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to assess; to appraise; to determine value; to grade; to classify; to sort
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ESL Lesson: Cool Expressions

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Cool expressions or "From one extreme to the other"

In this story will find many idioms with the word cool. As you know an idiom is a fixed phrase that only makes sense when you learn it as a whole because if you look at its words separately the phrase doesn''t make much sense, does it?

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Look at the following example:

"This job seems to be a bit of a hot potato as nobody really wants it."

Now, I''m sure you understand this in this sentence the expression the hot potato is nothing to eat but rather a task or a responsibility that no-one wants to do or take. Maybe, you have your own examples for hot potatoes? If so, you can send them to us via email and we will help you cool them off.

In the meantime you might want to enjoy the following story. Do you know what all the cool expressions in italics mean?

From one extreme to the other

As the railways lines start to buckle, the beaches continue to attract thousands and the treasured pot plants in my garden wither in the extreme heat, my befuddled brain, searching for air as the temperature soars, has turned to the use we make in English of expressions to do with the variations of hot and cold. Let me tell you a story to show you what I mean:

Charlie could be relied on to get hot under the collar about almost anything that upset him. Whereas most people who disagree with you in an argument simply give you a frosty look and then move on.

Charlie would react in an entirely different way. When the argument had hotted up, he would lose his cool and start to rant and rave. Friends would take him to one side at his favourite pub and point out that behaving like that in the heat of the moment was not doing his heart any good. Getting hot and bothered over the smallest things was not conducive to a long and happy life. Women, they said, would tend to give him the cold shoulder if he continued to carry on like this. Then someone in the pub who was noted for being practical and could always see clearly as he said in the cold light of day, mentioned that he''d read somewhere of a course to help people like Charlie.

Another punter said he actually had a leaflet hot off the press giving details of the course. The question was who was going to mention it to Charlie as he could well flare up at the very idea. Dave, who at first blew hot and cold at the idea, eventually agreed to take on the task. There was a bit of tension at first as people waited for Charlie to react but although he didn''t exactly give it a warm welcome, he did indicate that he would think it over and that helped to take the heat out of the moment.

One evening in the pub someone came rushing in saying he''d come hot foot from Charlie''s flat with news about the course. The general expectation was that Charlie had got cold feet about joining but the fact was that he had signed up and would be away for one whole week.

Throughout the next seven days many of the regulars were in a cold sweat wondering what the outcome would be. One diner in the snack bar had such a heated argument over it with another diner that by the time he''d got round to eating his piping hot soup it had become stone cold. Even the casual customers who were so to speak somewhat out in the cold because they didn''t know what had been happening, quite warmed to the idea and decided to join in with the betting that went on as to whether Charlie would be a changed man or not. The landlord even hit on the idea of creating a new cocktail called "Cool Charlie", which sold like hot cakes.

Eventually the day arrived when it was known that Charlie would come to the pub again. It was also agreed that someone should be available to make a remark that would normally have caused him to lose his temper. Now, this was a bit of hot potato and nobody really wanted the job knowing that they might get into hot water.

In the end Martin, the oldest member of the club, found himself in the hot seat and reluctantly agreed. Suddenly the door opened and in burst Charlie. It was impossible to tell whether the course had succeeded in transforming him. It was then that Martin, virtually in cold blood spoke making some derogatory remark about Charlie''s lack of success with women. Everyone''s blood ran cold and those that were nearest to Charlie couldn''t move an inch, they were frozen in their tracks. Charlie laughed quietly and then announced something that was to warm the cockles of everyone''s heart. "Ah yes", he said cool as a cucumber walking over to a young woman sitting in the corner, "let me introduce you all to my fiancée."

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Next:ESL Lesson: Book Expressions

Author: Alan Townend

English Grammar through Stories (PDF)
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