BBC Learning English: The English We Speak – Work for peanuts: To work for peanuts is an expression in English that means to work for a very small payment.
Li: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak, I’m Li. And here with me is Neil. Hi Neil!
Neil: Hi Li! But before we start the programme I’ve got some good news for you. I’ve just fixed your bike tyres as I promised! It wasn’t easy to find the punctures on them but I managed to do it and the bike, I have to say, is as good as new!
Li: Oh, great! I am so happy, Neil! You know, I use the bicycle every day. I ride it when I come to work and when I go home. You know, I took it to the mechanic last week to have it fixed and he didn’t do it properly. Thank you! You are a star!
Neil: It wasn’t easy but I am glad to have been of service. Well, you told me that you’d pay me for the work so now would be a good time to do that because actually I am a bit short of cash at the moment, you know.
Li: Oh, you want to receive some payment? Yes, I remember that I promised you’d get paid. That’s fair. Okay. Here you are!
Neil: What are these?
Li: Your payment, Neil.
Li: Yes, Neil. You keep saying that there are people who work for peanuts!
Neil: Yes I have said that on occasions but it’s got nothing to do with food! To work for peanuts is an expression in English that means to work for a very small payment.
Li: Now you tell me, Neil! So people are not really paid in peanuts, are they?
Neil: No, they are not! Just think. A peanut is something small and cheap.
Woman 1: My cousin is a catwalk model and she travels all over the world!
Woman 2: She must be a millionaire!
Woman 1: Yes, she is! But before she become famous she used to work for peanuts! She could hardly buy a lipstick.
Man: I am going to ask for a pay rise. I am tired of working for peanuts!
Li: Oh, I am sorry, Neil, when you said that some people work for peanuts I thought you wanted to be paid in peanuts!
Neil: That’s alright Li. But now that you know that I don’t work for peanuts will you give me some money?
Li: Yes, of course I will. I left my wallet in my drawer in the office but as soon as we finish this programme I’ll pay you with cash. So give me back my peanuts then.
Neil: (sound of chewing)
Li: Neil, the peanuts! I am hungry!
Neil: I am hungry too and these peanuts taste great!
Li: I know they do. You know, I bought them in the new grocery shop around the corner.
Neil: Don’t worry, Li. As soon as you pay me we can go down there and I’ll buy you some of these delicious peanuts myself.
Li: Okay. I don’t work for peanuts either but I am glad to eat some. Let’s go then.
Neil: (sound of monkey) I want more peanuts! (sound of monkey)
Li: So do I, Neil, but why are you making this odd noise? You sound like a monkey!
Neil: Well, you know what they say: if you pay peanuts you get monkeys.
Li: Okay, I got the message. Let’s go. Bye!
Neil: (monkey noises)
The English We Speak – Work for peanuts (Transcript Video)
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