132.- Advanced expressions with on

1. On The Off Chance

Meaning: when we use this expression, we’re not quite certain that something might be possible or somebody might be able to help us

For example, you go into a shop, you’re searching for perhaps a particular notebook, you haven’t seen it anywhere in the city, but you see this little stationery shop at the end of the street. So you run in and you say to the shopkeeper,

On the off chance, would you happen to have this type of notebook?

Yeah, hold on, I think I’ve got one in stock.

Or you could ask a colleague,

On the off chance, will you be driving my way? Could you give me a lift home?

Yeah, sure. I pass by your house quite regularly. 

So again, we asked somebody to help us on the off chance that they might be able to, there was a possibility that they might not.

But then, of course, as there are two sides to every coin, there was the chance that they would be able to help you.




2. On Second Thought(S)

Meaning: there must have been the first thought. Then you think about something and decide that maybe you acted a little bit hastily, and you change your opinion or decision.

We are meeting for a beer, would you like to come?

That sounds like a great idea… On second thoughts, I think I’d better stay in tonight. I’ve got a really big presentation tomorrow, I don’t want to mess it up.


So it changed from the first thought. Either positive to negative or negative to positive.

I’d love those diamond earrings for Christmas. The ones that I was showing you in the shop that day. Remember? Actually, on second thought, I think I would prefer a new mobile phone. 



3. On A Whim

Meaning: when we do something on a whim, we do it without really thinking. It’s just something that suddenly comes into our minds. We don’t really plan it. We just do it.

I’m sitting by a pool in Turkey enjoying some winter sunshine. I just came here on a whim, I wanted to get away.



4. On A Budget

Meaning: when you’re on a budget, you have a restricted amount of funds that you can spend over a period of time

We can also add lots of different adjectives here:

  • on a tight budget
  • on a small budget
  • on a very small budget

We might travel around Europe or somewhere around the world. However, we will be travelling on a budget and staying in hostels. 

We are restricted as to how much money we can spend.

It was one of the best holidays I have ever had. We drove around France on a budget.



5. On Principle

Meaning: when we do something on principle, we stand up for what we believe is right

It was a terrible meal, I complained to the manager. They didn’t give me a discount, I have to pay the full price. So now, on principle, I am never going to set foot in that restaurant again.

On principle, I wouldn’t work for him because he’s a male chauvinistic pig.



6. On One’s Own

Meaning: be or do something by yourself

We travel on our own.

We set up home on our own when we leave the family nest.

We go and we get our first apartment or our first home, but we are on our own.

If you decide to make a stand on this issue of principles, you might be on your own because nobody is going to support you.



7. On Target

Meaning: in the right direction to achieve those goals that you (or someone else) have set

It’s looking good. We’re on target. We’re going to get that bonus as coming close to the end of the year.

The company is on target to make a good profit by the end of the year.

The government is on target to reduce the budget deficit.



8. On Duty

Meaning: at work, engaged in an assigned task or occupation. People who are usually on duty would be people like police officers, doctors, nurses.

Who’s on duty tonight?

I’m supposed to go on duty at 6 am.



9. On Purpose

Meaning: deliberately

Michael hit me. He hit me on purpose. He picked up that stone and he threw it at me.



10. On (The) Condition That

Meaning: when you use this expression when we want to make something conditional

I will agree to sign this contract on the condition that you give me a payment of 10,000 Euro.

I will allow you to go to the party on condition that you come home before midnight.

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