BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Smell a rat: In English, when we say we ‘smell a rat’ we mean we’re suspicious of someone: we feel there’s something wrong.
Li’s been told she’s a lottery winner. She thinks she is a millionaire! But Neil has bad news for her. How will Li react? Listen to the programme to find out.
Li: Hi Neil. How are you today?
Neil: Hello Li. I’m a bit worried. All these bills to pay… there’ll be no money left for my holiday.
Li: My problems are over and so are yours, Neil! I’ll pay all my bills, and yours, and… where do you want to go for a holiday? How about Dubai? Five star hotel, by the beach, drinking champagne…
Neil: Well, it’s very generous of you, Li, but where are you going to get the money for that?
Li: I won the lottery!
Neil: The lottery?! That’s brilliant! How much?
Li: Yes. I won US$10m! It’s a lot of money, Neil! They sent me an email this morning.
Neil: An email?
Li: Yes. The only thing that the organisers are asking is for me to pay them a small fee and give them the details of my bank account so that they can transfer the money. I’m a millionaire!
Neil: Mmmm… I smell a rat!
Li: A rat?! Where?! I am terrified of rats! Where is it? I can’t see a rat!
(Li stands on her chair)
Neil: No, no, no! No need to stand on the chair, Li. There’s no rat, no mouse, there’re no rodents at all here. In English, when we say we ‘smell a rat’ we mean we’re suspicious of someone: we feel there’s something wrong.
Li: So you think there is something wrong with this lottery?
Neil: Yes, I’m afraid so. Let’s hear some examples of how to use ‘smell a rat’, today’s expression in The English We Speak.
A: I read an article about a diet which makes you lose six kilos in one week. It says there is no need for exercise
B: Six kilos in one week?! That’s impossible! I smell a rat!
Jane smelt a rat when she read a job advert for actresses in the newspaper. It said “no training or experience required”, but they wanted someone “good-looking and open-minded”.
Li: Oh. No money for me then… but are you sure, Neil? Maybe this one is for real…?
Neil: No, it’s not, Li. And you shouldn’t send emails around with your bank details. It’s very dangerous. Someone might steal your money!
Li: Yes. I should be careful with my email.
Neil: Think: have you ever entered the Australian lottery? Did you buy a ticket?
Li: No. I’ve never even been to Australia.
Neil: So how could you be the winner? It’s a scam, Li. It’s a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people like you.
Li: You are right, Neil. I wanted to win the lottery so much!
Neil: So let’s go out and buy a proper lottery ticket. One we know is real!
Li: Maybe we will win.
Neil: Maybe we will! Let’s go. Bye.
The English We Speak – Smell a rat Transcript Video
The English We Speak
- The English We Speak – Treading on eggshells
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- 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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