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Just Breathe

Hello and welcome to VOA Learning English’s Words and Their Stories!

Every week, we bring you some common words, expressions and idioms used in the United States.

Today we are going to breathe. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathing keeps us alive. Deep breathing can lower our blood pressure and calm an over-active mind.

Today, we visit the seaside as we explore many expressions that have to do with breathing. Two friends are taking a much needed break from work. We join them as they sit on the beach, burying their feet deep in the sand.

This morning they are taking scuba lessons. They breathe in the cleansing ocean air. And they breathe out the frustrations of the work they left behind.

Let’s listen.

"This is the life! I am so glad we took this vacation."

"Me, too. Sitting here listening to the ocean and the seagulls, I can finally breathe easy."

"No work for the next 14 days! That’s breathing easy!"

"Work was killing me. Right up until I left for the airport, my boss was there … breathing down my neck the whole time. ‘Yes, boss, I finished the report. Yes, I contacted the client. Yes, I submitted the proposal.’ Advertising is such a non-stop industry."

"Bosses need to know that it doesn’t help to breathe down someone’s neck. People need a little breathing room to get things done."

"That is the truth. Well, I am breathing a sigh of relief to finally be away from work. Hey, how are things with your job?"

"It’s better. Several months ago, I was so busy working on a political campaign that I hardly had time to breathe."

"I know! I didn’t see you for months during that campaign. I wondered when you were going to come up for air."

"And working with politicians … that can be challenging. They start to breathe their own fumes."

"In what ways are they breathing their own fumes?"

"They believe what the public and media say about them. They won’t listen to anybody and they think they know best."

"I don’t have to deal with that type at my office. But one colleague of mine is really getting on my nerves. She sucks all the air out of the room. She’s loud, talks all the time, and always has to be the center of attention."

"I also worked with a guy who sucked the air out of a room, too. But he left. The person who replaced him is pleasant and has many new ideas -- a real breath of fresh air."

"That’s great. You know, talking about fresh air, how about this ocean air? So much better than a polluted city. I could stay here forever."

"Wouldn’t it be nice if we could win the lottery? That way we could just stay here on the beach and not worry about making money."

"I wouldn’t hold your breath for that to happen. The odds of winning the lottery are not in your favor. But it sounds like you need to breathe a little life into your career. Maybe it’s time to look for another job."

"Well, in fact, I have a lead on a great job. But I won’t know until next month. So, don’t breathe a word to anyone about it."

"I promise. My lips are sealed. But, really, would you listen to us? We want to get away from work and here we are talking about it."

"Ha, you’re right. It’s time to put work talk aside. Here comes our scuba instructor. Speaking of breathing and coming up for air, let’s not forget to do that during our scuba lesson, literally."

And that’s it for this Words and Their Stories. Let us know what you think of the program or practice using these expressions on our website, at

I’m Anna Matteo.

"Sometimes, all I need is the air that I breathe

And to love you.

All I need is the air that I breathe,

Yes to love you,

All I need is the air that I breathe..."

Anna Matteo wrote this program for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor and joined her “on the beach.” The song at the end of the program is “The Air That I Breathe,” by the Hollies.

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