December 18, 2014 21:44 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

  • The MOM Incubator could save more babies in refugee camps who die due to complications of premature birth.

    Audio Low-Cost Incubator May Save More Babies

    Premature birth is the biggest killer of children worldwide. About one million babies around the world die of problems because they are born too early. Many of these babies could have been saved if they had been placed in an incubator. A young British researcher says he has found a solution. More

  • A screenshot from Cuban television shows President Raul Castro addressing the country, in Havana, Dec. 17, 2014.

    Audio US, Cuba Normalize Relations

    After the release of Alan Gross from prison, U.S. and Cuba announce policy changes that end more than 50 years of diplomatic isolation that began in the Cold War. Also in the news, India joins Pakistan in mourning after Tuesday's Taliban attack. And Sony Pictures cancels release of "The Interview." More

  • Audio How Much of You Does Facebook Own?

    If you use Facebook, your friends may have posted an update recently saying Facebook is not permitted to violate their privacy. But how much of your data -- things you post -- does Facebook legally own? Experts say Facebook's terms of service agreement clearly says they own most of what you post. More

  • India schoolgirls offer prayers for victims killed in a Taliban attack on a Pakistan military-run school, in Mumbai, India, Dec. 17, 2014.

    Audio India Joins Pakistan in Mourning Murdered Students

    India and Pakistan have long disagreed about many issues. But on Wednesday, Indian lawmakers and students lowered their heads and observed two minutes of silence in memory of 132 Pakistani children. The children died on Tuesday in an attack on their school in the city of Peshawar. More

  • Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) Secretary-General Sadakazu Tanigaki, center left, gestures next to Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, center right, as they pose during an election night event at the LDP headquarters in Tokyo, Dec. 14, 2014.

    Video Shinzo Abe's Victory Likely Raises Conflict with Neighbors

    Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in Parliament on Sunday. Mr. Abe’s win will permit him to continue economic reforms. At the same time, he can also pursue policies likely to increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors. More

Featured Stories

  • Video Music Shows in Private Homes Gain Popularity

    Attending a live musical performance, be it in a huge arena or a small cafe, is an exciting experience. But here in the U.S., a very different kind of performance is gaining popularity: house concerts. “There's just a totally unique experience as opposed to playing like a coffee shop or a bar." More

  • Lee Surrenders to Grant at Appomatox

    Audio Southern General Robert E. Lee Surrenders at Appomattox

    General Robert E. Lee’s military skill and intelligence helped extend the war between the states. But even his skill could not save the South from the industrial power of the North and its mighty armies -- armies that were better-fed and better-equipped. On Sunday, August 9, Lee surrendered. More

  • Uganda Playground for Disabled Children

    Audio Helping Uganda’s Disabled Children Play

    You may think that all children have freedom to play. But for children who look differently from others or have physical disabilities, the idea of play can seem far away. An organization in Uganda is seeking to change that. Read on to learn words needed to talk about this sometimes difficult topic. More

  • A microneedle used to inject glaucoma medications into the eye is shown next to a liquid drop from a conventional eye dropper. (Georgia Tech Photo: Gary Meek

    Audio Tiny Needles Treat Eye Disease

    Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness around the world. In the United States, more than two million people suffer from the disease. Now, researchers are developing very small needles that may offer a more effective and painless treatment for glaucoma and other eye diseases. More

  • The National Museum of Organized Crime and Law Enforcement in Las Vegas

    Audio Mob Museum Tells About the Mafia in America

    The U.S. government has long used public money to fight organized crime. Now, public money is also paying for a museum in Las Vegas to tell about "The Mob,” and not everyone is happy about that. But some say it helps the local economy by bringing people to a part of Las Vegas that few visit. More

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs