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Number One

Numbers can be tricky. On the one hand, they are simply numbers. On the other hand, they have meanings. "I for one" use these expressions a lot.

Many people consider themselves number one -- the most important person. They are always "looking out for number one" and "taking care of number one." It is as if they are "the one and only" person on Earth. Some people however, are not so self-centered. My brother is such a person. It is true -- no joke. I am not trying to "pull a fast one" on you.



Some problems are difficult to solve. But there are a lot of number expressions that can help. For example, if we "put two and two together" we might come up with the right answer. We know that "two heads are better than one" -- it is always better to work with another person to solve a problem.

Sometimes "there are no two ways about it" -- some problems have only one solution. You cannot "be of two minds" over this.

But with any luck, we could solve the problem in "two shakes of a lambs tail" -- we could have our answers quickly and easily.


'What a Dog's Life!'

Americans use many expressions with the word "dog." People in the United States love their dogs and treat them well. They take their dogs for walks, let them play outside and give them good food and medical care. However, dogs without owners to care for them lead a different kind of life. The expression "to lead a dog's life" describes a person who has an unhappy existence.

Some people say we live in a "dog-eat-dog world." That means many people are competing for the same things, like good jobs. They say that to be successful, a person has to "work like a dog." This means they have to work very, very hard. Such hard work can make people "dog-tired." And the situation would be even worse if they became "sick as a dog."


Hold Your Horses!

Many people dependedon horses for transportation, farming and other kinds of work in the past.. A lot of people still like to ride horses. And horse racing is also popular. So it is not surprisingthat Americans still use expressions about the animals. Long ago, people who were rich or important rode horses that were very tall.Today, if a girl acts like she is better than everyone else, you might say sheshould "get off her high horse." Yesterday, my children wanted me to take them to the playground. But I had tofinish my work, so I told them to "hold your horses" -- wait until I finish what Iam doing. My two boys like to compete against each other and play in a violent way. I always tell them to stop "horsing around" or someone could get hurt.


Are We Really Just Monkeys?

Monkeys are very similar to us in many ways -- most have ten fingers and tentoes, and brains much like ours. We enjoy watching them because they often act like us. In fact, Charles Darwins theory of evolution says that monkeysand humans share a common ancestor. Songwriter William Gilbert, in the musical Princess Ida, wrote: Darwinian man, though well-behaved, at best is only a monkey shaved. His words -- sung to Sir Arthur Sullivans music -- make listeners smile. Well,monkeys make us smile, too, because they are creatures full of playful tricks.


This Story Is 'The Cat's Meow!'

Cats are the most popular pets among Americans. So it is not surprising thatthere are many expressions about cats. Some cats like to catch small birds, like canaries. If someone looks veryproud or satisfied with himself, we say he looks like the cat that ate thecanary. Sometimes, a cat likes to play with a small animal itcatches. So if you play cat and mouse with someone,you change between different kinds of behavior whendealing with another person. For example, a child mightoffer something sweet to her little brother and then takeit away when he reaches for it.


A Cup of Joe With Average Joes and Plain Janes

A persons name is very important. Some names also have special meanings in popular American expressions. To better understand what I mean, sit back and listen. You might even want to get a cup of Joe -- I mean, a cup of coffee.

One day, an Average Joe was walking down the street. An Average Joe is a common person -- either male or female. This Average Joe was lost. He did not know Jack about where he was going. By this, I mean he did not know anything about where to find things in the city.


Are You Losing It?

Tom Smith is the best hitter on his company's baseballteam. For weeks during the playing season, Tom hit ahome run in every game the team played. But thensuddenly he stopped hitting home runs. He could not hitthe baseball at all. One day he struck out three times in one game. Hesaid, "I am afraid I am losing it." Mary Jones bought a dress in a woman's clothing store. She felt very happy about buying the dress until she got home. Then sheremembered she had left her credit card at the store when she used it to payfor the dress. It was the third time that month that Mary had forgottensomething important.


You Don't Have to Be a Rocket Scientist to Read This

"You do not need to be a rocket scientist." Americans hear these words often. People say them in schools, offices and factories. Broadcasters on radio and television use them.

This is how you might hear the words used.

Workers in an office are afraid to try to use their new computer system. Their employer tells them not to be foolish: "You do not need to be a rocket scientist to learn this," he says.

Or, high school students cannot seem to understand something their teacher is explaining. "Come on," she says. "You do not need to be a rocket scientist to understand this."


A Halloween Special: The Devil is Everywhere

Many expressions in American English come from theworld of religion. Some common idioms are based onhigh, religious ideals. But today we look at the bad orevil side of religion. The Devil is the most powerful spirit of evil inChristianity, Islam and other religions. The devil is clearly at work in these idioms and expressions. Speaking of the devil, to speak of the devil means totalk about someone at the same time the person appears. Here's an example,


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