BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Butter up: when you say you’ll ‘butter someone up’, you mean you’ll be especially nice to them in the hope they’ll do something good for you in return.
Feifei needs to be nice to her landlady in order to prevent a rise in her rent. Finn suggests that she butters up the woman. How can she do this? Listen to the programme to find out.
(Feifei and Finn bump into each other at the supermarket)
Finn: Hello Feifei. I didn’t know you shopped at this supermarket too.
Feifei: Hi Finn. Usually I don’t. But it’s close to the office and I have to rush home to welcome an important guest.
Finn: Who is it? Someone I know?
Feifei: No, it’s my landlady. She’s coming to collect some of her post and… well, I want to make her like me because next month, the contract on my flat is due to be renewed and she might want to increase the rent.
Finn: Yeah, I see what you mean. So you’d better butter her up then!
Feifei: Butter? Oh, yes. But I’m a pretty bad cook. If I baked a cake it would probably be horrible!
Finn: No. I don’t mean butter for a cake. In English, when you say you’ll ‘butter someone up’, you mean you’ll be especially nice to them in the hope they’ll do something good for you in return.
Feifei: Oh, I see. So I’ll be nice to her and pay her compliments so that she likes me and keeps the rent low. I’ll ‘butter her up’! But isn’t it a bit insincere?
Finn: Well, it can have a negative connotation, yes. Let’s hear some examples of how to use ‘to butter someone up’ or ‘to butter up someone’, which is today’s expression in The English We Speak.
- Johnny: I was very impressed with your presentation, Mrs Beany. You are really intelligent and perceptive and…
Mrs Beany: Don’t waste your time buttering me up, Johnny. I’m not raising your salary anytime soon.
- The director was always ready to butter up Angelina Jolie. He knew she was looking for her next role and he wanted her in his movie.
Feifei: Oh, look. It’s 6pm already. I’m very late. I might not be on time to meet my landlady and she’ll be angry with me. She’s a very busy woman.
Finn: Yeah, well, then you are in a jam!
Finn: In English, when you say someone ‘is in a jam’, you mean they are in a difficult situation – but that’s a different kind of jam!
Feifei: All these expressions about food!
Finn: I know. We have a huge appetite for food expressions. But let’s leave some for another day. Bye!
The English We Speak – Butter up Transcript Video
The English We Speak
- The English We Speak – Treading on eggshells
- 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
More from the BBC
- L1: BBC How to … with transcript videos
- L1: BBC Drama – The Race with transcript videos
- L1: BBC The Flatmates
- L1: BBC 6 Minute Vocabulary with transcript videos
- L1: BBC English at Work with transcript videos
- L1: BBC Drama – Frankenstein with transcript videos
- L3: BBC The Reading Group
- L1: BBC Face Up to Phrasals with transcript videos
- L3: BBC Better Speaking
- L1: BBC The English We Speak with transcript videos
- L1: extr@ English with subtitles
- L2: Study English – IELTS Preparation
- L2: The Secret Garden AudioBook
- L1: Living English Video Series
- L3: The Business of English Video Series
- L2: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn Easy AudioBook
- L3: CNN Student News with transcript
- L2: My Australia
- L2: A.A. Milne – Winnie the Pooh AudioBook
- L3: Pride and Prejudice AudioBook
Source: BBC Learning EnglishMore Series for You: