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What does 'head above water' mean?



 
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What does 'head above water' mean? #1 (permalink) Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:12 am   What does 'head above water' mean?
 

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #381 "English Slang Idioms (112)", question 2

When she first started working for the company she had a hard time keeping her head above .......... She could barely cope with the workload and with learning all the different company regulations.

(a) ground
(b) water
(c) criticisms
(d) clouds

English Language Tests, Intermediate level

ESL/EFL Test #381 "English Slang Idioms (112)", answer 2

When she first started working for the company she had a hard time keeping her head above water. She could barely cope with the workload and with learning all the different company regulations.

Correct answer: (b) water
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Hello,
Will be correct if I choose the word ground? Please explain . Many thanks.
Nigmatullina
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Joined: 30 Mar 2010
Posts: 52
Location: Russian Federation

What does 'head above water' mean? #2 (permalink) Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:34 am   What does 'head above water' mean?
 

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Hi,

'Water' is the only possible word here. It means that she was just able to survive. If you are having difficulty swimming in the sea or a lake, you need to keep your head above water so that you don't go under and drown.

Alan
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What does 'head above water' mean? #3 (permalink) Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:40 am   What does 'head above water' mean?
 

Hi Nigmatullina,

first of all "keeping the head above water" looks like a fixed English term. On the other hand "above ground" in my imagination needed a definite article since ground provides the idea of being solid. So that itīs not so hard to keep the head above the ground whereat you might drown in water if you donīt strive hard.

Just my humble idea of it

Michael
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Joined: 20 Apr 2006
Posts: 1429
Location: next to Dortmund , Europe

What does 'head above water' mean? #4 (permalink) Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:55 am   What does 'head above water' mean?
 

Dear Alan,
Thanks a lot for your help.

Regards,
Ramilya
Nigmatullina
You can meet me at english-test.net


Joined: 30 Mar 2010
Posts: 52
Location: Russian Federation

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