Hello, how are you today? I’m Mark, and this is The Everyday Language Podcast for English Learners, made in Akita, Japan.
Today’s idiom is,
Which is another way of saying – don’t start something you can’t finish. As finishing whatever you are doing is important.
When spoken to another person, “don’t bite off more than you can chew”, can be viewed as advice, or a warning.
In an argument, when angry words are being spoken, you might hear someone say,
“If you keep talking like that, you’ll regret it, don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
It’s the kind of idiom you might hear before a boxing match or in an action movie.
I can imagine Bruce Willis, saying to the bad guys in his Die Hard action movie heyday,
“Don’t bite off more than you can chew, yippee-ki-yay.”
I’m not sure if he actually did say that, but it’s the kind of thing he would say.
Lately, my son has been getting into his children’s action tv programmes. So he often tries to have make-believe fights with me at home.
One time he got carried away, and hit me, and kicked me when I wasn’t expecting it, and I said to him,
“Careful! Don’t bite off more than you can chew.”
I wasn’t angry or anything. I just wanted him to know that he has to consider others.
You can also change the tense of bite. To the simple past tense –
You could say,
“I bit off more than I could chew, trying to run 10 km with no training.”
This means that I failed when I tried to run 10 km with no training. You know, it was too hard, it was too painful.
you can change bit or bite to the present continuous,
“You are biting off more than you can chew, trying to do your exam preparation at the last minute.”
Last minute means the last moment, for instance, the night before your exam.
Therefore, this means that [the speaker] thinks doing your exam preparation at the last minute is not enough [time]. You will probably fail the exam because you didn’t spend enough time revising.
You are biting off more than you can chew, trying to do your exam preparation at the last minute.
How to be an active listener – Listening tip 1
Now changing the subject slightly.
In the last episode, I mentioned about giving you some active listening skills tips.
So here’s the first. It’s quite simple, if you want to listen to someone better, and give them the feeling of being heard, make sure you give them your full attention.
So you know, turn the tv off, or turn the radio volume down, or music volume down. Or go to a quiet place. You know it’s hard to listen to someone with noisy distractions or a noisy environment.
If you want to listen better and communicate better, you have to know what the other person is saying.
And, if you are trying to do two things at once, for example, while listening, you are also writing a shopping list. One of the things you are doing, either listening or writing the shopping list, or maybe both, might not turn out how you wanted.
So maybe, you write down you need to buy eggs, and you already have eggs.
Or probably, more importantly, your friend or partner might get disappointed that you’re not really listening to what they have to say.
And maybe they’ll lose a bit of trust in you.
So, remember the idiom, “don’t bite off more than you can chew” – when it’s time to listen, really listen.
Don’t try to do anything else. Half-listening isn’t great for the person who wants you to hear what they have to say.
Ok, that doesn’t mean you have to, you know, be intense and you know, stare at the person and be, super-super, you know, super intense, super focused, just make sure that your attention is directed to that person.
Ok, that’s it for today. Thanks for listening to The Everyday Language Podcast.
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yippee-ki-yay – an old American saying said by cowboys like “yeehaw” or “whoppee”
make-believe – imaginary
If you want an easy to use reference dictionary about English idioms this is my recommendation:
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Thank you, Setuniman, and Tristan Lohengrin, for use of your music.
Intro Music – Stock Media provided by Setuniman / Pond5. Royalty Free License.
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