In this The English We Speak podcast: Rob takes Li fishing but says he’s not that good at it. Does he really mean it or is he ‘fishing for compliments’? Find out what they end up catching.
Li: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak, I’m Li and with me today is Rob.
Rob: Shhh Feifei, I think I’ve nearly caught one.
Li: Caught what?
Rob: A fish! That’s why we’re fishing – to catch a fish.
Li: Ah yes.
Rob: I did say I would teach you the art of fishing – how to cast off and how to reel in a massive fish.
Li: Is Rob really good at fishing?
Rob: Yes, I’ve been doing it for years… I once caught a massive shark… it was THIS big… but I’m not that good at it. I just do it for fun really, I’m not competitive or anything like that!
Li: Of course you’re not! The only thing Rob is fishing for today is compliments. Rob, are you hoping to catch some compliments today?
Rob: How big are they exactly?
Li: No. Compliments! When people say you are ‘fishing for compliments’ it means you try to make people say good things about you. You pretend to be modest about something and hope they disagree and give you praise. So Rob, you want me to say something good about your fishing?
Rob: No… not really… well, just one compliment maybe?
Li: Hmmm, I’ll have a think while we listen to some examples of this phrase:
- Jean was fishing for compliments about her outfit when she pretended she only took five minutes to get ready!
- John kept saying he couldn’t run very fast but he still won the race; I think he was just fishing for compliments.
- Fred: Oh I can only speak a few words of French. I’m no good at languages.
- Jane: Oh stop fishing for compliments Fred – we know you can speak five languages!
Li: So fishing for compliments is about trying to get someone to say something good about you. Well Rob, I am impressed with your fishing skills – look, you’ve actually caught something!
Rob: Oh yes – quick let’s pull it in.
Li: Oh Rob, it’s just an old shoe. Perhaps you were right, you’re not very good at fishing – but that’s ok, I’m not much good either, all I’ve managed to catch today is this 50 kilogram salmon – what do you think?
Rob: (genuinely impressed) Wow – for a first time, that is amazing. I think that deserves a compliment…
Li: Go on then Rob…
Rob: I was going to say the eyes on that fish look just like yours!
Li: Hmm, that wasn’t the compliment I was fishing for. In you go…
Li: … fish for your own compliments.
The English We Speak – Fishing for compliments Transcript Video
Source: BBC Learning EnglishMore Series for You: