England and Washington State. And to know how you can charge a flat battery. You are such a good " bricoleuse" ( in french).

I look forward to read more of your podcasts, sincerely, Sandra