166.- Butter up. Profesor.


(Feifei and Finn bump into each other at the supermarket)

Finn: Hello Feifei. I didn’t know you shopped at this supermarket too.

Feifei: Hi Finn. Usually I don’t. But it’s close to the office and I have to rush home to welcome an important guest.

Finn: Who is it? Someone I know?

Feifei: No, it’s my landlady. She’s coming to collect some of her post and… well, I want to make her like me because next month, the contract on my flat is due to be renewed and she might want to increase the rent.

Finn: Yeah, I see what you mean. So you’d better butter her up then!

Feifei: Butter? Oh, yes. But I’m a pretty bad cook. If I baked a cake it would probably be horrible!

Finn: No. I don’t mean butter for a cake. In English, when you say you’ll ‘butter someone up’, you mean you’ll be especially nice to them in the hope they’ll do something good for you in return.

Feifei: Oh, I see. So I’ll be nice to her and pay her compliments so that she likes me and keeps the rent low. I’ll ‘butter her up’! But isn’t it a bit insincere?

Finn: Well, it can have a negative connotation, yes. Let’s hear some examples of how to use ‘to butter someone up’ or ‘to butter up someone’, which is today’s expression in The English We Speak.

  • Johnny: I was very impressed with your presentation, Mrs Beany. You are really intelligent and perceptive and…
    Mrs Beany: Don’t waste your time buttering me up, Johnny. I’m not raising your salary anytime soon.
  • The director was always ready to butter up Angelina Jolie. He knew she was looking for her next role and he wanted her in his movie.

Feifei: Oh, look. It’s 6pm already. I’m very late. I might not be on time to meet my landlady and she’ll be angry with me. She’s a very busy woman.

Finn: Yeah, well, then you are in a jam!

Feifei: Jam?!

Finn: In English, when you say someone ‘is in a jam’, you mean they are in a difficult situation – but that’s a different kind of jam!

Feifei: All these expressions about food!

Finn: I know. We have a huge appetite for food expressions. But let’s leave some for another day. Bye!

Feifei: Bye!


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