Pencil and Pen

Pencil and Pen

pencil and pen

New Idioms are “Peace offering” and “Swear on my mother’s grave.” The English Grammar focus is on the Ambient “It.

Jean: “I have to buy my wife some makeup and whatnot.”
Kris: “Is it her birthday?”
Jean: “No, I just have to get her something. Kind of a peace offering.”
Kris: “I see.”
Jean: “That is my dilemma. What do you think?”
Kris: “Okay, you need foundation.”
Jean: “Foundation, okay. Anything else?”
Kris: “The idea of men buying this is kind of a har-de-har.”
Jean: “I know, just tell me.”
Kris: “Waterproof eyeliner. That’s all I know, I swear on my mother’s grave.”


Whatnot means along with other things of a similar kind. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Peace offering is a present that you give to somebody to show that you are sorry for something or want to make peace after an argument. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Hardy har or har-de-har means a sarcastic or unenthusiastic impression of a laugh. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Swear on my mother’s grave means to make a very serious, solemn pledge, especially that one is telling the truth. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Ambient “It”

“Is it her birthday?” I refer to the nonreferential “It,” along with Chafe (1970) and Bolinger (1977), as “ambient.” The ambient “It” derives its meaning from the rest of the sentence, which makes it clear what is being discussed. Here are some typical examples:

“It is sunny.”
“It is Saturday.”
“It is two miles to the city limits.”

The question form of this simplistic form of the nonreferential ambient “it” is achieved through inversion. Therefore the statement “It is her birthday” becomes “Is it her birthday?”


Friends discuss makeup with pencil and pen. The English Grammar focuses on Phrasal Verbs.

Brenda: “Getting ready for the big event?”
Jocelyn: “Trying to. Tried using a plum blush but to no avail. I don’t think my skin is dark enough.”
Brenda: “And you tried pink but you don’t like it.”
Jocelyn: “It’s just not right.”
Brenda: “Try peach. Start up near your ears and go along your cheekbones.”
Jocelyn: “Damn it, why didn’t I think of that?”
Brenda: “What else is running you down?”
Jocelyn: “Eyeliner. I always screw it up and end up looking like a raccoon.”
Brenda: “What are you using?”
Jocelyn: “Pencil, but I have liquid and it won’t cooperate yet.”
Brenda: “You’ll get there. You can use a pen too, you know.”
Jocelyn: “Ya, with my tough luck that will turn out as bad as the brush.”
Brenda: “Don’t think that way, you’ll just psych yourself out.”
Jocelyn: “That’s exactly what I do and I’m about to give up.”
Brenda: “You and a million other women. We all go through this.”
Jocelyn: “Guys don’t have this problem.”
Brenda: “Guys catch a break in lots of ways.”


Messed up means not functioning or operating properly; damaged or injured. See online Idioms Dictionary.
To no avail means ineffective, unsuccessful. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Run down means to make someone tired or worn, to lose vigor. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Screw it up means mishandle something, ruin it, make a mess of it. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Psych out means to psychologically intimidate with the result of undermining performance or confidence. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Give up means to surrender, admit defeat. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Go through means to endure something unpleasant or difficult. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Catch a break means to receive special treatment, receive a lucky opportunity. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Phrasal Verbs

If the direct object of a phrasal verb is a pronoun, it is put between the verb and its particle. That is why we have: Don’t think that way, you’ll just psych yourself out. Incorrect would be: *Don’t think that way, you’ll just psych out yourself. However, it would be correct to say “The makeup problem psyched out the girl” because the object of the phrasal verb is a noun phrase, not a pronoun.

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