In this The English We Speak podcast: Vera watches Dominic drawing and learning how to write. Rob is busy watching football and suddenly says “the writing is on the wall now”. Vera is very surprised and tells Dominic off. Does he make Vera’s brand new wall dirty?
Rob: No! No! Don’t pass the ball to him!
Vera: Rob is so loud! That’s a lovely drawing, Dominic!
Dominic: Thank you, mummy! This is a balloon and the letter B! And this is…
Vera: And this is a boat, isn’t it?
Dominic: No! This is a ball, to play football! Can’t you see?!
Vera: Hi. I am Vera and this is Dominic.
Dominic: … and I am five! I’m a big boy now!
Vera: And Rob is over there, watching TV, supporting his team.
Rob: Arrrrghhhh! They’re going to lose!
Vera: And Dominic is learning to write…
Rob: Oh nooooo! They’ve lost another goal! The writing is on the wall now!
Vera: Oh, no, writing on the wall? My nice and clean wall?! Dominic, have you written on the wall? Naughty boy!
Rob: No, no, no – there’s nothing written on your wall, Vera! In English, we use the expression ‘the writing is on the wall’ when we want to say that something bad is going to happen to something or someone and there isn’t much you can do about it. Like my football team. If it loses this match it is out of the championship.
Vera: So there is nothing written on the beautiful, clean walls of my brand new apartment?
Rob: No. Here are some examples of how you can use this expression.
- My auntie is really sad because she had to close her shop. To be honest, the writing has been on the wall for her business for a long time.
- You know Mary. She’s a party girl that loves the city but I heard her husband is shy and has always wanted to live on a farm. The writing is definitely on the wall for their marriage.
- I haven’t studied hard this year and I have been doing badly in exams. My teachers told me if I don’t try harder the writing is on the wall.
Vera: So that’s what this expression is used for: to indicate that something will end up badly. Well, at least my walls are ok. They are nice and clean! Dominic is still a good boy!
Rob: Gooooooal! Finally!
Rob: Oh, sorry Vera. Your walls are free of writing but your carpet is flooded with wine. Sorry. I’ve just knocked my glass on the floor by accident and there is a big stain…
Vera: Oh Rob is the bad boy now! My beautiful carpet!
Rob: Red wine, white carpet… The writing was on the wall for this one. Sorry. And bye…
Vera: Bye Rob. Bye carpet.
Dominic: Carpet!? I want to write on the carpet!
The English We Speak – The writing is on the wall Transcript Video
Source: BBC Learning EnglishMore Series for You: