Professor Eagle’s Lesson # 3


High everyone.  Yes, I know this isn't the usual way of spelling this informal form of “hello,” but that’s where I prefer to be.  I suspect your motivation for visiting this page has less to do with an interest in bird behavior, though, than a desire to improve your English so let’s not tarry.  Here’s the next lesson in the series I’m offering this summer.  We’ll begin by talking about a subject that means much more to you than to me—money!


Here are 7 expressions about money. Most of them are negative, which shows you how suspicious many people are about doing business!

1.   LOSE YOUR SHIRT (verb) - to lose a lot of money in a bet or investment. "I lost my shirt in a business deal and now I haven’t any money."

2.   PEANUTS (noun) - very little money.  “My sister works for peanuts."  “Really?  Is she an elephant or a teacher?”

3.   RIP-OFF (verb) - to cheat someone. "They ripped me off at the market when they sold me that sour milk."  (noun) That store is a rip-off (i.e., it’s far too expensive).

4.   SCAM (noun) - A program to cheat people of their money. "You shouldn’t hope to make big money fast.  If someone promises you that, it's probably a scam."

5.   SHORT CHANGE (verb) - when someone gives you less change than they should. "That cashier at the supermarket short changed me."

6.   SUCKER (noun) - someone who is not smart, gullible, or who is easy to cheat. "Con-men are always on the lookout for a sucker."

7.   TALK SOMEONE DOWN (verb) = to bargain with a salesperson until s/he lowers the price. "It took a while, but I talked them down to 150 Euros on that TV."


Can you use the above terms correctly in the sentences below?

1.   This sightseeing tour only covers 30 kilometers and it costs 70 Euros for just one day. I expected it to cost much less than that.  Seventy Euros is far too expensive. This is a ______________.

2.   I might try once in a while to ___________________ on a price but overall, I don’t like to have to bargain.

3.   It’s important to calculate very carefully the cost of all the extra features you want when you buy a new car.  If you don’t you might ______________ when you buy it.
4.   Have we become so desperate that we are willing to work for _____________ doing jobs we are overqualified for?   Maybe so. Some people should be thankful just to have a job.

5.   They all promise to make you rich overnight. Don't believe them or you might be _____________.

6.   A person has to be a _______________ to buy lottery tickets.  It’s very unlikely that you will win more money playing the lottery than you will lose. 



In the USA there are lots of advice columns in newspapers where readers submit questions such as:  “My boyfriend thinks I should grow my hair long, but I like it short. He is always looking at girls with long hair. What should I do?"

Instead of presenting to you the answer to this question or to others, I’d like to request your advice about an experience I recently had.  A few nights ago I went to a shop to buy some food.  The total was 38 Euros.  I gave the clerk 50 Euros.  She gave me back 3 Euros in coins and a 50 Euro note.  I suspect that she thought she was giving me only a 10 Euro note.

When I saw her mistake, I told her that she was giving me too much change.  She didn't say anything.  She just took back the 50 Euro note and gave me a 10.

One nice thing about doing the right thing is knowing that you did the right thing. Another nice thing is when you get recognition for doing the right thing.  But this scenario has happened to me three or four times and the sales people have never said thank you.  It makes me think that they believe I’m an idiot for being honest.

Or do they behave that way because they are embarrassed about making a mistake?  I would like to know your opinion about this.  Please write to me and give me your advice about why sales people behave this way and about what I should do if this happens again.  Should I say nothing and keep the extra money or should I return the money?




1.        rip-off

2.        talk someone down

3.        lose your shirt

4.        peanuts

5.        scammed

6.        sucker


My earlier lessons can be found under the Teacher Resources tab at the top of this site.  If you haven't seen them already, I hope you'll take a minute or two to look at them.





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