Poverty and Inequality

Poverty and Inequality


Friends discuss poverty in America. The Grammar focus is on Comparatives.

Nakisha: “I’m too poor for this apartment.”
Saidi: “This apartment is nothing special.”
Nakisha: “Maybe not, but I can’t afford it.”
Saidi: “It’s not even a one-bedroom. It’s just a studio.”
Nakisha: “If I lived here, my rent would be half my salary. I would have nothing left at the end of the month.”
Saidi: “You and ten million other Americans.”
Nakisha: “Things are getting worse, not better.
Saidi: “The situation is going to the dogs, frankly.”


Going to the dogs means going to ruin, degenerating. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: Comparatives

“Things are getting worse, not better.” Here we have the irregular comparatives of two adjectives, “good” and “bad.” Absolute-comparative-superlative are “good-better-best” and “bad-worse-worst.”


New Idioms are “Ever since” and “Fired up.” The Grammar focus is on a Noun Phrase positioned after a Copula (to be).

Wanda: “Have you seen the protests going on in Iran?”
Addie: “Yes, ever since Mahsa Amini died after being arrested by the morality police.”
Wanda: “For not wearing her headscarf?”
Addie: “She was 22. Some of her hair was visible under the hijab.”
Wanda: “But these protests aren’t new, are they?”
Addie: “I think there is extreme poverty in large parts of the country.”
Wanda: “So Amini’s death fired them up even further?”
Addie: “Absolutely. Much of the Internet was shut down. It is mostly women who are protesting against the hard-line Islamist government. You see women cutting their hair off and burning their headscarves in front of cheering crowds. But many men are joining them in the protests.”
Wanda: “That’s different, surely. I read that 90% of the labor force are living below the poverty line and struggle even to survive. But women, of course, are worse off than anybody else. They are fed up with inequalities, especially the younger generation.”
Wanda: “A million students graduate from college with advanced degrees every year and cannot even find a job.”
Addie: “It’s a hornet’s nest.”


Ever since means continuously since the time mentioned. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Fired up means feeling very excited or passionate about something. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Cut off means to remove something from something else by cutting. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Poverty line means a level of personal or family income below which one is classified as poor according to governmental standards. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Fed up means annoyed, discontented, out of patience. See online Idioms Dictionary.
Hornet’s nest means a dangerous, complicated situation. See online Idioms Dictionary.

Suggested Topic for Comments: The Copula “To Be” and Noun Phrases

The structure is Subject-Verb-Noun Phrase. We have the Subject “It,” the Verb (Copula) “to be,” and finally the Noun Phrase “a hornet’s nest.” Note that in English the Copula can also be followed by Adjectival and Adverbial Phrases.

The Noun Phrase “a hornet’s nest” consists of a determiner, adjectival and noun, which if broken down further to “a nest of a hornet” is seen to be determiner (“a”), noun (“nest”) and prepositional phrase (“of a hornet”).

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