BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Take it with a pinch of salt: In English, when we say ‘take it with a pinch of salt’, we mean don’t believe in it completely because it might not be true.
Helen takes Neil to a lovely cafe and asks him a favour. But does he prefer his tea with sugar or salt? Listen to the programme to find out.
Neil: Hello Helen. Thanks for inviting me here. It’s a lovely cafe, isn’t it?
Helen: Yes, it is, Neil. Actually, I wanted to ask you a favour. I know you play the piano and I’d like you to teach me.
Waitress: Here is your tea. Madam, sir…
Helen: Thank you. I’ll pour it.
Neil: I’d be happy to teach you the piano. Are you buying one?
Helen: No. Our colleague John is giving me one.
Neil: Giving you a piano?
Helen: Yes. He said he’s moving to Australia and will give me his piano. Sugar in your tea?
Neil: I’d take that with a pinch of salt!
Helen: Oh… OK.
Neil: What are you doing?!
Helen: You said you would take that with a pinch of salt, so I am putting some in your tea.
Neil: No, I didn’t mean put salt in my tea! I was talking about our colleague John. You need to take what John says with a pinch of salt.
Helen: I’m confused.
Neil: In English, when we say ‘take it with a pinch of salt’, we mean don’t believe in it completely because it might not be true.
Helen: Oh. So, John’s not going to give me his piano?
Neil: John’s always planning to move abroad and promising things. I’m still waiting for a sofa he promised me last year. He said he was going to Peru!
Helen: Oh, I see.
Neil: ‘With a pinch of salt’ is today’s expression in The English We Speak. Here are some examples of how it’s used.
- When my cousin says he has absolutely no money, you have to take that with a pinch of salt. He’s just mean.
- I take everything Mary says with a pinch of salt. She tends to exaggerate things.
Helen: Thank you for warning me, Neil. John is a good person but he can’t make up his mind.
Neil: That’s right. But if you ever want to learn to play the piano, I can teach you. I’m not very good at it but I can teach you what I know. And you don’t need to take that with a pinch of salt.
Helen: Oh, you’re such a sweetie!
Neil: A sweetie who likes his tea with sugar rather than salt.
Helen: I’m sorry about that!
The English We Speak – Take it with a pinch of salt Transcript Video
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