BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Beat around the bush: when you tell someone not to ‘beat around the bush’ you’re telling them to stop avoiding saying things directly.
Rob invites Li to go on a camping trip with him. But will she enjoy it? And what could be lurking behind the bush? Listen to the programme to find out.
(Rob and Li are outdoors)
Rob: Ah, I love the outdoors! And this is the perfect spot for us to start our camping adventure, Li.
Li: Oh… yes… nature, Rob. You said this camping trip was an invitation I couldn’t refuse. Well, I really couldn’t as you were so insistent…
Rob: Well, we can put the tent over there, next to that bush…
Li: It would be a good place if it wasn’t so close to an ant nest…
Rob: …and we can light a fire near that rock…
Li: …the wind might put out the fire…
Rob: It’s just a breeze.
Li: But it’s bringing in the clouds. It’s going to rain…
Rob: Li, nothing seems to please you, does it? Are you trying to tell me something?
Li: Well, the thing is…
Rob: Yes? What’s the problem Li?
Li: It’s just that the tent is a bit small and… well… you know what I mean…
Rob: Li, I don’t know what you mean! Now just come on, just tell me what’s wrong – don’t beat around the bush!
Li: Beat around the bush? I’m not even touching the bush.
Rob: I know. In English, when you tell someone not to ‘beat around the bush’ you’re telling them to stop avoiding saying things directly. Let’s hear some examples.
- My boss didn’t beat around the bush this morning – he just told me straight: If you want a better salary, go and work somewhere else!
- Dinner, cinema… Peter couldn’t find the words to tell Kelly he wanted to break up. He spent the whole date beating around the bush. In the end, he broke up with her by text.
Rob: OK, now you know. So Li, stop beating around the bush and tell me what the problem is.
Li: The problem is: I hate camping!
Rob: Why didn’t you say that before?
Li: You were so enthusiastic, I couldn’t say “no” to your invitation.
Rob: I’m sorry, Li.
Li: And I’m sorry for beating around the bush. I should have just told you.
(Sound coming from the bush)
Li: And by the look of things we are both going to be sorry if we don’t run to the car and get the hell out of here!
Rob: Oh there is a bear just behind the bush!
Li: A bear?! Let’s run, Rob! Bye.
Rob: And it sounds like a really big bear! Let’s go! Bye.
The English We Speak – Beat around the bush Transcript Video
The English We Speak
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- The English We Speak – To make a monkey out of me
- The English We Speak – Take a rain check
- The English We Speak – Hot potato
- The English We Speak – Use your loaf
- The English We Speak – There’s method to my madness
- The English We Speak – Skeleton in the closet
- The English We Speak – In good nick
- The English We Speak – Get lost!
- The English We Speak – Cheap and cheerful
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