BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Like water off a duck’s back: means that criticisms or negative things have no effect on you – they’re just like water off a duck’s back – we don’t let them upset or affect us.
Feifei is upset because her mother-in-law is always criticising her. She goes to the park with Finn, who gives her some good advice. Listen to the programme to find out what this is.
(Feifei and Finn are in the park feeding the ducks.)
It’s so nice to be here in the park, Finn.
Yes, it is Feifei. I love coming here and feeding the ducks.
Being here helps take my mind off things. I had a fight with my mother-in-law yesterday.
What was it about?
Well, she is always criticising everything I do. Last night it was my cooking!
Well, don’t take too much notice of it, Feifei. My mother-in-law is the same. But it’s just like water off a duck’s back to me.
A duck’s back?!
Yes, in English the phrase ‘water off a duck’s back’ means that criticisms or negative things have no effect on you – they’re just like water off a duck’s back – we don’t let them upset or affect us.
What an unusual expression!
Yes, it is but, you know, it makes sense. Look at those ducks in the water…
Ah, I get it! They have oily feathers and water can’t get through them – it doesn’t affect them – so I shouldn’t let the criticism affect me and make me upset.
That’s right. And the phrase ‘water off a duck’s back’ is what we’re teaching today in The English We Speak. Now, let’s listen to some examples of how it’s used.
I won’t give up on my singing career just because someone said I’m no good. Criticism is water off a duck’s back to me!
I told John not to drive so fast but it was like water off a duck’s back. Last week he crashed his new car. Thankfully nobody was hurt.
Feifei, which dish was it that you cooked that your mother-in-law didn’t like? I’m making dinner tonight and I need a recipe…
Well, this is probably not the place to mention it…
Oh, I’m intrigued. Can’t you tell me?
I cooked Peking Duck. You’ll need pancakes, spring onions, a nice juicy roast duck…
Oh, the ducks are not happy!
I don’t think they like my recipe at all. Let’s go Finn. I can give you a good chicken recipe instead.
I’d like that. My mother-in-law is coming for dinner too. Bye.
The English We Speak – Like water off a duck’s back Transcript Video
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