November 23, 2014 18:38 UTC

Words and Their Stories: Down to Earth

Read, listen and learn English with this story. Double-click on any word to find the definition in the Merriam-Webster Learner's Dictionary.

My friend Jane is so down to earthMy friend Jane is so down to earth
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My friend Jane is so down to earth
My friend Jane is so down to earth

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Now, the VOA Special English program WORDS AND THEIR STORIES.

Every week at this time, we tell about popular American words and expressions.  Some of these are very old.  Some are new.  Together, they form the living speech of the American people.

Today we tell about the expression "down to earth." Down to earth means being open and honest.  It is easy to deal with someone who is down to earth.

A person who is down to earth is a pleasure to find.  He or she accepts other people as equals.  A down to earth person is the opposite of someone who acts important or proud.

Down to earth people could be important members of society.  But they do not consider themselves to be better than others who are less important.  They do not let their importance "go to their heads." Someone who lets something go to his head feels he is better than others.  He has a "big head."

A person who is filled with his own importance and pride is said to have "his nose in the air." Often the person who has a big head and his nose in the air has no reason to feel better than others.  He surely is the opposite of someone who is down to earth.

Americans use another expression that is similar in some ways to down to earth.  The expression is "both feet on the ground." Some one with both feet on the ground is a person with a good understanding of reality.  She has what is called "common sense."  She may have dreams.  But she does not allow them to block her understanding of what is real.

The opposite kind of person is one who has his "head in the clouds." Someone with his head in the clouds is a person whose mind is not on what is happening in real life.  Such a person may be called a "daydreamer."

Sometimes a person with his head in the clouds can be brought back to reality.  Sharp words from a teacher, for example, can usually get a daydreaming student to put "both feet on the ground."

The person who is down to earth usually has both feet on the ground.  But the opposite is not always true.  Someone with both feet on the ground may not be as open and easy to deal with as someone who is down to earth.

When we have both our feet firmly on the ground, and when we are down to earth we do not have our noses in the air.  We act honestly and openly to others.  Our lives are like the ground below us – solid and strong.
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by: Epson Espinosa from: Panamà
11/24/2012 12:36 PM
No doubt, This is a really good way to learn English. I am having fun with these topics, Words and Theirs stories is great!


by: Jorge Antonio Morais from: Fortaleza, Ceara Brazil
11/19/2012 12:19 PM
Well, it remembers me when I begin my studies of English with the help of a simple short wave receiver, it has been improving throughout the years, and now specially with the latest achievements of Internet. I am happy to be an active part of this history.


by: Pham Thu Trang from: Vietnam
11/12/2012 8:23 AM
I read VOA every day and these practice has help me to improve my English skills. I love VOA


by: Yang from: Canad
11/08/2012 5:03 PM
These are very useful expressions.And also let me know what the difference is between "down to earth" and "both feet on the ground".


by: Jorge Trujillo from: Colombia
11/07/2012 9:15 PM
It is a very good site to practice English while learning more about
American expressions.


by: Juan Pablo from: Colombia
11/07/2012 11:13 AM
Nice song to learn english, thanks.


by: Shawn Wong from: China
11/07/2012 5:24 AM
I have just finished the dictation homework of this story. I just want to say the story touches me in a way that I can see myself better. I think it's a good guide when I am in the social activities.


by: Shige from: Japan
11/06/2012 2:34 AM
It is so interesting. I think English has so many words and expressions related to body like nose, head and so on.


by: Christine from: San Antonio
11/05/2012 6:31 PM
Here is another fun site to learn about popular American expressions Yes al Ingles on facebook.

Its a 100% online, English language learning program and on their facebook site they explain funny and popular American sayings.


by: Elinaldo O Almeida from: Goiania, Brazil
11/05/2012 5:37 PM
Dear Writer,
These clues have really worked for me.
I've read VOA almost every day and these practice has helped me to improve my English skills especially my listening.
For that reason I am here wrinting to thanking all of you that have done your best for us, english learners.

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