BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Take a back seat: means to choose not to take control, let someone else be in charge and take responsibility.
Hello, it’s Feifei and Rob here with today’s The English We Speak.
Feifei, keep your eyes on the road! Look where you’re going.
OK, OK! Rob is making me drive around while we present today’s programme. Rob, why exactly am I driving my car?
Well, I really wanted you to understand the phrase we’re going to learn today. But I’m going to leave it all to you.
So what are you going to do then?
Oh nothing. I’m just going to a take a back seat today. You carry on, I’ll just watch.
Take a back seat? Hmmm – so you’re going to let me take control – do all the work – while you sit there and watch?
Yes – look, I’m just sitting here – on the back seat
Oh I get it! ‘To take a back seat’ is an idiom that means to give up control and let someone else take responsibility.
That’s it Feifei. Let’s hear from some other people who are ‘taking a back seat’…
Mary was happy to take a back seat and let Jim run the meeting.
I’m going to take a back seat this year and let you decide where we go on holiday.
Now he’s getting older he’s decided to take a back seat in running the company.
So, to take a backseat means to choose not to take control and let someone else be in charge. Rob, does this mean you’re just being lazy?
Of course not, Feifei. It just means I’m letting you have a turn at being in charge – I trust you – although… What are you doing?!
Letting you take the back seat while I show you how to really drive!
Feifei! Watch out for that roundabout… and that traffic light… aren’t you driving a bit fast?
Rob – don’t be such a back seat driver!
A back seat driver – someone who offers unwanted advice – someone who tells the driver how to drive. But we’ll leave that expression for another day!
OK OK – but you are going really fast – can I take the front seat now?
Stay where you are!
The English We Speak – Take a back seat Transcript Video
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