Check the boxes

Lesson #
January 20, 2022

To “check the boxes” means to fulfill all the requirements of something.


Transcript

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Check the boxes

Today’s English expression is to “check the boxes.” This is a tough one to use, but it is fairly common. To check the boxes, or to check all the boxes, means to fulfill all the requirements of something.

I want you to picture a checklist of all a luxury car’s features. What’s on your checklist? Heated seats? Tesla has it. A good sound system? Tesla has that too. Personalized seat settings? Yup. Heated side mirrors to melt the snow and ice? It has that. Check. Cupholders? Check. Do you see what I mean? Think about all the requirements you would have for an expensive car, and a Tesla has them all. The Tesla checks all the boxes .

When you’re selecting something new, you have selection criteria. Then, you have a list of requirements for that new thing. My current laptop is about three years old, and it’s just fine; there’s only one thing that bothers me, and that’s the size of the hard drive, especially when I’m recording videos for Plain English Plus+.

The next time I have to get a new computer for Plain English, I’ll make sure it has a lot of extra storage. I’ll also want a fast processor and a lot of memory. Oh, and a reasonable price. Those are my criteria. So, if I find a computer that’s got a lot of storage, a fast processor, good amount of memory, and a reasonable price, then I could say that I found a computer that checks all the boxes. Is that the best computer in the world? No, but it fulfills my requirements.

However, someone else might want something different. Someone else might want a touch screen, a USB slot, and a full number pad on the keyboard. The computer that checks all the boxes for me might not check all the boxes for that other person.

There’s another way to use “check all the boxes.” For example, if you’re selecting something, you may have written objective criteria. But before you make the final decision, you also want to have a good feeling about something. So, when expressing reservations about something, we can say that something “checks all the boxes,” but you nevertheless don’t want it because you don’t have a good feeling about it.

Let’s start with cars because cars provoke an emotional response in most drivers. You can find a car that checks all the boxes but that you still don’t like. When I was looking for a car, I was considering a Volkswagen Golf and a Mazda 3. The VW checked all the boxes, but I just didn’t love it. Sometimes, when making a selection, you want something more than just objective criteria on a checklist. You want to feel good. So yes, the VW checked all the boxes. It met all the objective criteria. I couldn’t make a case against it. But it just didn’t give me the feeling I wanted, so I went with the Mazda.

When else might you make a selection in which how you feel is important? Hmmmmmmmmm. Oh, I know… finding a romantic partner! Let me just tell you right now, when talking about dating, marriage, or selecting a romantic partner, saying “He checks all the boxes” is not a compliment. Here is what I mean. Let’s say you have a general idea of what you want in a partner. Let’s say you’re looking to date a man. You would like for him to have a stable job, a good relationship with his family, and to like cats because you’re a cat lover too.

You might meet someone who checks all the boxes. He has all those things you want. He loves (loves!) cats, has a good job that he likes and excels at, and has a good and stable relationship with his whole family. Sounds great, right? Don’t let that guy get away! He checks all the boxes.

But you know what, you need more than just those objective criteria. You need to feel good about someone. In dating, checking all the boxes isn’t enough. So, if you’re ever talking to an English-speaking friend about a date, and your English-speaking friend starts off by saying, “Well, he checks all the boxes…” That means he meets the objective criteria, but he didn’t give your friend a great feeling.

JR’s song of the week

Today’s song of the week is “Cab” by the band Train. The song is about a cab driver (a taxi driver) in New York adjusting to being single after a breakup. It’s not one of Train’s most popular songs, but it’s really good, and the video is good, too. Thanks, JR, for selecting “Cab” by Train as this week’s song.

See you next time!

That’s all for today’s lesson. Remember, we’ll continue this topic on Monday when we’ll talk about the high-tech elements of driving a Tesla.

Remember, we’re here every Monday and Thursday to help you upgrade your English. If you enjoy this audio lesson, you’ll want to also check out Plain English Plus+ , by visiting PlainEnglish.com/Plus. That’s where you’ll find lots of additional tools to help you upgrade your English, all produced by JR and me, and all specifically for this Plain English audience. Check that out, PlainEnglish.com/Plus.

¿Hablas español?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into Spanish. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

你说中国话?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parlez-vous français?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Você fala português?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

日本語は話せますか?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Parli italiano?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

The transcript of this lesson is available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Sen Türkçe konuşmayı biliyor musun?

The transcripts of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Turkish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

Mówisz po polsku?

The transcript of Plain English lessons are available with interactive translations into your language. In each lesson transcript, we select about one hundred difficult words, phrases , and expressions for translation. Polish translations are available starting at Lesson 278.

How is this different than simply using a translation engine?

Translation engines are powerful tools for communicating in the modern world . However, they often miss the context and can either mislead you or leave you confused . Our human translators are here to make sure that you’re getting not only the correct definition, but also the full context .

How can I use the translations in my studies?

Most members use the translations as they are listening to the lesson and reading along . When you come across a word you don’t understand, you don’t have to press pause to discover the meaning . You can simply hover your mouse over the highlighted word . This lets you learn the definition of the word without having to press pause on the audio.

Do the translations work on mobile?

Yes! Instead of hovering over a highlighted word, just tap on it .

Can I see a sample?

Yes, please visit PlainEnglish.com/sample to see a sample episode with the Spanish translations.

How can I access the translations?

Translations are included in two memberships: Plain English Plus+ and Starter. Choose a plan and get started today!

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