Pass along

When you “pass something along,” you give it to someone else for that person to use.

Today's story: Password-free future
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Pass along

Today’s English expression is “pass along.” When you pass something along, you give it to someone else for that person to use. We often use this phrase when something is making its way through a process. When you give that thing to someone else, you pass it along.

For years—and it’s funny to think about this now—but for years in my office, we circulated a one-page printed paper that included all our active projects. And we’d mark up the paper to update our list of projects. We used to do that once a week, probably eight or ten of us on a team. One person would print out a fresh copy, make updates, and pass it along to the next person. The next person would get it, make updates, pass it along to someone else.

Think about “pass along” as something moving from station to station. One person uses it, and passes it along to another person. The object—whatever it is—goes station to station.

You can use “pass along” as instructions for someone else. For example, if you buy concert tickets for two friends, you might give two tickets to one friend and ask her to pass along the other ticket to the third friend. “Can you pass the other ticket along to JR?” you might ask.

As a kid, my teachers would always give me stuff to pass along to my parents. Back before e-mail, this is how the school would communicate with parents. Teachers would print out a flyer or something, give it to the kids at the end of the day, and they’d tell us, pass this along to your parents. They meant, give this to your parents when you get home; station to station.

“Pass along” is most often used with tangible things, things you can touch and give to someone else. But in today’s lesson, I used it a little differently. We were talking about authentication in the password-less future . And in this utopia—just kidding, it won’t be a utopia—but in this future world without passwords, we will prove our identities on our devices with biometrics. Then, the operating systems—Windows, Android, or iOS—the operating systems will pass along our authentication to third-party web sites like Spotify or your bank.

In this case, I mean to say that the operating systems will communicate or deliver the proof of your identity to the other sites. So you create the “authentication” on your device. And your device then delivers the authentication to third-party web sites. Authentication is not something you can touch and feel, so it takes a little imagination, but this is a proper use of “pass along” with something intangible.

Here’s another example. Fuel prices are high—we feel that as we drive around. But trucking companies are also facing higher costs, and they are passing their higher costs along to retailers. The retailers are passing their higher costs along to us . This is a great example of something intangible going station to station with “pass along.” The truck drivers have higher costs; they pass them along to the retailers. Retailers have higher costs; they pass them along to us.

It goes in the opposite direction, too. Have you ever heard a commercial where a company tells you that they have lower costs, and they pass the savings along to you? This is true with direct-to-consumer brands that don’t have expensive advertising budgets, expensive store footprints, and expensive distribution networks. Warby Parker, for example, discovered that you can make glasses for a lot less than what most glasses cost in a store. So they built a lean business online (at first) and they passed the savings along to customers. That means, they had lower costs, and they passed the savings along to customers by charging less for their glasses.

JR’s song of the week

JR has selected a song of the week. It is, “I’ll Be Loving You” by The King Khan & BBQ Show. They are a Canadian rock band from Montreal. “I’ll Be Loving You” by The King Khan & BBQ Show is JR’s song of the week.

See you next time!

And that brings us to the end of the audio portion of Plain English lesson number 461. The lesson continues online at PlainEnglish.com/461, where you can get some practice, read the transcript, do some exercises, and learn some new words.

In the video today, I’m going to show you how to describe what happens when there are two forces moving in opposite directions. So imagine I wake up and I get e-mail confirmations of several new members of Plain English Plus+ . I always love that, when I see multiple new members joined overnight. Welcome aboard. But imagine that same day, someone cancels. And that’s all right—look, it happens, we can’t get too down about it. But how do I describe the situation if there are things going up and things going down? That’s the topic of the video lesson. This is a tough one; that’s why we put it in a video, where you can see step-by-step exactly how to do it. It’s all at PlainEnglish.com/461.

We’ll wrap up now…we’ll be back here on Monday with a new audio lesson; in the meantime, I’ll see you online at PlainEnglish.com.

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Story: Password-free future