Sentimental value

Something has 'sentimental value' if it's important to you, but would not sell for much money

Today's story: Fish & chips
Explore more: Lesson #604
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Sentimental value

Something has sentimental value if its value to you is more than what you could buy or sell it for. Something—it’s often a physical thing—makes you feel good, it’s valuable to you, but other people might not pay for it.

Family photographs, for example, have sentimental value. Things that you buy on vacation, souvenirs, which remind you of fun times in the past: these have sentimental value, too. You couldn’t ever sell them. When you bought them, you didn’t pay very much. But they have greater value to you today because they remind you of good times, because they make you feel good.

I don’t wear jewelry, but a lot of people do, and a lot of people have jewelry that was in their family for a long time. So, someone today might have her grandmother’s wedding ring. That ring is old. Maybe it’s not particularly valuable in the market; maybe it would not bring in much money. But for that person wearing the ring, or who has the ring at home, it has sentimental value. It brings back memories and feelings from a cherished relative.

When you lose things in your house to a fire or a robbery, for example, often the biggest losses, the ones that hurt the most, are the things of sentimental value. You can always replace an iPad. You can replace jewelry that you’ve recently bought for yourself. But you can’t replace items that have sentimental value. You can’t go to the store and buy something that gives you great memories of an experience or of a person who is no longer with us.

And so that’s the most common way of using “sentimental value.” Use this with photos, baby clothes, gifts from friends and relatives, souvenirs from vacation, yearbooks, even sometimes marriage or immigration certificates can have sentimental value. My grandparents had framed copies of marriage and immigration documents from their parents hanging in their house.

The way I used it in today’s story about fish and chips was a little different. I said that comfort food often has sentimental value. I’ll admit, this is not the most common way to use “sentimental value.” But it’s the same idea.

I gave the example of macaroni and cheese. This is in so many American households. You can make it from a box. You can get it frozen—that’s how I had it growing up, Stouffer’s Mac and Cheese, it came in an orange box in the freezer aisle. Or you can make mac and cheese fresh.

Macaroni and cheese is comprised of two main ingredients: macaroni, which is pasta, and cheese. That’s it. Often the cheese is a dry powder in the box—delicious!. For many adults today, mac and cheese isn’t good because it has a great flavor. It isn’t good because it’s nutritious. It isn’t any of those things. We like it because it has sentimental value. Sure, it isn’t really good. But it reminds us of good times. It brings out good feelings in us. We remember being served mac and cheese at home as kids.

See you next time!

And that’s all for today’s audio lesson. Remember, there’s much more available on the web site. Today’s video lesson is about how to describe making substitutions. Also we show you how to talk about nicknames. That’s all at PlainEnglish.com/604, so make sure to check that out.

We’ll be back on Thursday with a new lesson. See you then!

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Story: Fish & chips