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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

His Bark is Worse than His Bite



GET READY:

1. Can you guess the meaning of this saying?
2. Do the men think the first man's boss is actually nice?

READ THIS:

James sees his friend, a man named David, having coffee at a café.

James: Hi, Dave. Mind if I sit here?
David: No, have a seat.
James: What's new, buddy?
David: Awww, my boss is giving me a hard time. He yells at me about everything.
James: Who's your boss?
David: Simeon McNealon.
James: Oh, I know him! He growls a lot, I know, but in fact, "His bark is worse than his bite."
David: You mean...
James: He makes a lot of noise, yelling and stuff, but actually he's a pretty nice guy. He won't really hurt you. Much.
David: You think so?
James: Yeah, I'm sure of it.
David: OK, I'll just have to take your word for it.
James: Cool. Gotta run. I'm meeting someone for dinner.
David: OK, take it easy.
James: You too!

NOTES:

A lot of people like to keep a dog around to guard the house. In fact, the dog probably won't actually bite anyone; but he'll make a lot of noise if someone comes to the door.

The noise that dogs make is usually called a "bark" (like cows moo, and horses neigh or whinny). So in fact, we can say of most dogs we know that "their barks are worse than their bites." The same is often true of people.
More notes:
  • Mind if I sit here?: This is short for "Do you mind if I sit here?" and the proper answer (meaning "it's OK to sit") is "No (I don't mind)." Because this can be confusing, we often add something to clarify, like Dave's "have a seat."
  • giving me a hard time: To "give someone a hard time" is to bother them, scold them, nag them again and again. (David's "Awww" indicates annoyance or frustration.)
  • He growls a lot: He makes unfriendly noises. This doesn't mean he actually sounds like a dog or a bear, but that he scolds, yells, etc.
  • yelling and stuff: The "yelling" here is not literal; it just means "scolding." Also, "and stuff" is a very informal way to say "et cetera."
  • Much: Adding "much" at the end of a statement is a way to make a little joke. The previous sentence makes it sound like the boss won't hurt David at all. The "much" makes it sound like he might hurt David a little.
  • take your word for it: To "take someone's word for something" means to believe them, to accept that what they say is true.
  • Cool. Another way to say "OK" or "good." It's very informal.
  • Gotta run: A very natural way to say "I have to go now."

PRACTICE:

Use the above terms in one of the following sentences. Be sure to use the correct form.

1. If you get home late, your dad probably won't kill you. __________.
2. A: I'll bring you a present next time I come over. B: __________! I can't wait!
3. Why are you __________? Just do what I ask and stop complaining!
4. When someone does a little thing wrong, my teacher __________ so much that we don't listen to her anymore.
5. A: __________? B: Sorry, that seat is taken.
6. I've never seen Paris. But if you say it's beautiful, I'll just have to __________.
7. My grandpa __________, but I know he loves me.

QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION OR WRITING:

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

1. Do you know someone whose "bark" is worse than his or her "bite"?
2. Do you ever "yell" or "growl" at people? Is it effective? Which is better, that way, or talking sweetly? Why do you think so?
3. Describe your ideal boss. What would he or she be like? How would he or she speak to you?

ANSWERS TO THE PRACTICE:

1. Much; 2. Cool; 3. giving me a hard time; 4. yells and stuff; 5. Mind if I sit here?; 6. take your word for it; 7. growls a lot

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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