Rely on

When you “rely on” something or someone, you need that person or thing for support or help.

Today's story: Living in O'Hare
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Rely on

Today’s expression is “rely on.” When you rely on something or someone, you need that person or thing for support or help. You can say “rely on for” and a noun, or “rely on to” and a verb. I’ll give you a few examples of each.

In today’s lesson, you heard that a man lived for three months in Chicago’s O’Hare airport . He relied on the generosity of strangers to buy him meals. That means, he needed the generosity of others to be able to eat while he was there; he obviously wasn’t working and didn’t have much in the way of resources. He relied on others for help at meal time; he depended on that help; he needed it.

Have you heard the term, “word-of-mouth advertising”? It means a company relies on its customers for referrals. Word-of-mouth advertising means that one customer has a good experience and tells her friends; they then have good experiences and tell their friends; and so on . Some companies rely on television ads for publicity. Other companies don’t need to do that. Other companies can rely on viral content for publicity. Still others rely on referrals from existing customers for publicity.

Long ago, I realized that I needed help just in case something goes wrong with my web site, PlainEnglish.com. I’m technical enough to do some things on the web site, but certainly not all. So I rely on an outside company for web site support. They help in case something goes wrong. You might rely on a friend or family member for advice in a difficult situation.

When you rely on someone for something, it means the other person is giving you a thing—a meal in an airport, publicity, support, advice, whatever. When you rely on someone “to” do something, the other person does something to help you or helps you do something yourself.

I rely on JR to edit and produce the audio and video lessons. I rely on him to produce the lessons: I need him to do that. If he doesn’t do that, I’m a little lost. I rely on JR to edit the audio and video lessons each week. I rely on my team of eight translators to create the translated content for Plain English Plus+ members.

Here in Chicago, we have good public transportation. Although most people in the United States have access to a car for personal transportation, it’s possible in big cities to get around without a car. Many people here rely on the trains and buses to get around. Without the trains and buses, they would not be able to move around the city, so we say, they rely on the public transit to get around.

Donald Trump relied on Twitter to distribute his messages. Then, Twitter banned his account and he had no way to communicate with his millions of followers. He probably should have thought about what would happen if he was banned from the service he relied so heavily on.

Hey, there’s another way to use “rely on”: we can say “rely heavily on” if you really need something and you use it a lot.

The electronics industry relies heavily on lower-cost labor from Asia to assemble their products. That means, they really need that lower labor cost to make their products affordable: without it, they’d be in real trouble. I rely heavily on a software platform called WordPress to run my web site. The flexibility of WordPress helps me bring the best membership experience possible to my members. Without WordPress, I’d be in a bad spot. I couldn’t afford to custom code all those functions. I rely heavily on WordPress to run the functions on my web site. I really need it.

Quote of the Week

Today’s quote of the week is from the book I’m reading. I told you last week, it’s “No Filter,” a book about the history of Instagram. And the quote at the beginning of one chapter is from Ashton Kutcher, the actor, who was an early adopter of Instagram. Here’s what he said: “Before, the internet was a reflection of humanity, but now humanity is a reflection of the internet.”

Indeed, it seems like it used to be that the internet had a little bit of everything in humanity—the good, the bad, the ugly. But now, the worst parts of the internet are finding their way into the offline world. Here’s the quote once again—”Before, the internet was a reflection of humanity, but now humanity is a reflection of the internet,” says Ashton Kutcher in the book “No Filter.”

See you next time!

And that is all today. Congratulations on finishing another Plain English lesson. You know you can rely on us to bring you a new lesson each Monday and Thursday at PlainEnglish.com and on your favorite podcast apps.

If you’re ready to do a little bit more than just listen, then you can rely on us for that, too. Plain English Plus+ will help you build your confidence in English with custom quizzes, exercises, videos, and other resources. We also do two live video calls a month with me and JR—we rely on Zoom for that—and they are a lot of fun.

So check that out by visiting PlainEnglish.com/Plus. We’ll be back on Thursday: a famous voice in American media (radio and television) has died. Larry King, the most popular voice on CNN for 25 years, was 87. That’s on Thursday; see you then!

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Story: Living in O'Hare