Down to earth

A person is "down to earth" if they are realistic or relatable

Today's story: 'A Star is Born'
Explore more: Lesson #104
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Down to earth

The expression I’d like to share with you today is “down to Earth.” Lady Gaga plays Ally, a down-to-earth character in A Star Is Born.

You would describe someone as down-to-Earth if that person is realistic and relatable. You usually say it when you’re surprised that you can relate to, or get along with, a person so easily—especially if you think for some reason that other person won’t be easy to relate to. Here’s what I mean. Lady Gaga has until now been nobody’s idea of a down-to-Earth character. She showed up at an awards dinner wearing a dress made of raw meat! That’s crazy. When she met Barack Obama, she was wearing sixteen-inch heels. Sixteen inches is almost a foot and a half! It’s 40 centimeters. High heels are usually like three inches, or eight or nine centimeters. She wore sixteen-inch heels to meet the president! This is not a person you expect to be able to convincingly play a waitress—but she does it. Her character, Ally, is a down-to-earth character. She lives with her father, she works late shifts, her boss is mean to her, she’s insecure about her appearance—all things that we can relate to. Sure, she becomes a star, but she doesn’t change. It was a little surprising that Lady Gaga could play such a down-to-Earth character, and to her credit she does it really well.

Sometimes at work you might meet people who are very senior in your company and they might be hard to get to know. Like, they’re really important and they can’t really talk to or get to know the people farther down in the organization. But sometimes you meet really senior executives and you find they’re very down-to-Earth, easy to get to know, easy to talk to, easy to get along with. I love hearing stories of people who started as hourly workers and rose to become the CEO of a big company. Those are the bosses that usually seem the most down-to-Earth, right? They remember what it’s like to be a worker.

The Pope: Il Papa. He’s pretty down-to-earth, right? Very in touch with the poor, with the faithful around the world. Any politicians come to mind as being down-to-Earth? Donald Trump? No, he’s not really a down-to-earth kind of guy; quite the opposite. Emmanuel Macron of France? Still probably not very down-to-earth. Actually I’ll tell you who had a reputation as being really down-to-Earth—that would be José Mujica, of tiny Uruguay. He’s not the president anymore, but when he was, he used to drive himself to work in a Volkswagen Beetle, lived in a small house, had the same bicycle for sixty years, and occasionally used, shall we say, salty language—bad words in public. El Pepe, they called him; he was a pretty down-to-earth kind of guy. One of his quotes was, “You don’t stop being a common man just because you are president.” I kind of like that. We don’t have a lot of down-to-earth presidents here in the US; they try to seem down-to-earth, but they usually can’t pull it off. Some people might say Bill Clinton was the recent exception to that.


That’s about all for today. If you’re listening in your car, on your way to and from work, and if you’d like to change up your entertainment a little bit, why not try an audiobook? I’m reading a book called “Sigo Siendo Yo” or in English, “Still Me.” It’s the third in the series that started with “Me Before You” or “Yo Antes De Ti” in Spanish. The books are available as audiobooks in English if you’re brave, or in Spanish. There are tons of great books in Portuguese, Chinese, Spanish, German—lots of great audiobooks in multiple languages on Audible. And you can download a free audiobook just for being a Plain English listener. You can read all the details at PlainEnglish.com/book. If you sign up for a free one-month trial, you’ll get an audiobook to keep forever, whether you actually become a paying subscriber or not. PlainEnglish.com/book for all the details.

Have a great week, study hard, practice your English, and make sure you stay down-to-earth, okay? JR and I will be right back here on Thursday. See you then.

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Story: 'A Star is Born'