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ESL Lesson: Phrasal verb hold

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Phrasal verb hold or "Hold on"

This is another story with lots of Phrasal Verb examples. As you probably know phrasal verbs are made up of two parts — the verb + a preposition.

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I''m sure you have noticed that one phrasal verb can have hundreds of different meanings. In this story we focus on the verb hold.

Before we start I''d like you to look at this example:

"Please hold on a minute I''ll be right back!"
Can you guess the meaning of this sentence? You''re right. It means "Please wait a minute, don''t go away until I''m back."

Would you like more examples? Read this story and try to guess the meaning of the 24 expressions with the verb hold in italics.

"Hold on"

Some people can''t stand open spaces. That''s called "agoraphobia". Some people can''t stand closed spaces. That''s called "claustrophobia". I suffer from the latter. Whenever I travel in a lift, I have to hold myself together just in case I get the urge to shout and scream. I must admit I do hold off doing things like that whenever other people are present. The other day I was put to the test and had to hold on to every bit of self control I had.

I was late for an appointment on the fifth floor of the building because my train had been held up through some technical hitch or other. Despite my endeavour to lose weight and use stairs wherever possible I had no alternative but to use the lift on this occasion. I ran to catch it just as the doors were closing until someone kindly held them back for me. We went first to the second floor and three people got out leaving a total of six, well within the specified maximum load. Then the wretched thing stopped between the third and fourth floor. The different reactions were interesting.

First there was silence for a minute, everyone holding to the old-fashioned belief in Britain that you don''t talk to strangers. The first person to hold forth was an old man with a long grey beard. He didn''t know how people nowadays could be so inefficient. "How", he asked his captive audience, "did these people hold down their jobs?" When he was a young man, he continued when no-one answered his question, "you held on to a job only if you did it properly." Most people held off making any comments because they were too preoccupied with the irritation of being delayed.

I decided to hold out a helping hand mainly to control my nerves by suggesting that we pushed the emergency button, wondering just how long I could in reality hold out without breaking out in a sweat or screaming. The young woman standing next to the control panel dutifully pressed the red button. We waited. The silence was broken by the old man announcing to the group that he "personally didn''t hold with this newfangled technology In his younger days he ... " — but we were spared another history lesson when a voice was heard crackling through the speaker grill telling us that it was aware of our situation. At this we all laughed including the old man. It broke the ice. Feelings were not being held in any longer. Comments were exchanged as to how long we would be held up in the lift. One man dressed appropriately in black looked mournful not holding out much hope for a speedy repair. He had experienced problems with this lift on another occasion.

Meantime I was actively holding back my feelings of stress and anxiety as everyone else was being so calm. I tried to think of other things and wondered whether my appointment could be held over for another day, promising next time to hold to my plan of using stairs.

Fortunately our spirits held up very well. We all seemed to hold ourselves up to each other as models of calmness and patience so that nobody dared show any weakness. This certainly helped me. Every ten minutes or so the disembodied voice consoled us inviting us to hold on for just a bit longer. As time ticked by the voice told us its name was Eric. We got to know Eric quite well that morning as he held out promises of an early release. He made us laugh, too. His last pronouncement telling us to hold on yet again was followed by the reassuring:

"Now, don''t go away, will you?" We did of course — two hours later.

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Next:ESL Lesson: Phrasal verb hold (2)

Author: Alan Townend

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