August 04, 2015 17:53 UTC

Words and Their Stories

Number One

Number One
Number One
Number One
Number Onei
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X

Now, the VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories.


Today I will tell about expressions using numbers. Let us start with the number one. Numbers can be tricky. On the one hand, they are simply numbers. On the other hand, they have meanings. "I for one" use these expressions a lot.

Many people consider themselves number one -- the most important person. They are always "looking out for number one" and "taking care of number one." It is as if they are "the one and only" person on Earth. Some people however, are not so self-centered. My brother is such a person. It is true -- no joke. I am not trying to "pull a fast one" on you.

First, you have to understand that my brother is "one in a million." He is such a nice person. All his friends like him. They consider him "one of the boys." Recently, my brother had a bad day at the office. It was just "one of those days." Nothing went right. So he stopped at a local bar -- a drinking place -- after leaving work. My brother planned to have a glass of beer with his friends -- "a quick one" -- before he went home. But a quick one turned into one or two, and soon those became "one too many."

As my brother was leaving, he ordered a last drink -- "one for the road." His friends became concerned. "One by one," they asked him if he was able to drive home safely. Now, my brother is a wise and calm person. He is "at one with himself." He recognizes when he has had too much alcohol to drink. So he accepted an offer for a ride home from a female friend.

At one time in the past, my brother had been in love with this woman. She is a great person -- kind, thoughtful and intelligent -- all good qualities "rolled up into one." But sadly their relationship did not work. He always used to say "One of these days, I am going to marry this girl." But that never happened.

"For one thing," she did not love him as much as he loved her. It was just "one of those things." The situation was regrettable and my brother had to accept it. But even now, he considers her "the one that got away."

However, they are still friends. And because my brother had been kind to her, she felt that "one good turn deserves another." He was good to her and she wanted to help him in return. So she drove him home.

If my brother had driven home from the bar that night, his "number would have been up" -- something bad would have happened. Thankfully he made it home safely. And, he and the woman are "back to square one" -- they are back to where they started, being friends.

This VOA Special English program Words and Their Stories was written by Jill Moss.

I’m Faith Lapidus.

 
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
    Next 
by: Takis Hadjipieras from: Cyprus
06/11/2014 4:11 PM
I love to read this text not only ONE time, but more and more!


by: Dil from: Seoul
06/10/2014 11:41 PM
What is the song played at the end?


by: Blaise from: Poland
06/10/2014 9:06 AM
This article is really great! Thanks!


by: Yuanyuan from: CHINA
06/09/2014 5:32 PM
I have kept my eyes on Voa sice 3 years ago, and I really seized a lot from this program. Looking foward more. Thanks!


by: Nobue from: Japan
06/09/2014 3:10 PM
There are many expressions with ONE. I know "number one" has the same meaning in Japanese as the one in English while I didn't know "back to square one", completely. The story using ONE expressions is humorous so that they are kept in mind easily. I love it!


by: Anthony from: FRANCE
06/09/2014 10:13 AM
Since a few days, every day I listen a podcast, after I do a summary in the oral... then I read the text, and I choose a words I don't know to learn it! And to finish, I write a comment in this section like now. Usually, I understand very well the text, but for this time, the text is a little more difficult! No problem, it is better for learn :)

In Response

by: Jorge from: Argentina
06/11/2014 10:44 PM
It seems to be a good way to improve the learning. I didn't write a comment before. (I hope to be writing in english...) I'm used to listen podcasts when I go to work and in the way back home. At the begining I didn't understand anything, but now I can understand the general idea. I'm also using a software called anki, in order to make some words lists and then I study them by heart. Now I'm needing a place where I could practice speak in english.


by: ze marotta from: Brazil
06/08/2014 11:19 PM
Brazil is number one at soccer.
Welcome to Brazil , World Cup FIFA 2014.
We are prepareted ........


by: Heba from: usa
06/08/2014 8:21 PM
Great , I love it.


by: Dedimanullang from: Indonesia
06/08/2014 6:36 PM
Thank you so much for VOA Learning English . I think this Is a good Link to explore and Improve English as a second language for foreigner learners . I have been teaching English for 6 years when I saw this link VOA it really helpful to improve my Spoken English .

In Response

by: sara from: dubai
06/11/2014 8:36 PM
thank you very much,but please let me know how can I find the mean of idiom ؟?sometimes I dont understand them.

In Response

by: Moderator
06/13/2014 1:10 PM
Hello sara,
We will soon have a new series on American Idioms and Expressions.


by: Dedimanullang from: Indonesia
06/08/2014 6:36 PM
Thank you so much for VOA Learning English . I think this Is a good Link to explore and Improve English as a second language for foreigner learners . I have been teaching English for 6 years when I saw this link VOA it really helpful to improve my Spoken English .

Comments page of 2
    Next 

Learn with The News

  • Audio Digital Solution Helps Shield Online Activists

    The National Democratic Institute, a non-profit group, says a “live” operating system calls “Tails” is helping pro-democracy activists and others hide their online communications and activities from hostile governments. “Tails” is an acronym for The Amnesic Incognito Live System. More

  • Video Yazidis of Sinjar Observe Tragic Anniversary

    Islamic State militants attacked Iraq's Yazidi community one year ago. Thousands were killed or forced to flee their homes. Many others starved or died of thirst as they hid on Sinjar Mountain. Those who were rescued are haunted by the memories of the slaughter and loss of their homelands. More

  • Audio Islamic State’s Media Violence May Hurt the Group

    The group calling itself the Islamic State uses videos to publicize its activities. Some of its horrible acts have turned into big news stories. Some observers blame television stations and newspapers for publicizing the violence. Others say the bloody videos are starting to ruin the group’s image. More

  • Audio ASEAN Ministers Expected to Discuss South China Sea

    Early versions of working documents received by VOA and Reuters news agency suggest ministers are working toward a “Declaration of Conduct.” In time, such a document would lead to a “Code of Conduct” outlining measures to avoid conflict in the South China Sea. More

  • Audio Kerry Hears Concerns About Iran Nuclear Agreement

    Also, economic concerns in Greece, China weigh on share prices; Emergency declared in four areas of Myanmar; President Obama releases rules to cut carbon; and, Malaysian official says plane part from same kind of aircraft as MH370. | In the News More

Featured Stories

  • Audio Let’s Go on a Space Trip!

    You do not need to spend $50 million on a ticket to the moon. Just close your eyes and come with us to a trip into outer space! Learn idioms that will help you navigate the world of space. More

  • Audio Everyday Grammar: May, Might, and Must

    May, Might and Must are modal verbs that cause confusion for some learners. The Everyday Grammar team is on the job, explaining how to use these modals to express how certain, or sure, you are of something. You can also use one of them to tell about your wishes for the future. More

  • Video Feathertop by Nathaniel Hawthorne

    This classic American story features a scarecrow that comes to life. Find out what adventures he has as he looks for love and admiration. His only problem is that he has to keep puffing on the pipe the witch gave him. If he stops - something terrible may happen! More

  • Audio Study Shows How Poverty Could Limit Learning

    Studies have shown that children from poor families have more difficulty in school than other boys and girls. Children with higher socioeconomic roots seem better prepared and perform better on school tests. Now, American researchers may have found a biological reason for that difference. More

  • Audio Study: Smoking May Increase Risk of Schizophrenia

    Researchers reviewed 61 studies from around the world; they discovered cigarette smoking is three times more common among those with schizophrenia who were receiving medical care for the illness for the first time compared to people who did not have the mental disorder. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner
Confessions of an English Learner blog

Tell us About Our Programs