In time, these lessons and "stubs" will be migrated to the Buzzwords site.
Until then, consider them historical.

An Apple a Day Keeps the Doctor Away


1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Why does the man tell his friend to eat "fresh fruit"?


James sees his friend, a man named John, eating an apple.

James: Johnny Appleseed!
John: Who?
James: Oh, no one. There was an American folk hero named John Chapman. He went around planting apple trees, so people called him "Johnny Appleseed." And since your name is John…
John: I get it. Anyway, want an apple?
James: Why not? You know what they say about apples, don't you?
John: No…
James: "An apple a day keeps the doctor away."
John: Huh?
James: I said, "An apple a day keeps the doctor away." It means that if you eat an apple every day, the doctor won't need to come see you.
John: Is that true?
James: Well, I doubt that it's one hundred percent true. But everyone knows that eating more fruits and vegetables is healthier for you.
John: Do you?
James: Do I…
John: Do you eat a lot of fruits and vegetables?
James: Of course! I'm a vegetarian!


Our ancestors had some clear ideas about what is good for a person. Modern science often proves them right. People in the old days knew that fruits and vegetables were good for us, and they are!

More notes:
  • no one: When James says "no one," he means that the name he said is not important. Your friend uses the phone in front of you; when he hangs up, you say, "Who were you talking to?" He says, "No one." Of course he was talking to someone, but he means it was no one important, or no one in particular. Or maybe he just doesn't want to tell you!
  • folk hero: Every culture has certain popular heroes. They became popular because the people kept repeating their stories to each other. They were not created by a writer, or a government agency, or by modern media. Their fame came from the hearts of the people. That is a "folk hero."
  • Huh?: This is a way to say "What?" or "Pardon me?" When John says it, James repeats what he said, then explains.
  • the doctor won't need to come see you: When this proverb was made, doctors often came to sick people's homes. This was called a "house call." These days, we usually go to the doctor's office. So maybe we would say now, "An apple a day keeps us away from the doctor." But that doesn't rhyme!
  • everyone knows…: We use this phrase to introduce "common knowledge." These are the things that most people in a culture (or in the world) are expected to know.


Here is some vocabulary from the story. Match it to its meaning.
Use each of the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. A: Hey, dude. B: __________? A: I said, "Hey, dude!" What's up?
2. I can't take my car to the garage tomorrow, so the mechanic kindly said he'd make a __________ and come look at it here.
3. besides being the first president of the US, George Washington became a kind of a __________.
4. __________ that you shouldn't drink and drive.
5. A: We need to fix the air conditioner. Everybody says they're hot. B: Who complained? A: __________. We just need to fix it.


If you can, try to talk about these questions in English with a friend. If not, try writing your answers.

1. Are there any "folk heroes" in your culture? Talk about one or two.
2. What's your favorite fruit? Your favorite vegetable? How often do you eat it? How much do you eat in a week?
3. Do you know anyone who is a vegetarian? Why do you think people become vegetarians? What do you think of it?


1. Huh; 2. house call; 3. folk hero; 4. Everyone knows; 5. no one

This lesson is ©2012 by James Baquet. You may share this work freely. Teachers may use it in the classroom, as long as students are told the source (URL). You may not publish this material or sell it. Please write to me if you have any questions about "fair use."

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