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part of a chair; rear part of the human body
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Newsletter January 29 - 2007FREE email English course

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Usage of the word turn or "My turn"

If you look through the topics raised in the forums of www.english-test.net and in particular the one headed: English Vocabulary, Grammar and Idioms, it won''t take you long to find a question about phrasal verbs. These are without doubt the trickiest, nastiest, sneakiest devices that ever a learner of English has to put up with. There I''ve just used one. Honestly I couldn''t help it. The reason why these constructions are so disliked is because they have no logic in them. What about the verb take - a nice quiet and unassuming verb that would, you''d think, never step out of line?

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But add off or on or up to it and this verb that wouldn''t normally say boo to a goose suddenly gets ideas above its station and creates a fistful of new meanings. Then when we try to explain what they all mean, it gets very complicated. With that in mind I thought I''d just take one of these apparently innocuous verbs, add a few prepositions (or particles as grammarians like to call them) to it and show what they mean in a short story. The chosen verb is turn and it''s all about when I got myself a part-time job during a vacation when I was a student:

Most students have to or try to earn a little extra by getting a holiday job. They turn aside from (leave behind) their studies and experience the real world for a short while. One long hot summer I turned to (undertook) waiting as my method of getting cash. Perhaps I should turn that word ''waiting'' into (change it into) a more specific explanation. I mean being a waiter in a hotel. I had of course turned my hand to (tried) many jobs during the vacation periods but waiting was certainly the most arduous. As hotel guests have little else to do but eat, they are constantly in need of being waited upon. The one hotel that hadn''t turned down (rejected) my application (it was a very popular job in that part of the country) was situated right in the middle of a forest and as you turned into (walked up) the drive and saw the rolling hills all around you, it felt like the middle of nowhere. It had been a very large private house that had been turned into (converted into) a small hotel for twenty-five guests. The new owners had had to turn out (tidy) all the rooms which were full of old junk accumulated over a period of sixty years as well having to turn out (remove) a tramp who had lived in an upstairs room for two years without the knowledge of the old lady who was the original owner. The tramp turned out (was later discovered) to be a distant relative but hadn''t liked to mention his presence to the old lady as she was stone deaf.

When I turned up (arrived) for my first day at work, the hotel had already been flourishing for five years. They were so successful that they were always turning down (refusing) bookings and even turning people away (telling them to leave) from the house who turned up (came to the hotel) on the off chance. Most of the residents were quite elderly and they all invariably turned in (went to bed) early most evenings. During their waking hours they made up for the quietness at night by demanding drinks, refreshments, newspapers and anything that they could think of. The waiting was done by me and Doris, who should have turned it in (stopped working) years ago and been a guest there herself on the strength of her age alone but as she frequently told me, she had no intention of turning into (changing into) an old fogey.

I suppose serving breakfast was the most difficult task to turn your hand to (perform) because there were so many variations of drink, cereal, egg and toast. You had to stand there for ages as each guest made up their mind, turning over (considering) the choices in their minds. After a long wait like that very frequently they would turn down (refuse) everything and simply ask for a cup of tea. One morning an old lady turned up at (reached) the dining room sat down, sniffed at the air full of breakfast smells, got up, turned around (went the other way) and walked out again. Apparently she had completely forgotten that she''d already eaten breakfast that day. I turned aside (looked the other way) to hide my smile but Doris caught me at it. ''Don''t you turn your nose up at the old dears'', (Don''t you behave in a superior way) she rebuked me. ''You''ll be like that one day. Just you wait.'' I turned back (went again to where she was) to apologise but she''d already turned her back on me (ignored me) and gone back to the kitchen. She rather turned against (was not very friendly to) me after that. With that experience of course I learnt a little bit about being a waiter but also more importantly a little about life.

I wish now I could turn the clock back (return to the past) and tell her how right she was. You see, I''ve just turned all the lights out (switched off the lights) ready to turn in (go to bed) for the night but I can''t in all honesty remember whether I''ve told you this story before. I''ll have to check with Torsten in the morning, I''m sure he''ll remember.

Good night.

Alan Townend

Please write your review here: Feedback on audio recording (Usage of the word turn or "My turn")

My turnSmall talk
Spring has sprungMay I have a word?
Hope to hear from you!The way they say it
Do you know where you''re going?Is that English you''re speaking?
Things are hotting upGive a dog a bad name
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