Test someone’s patience

To "test someone's patience" is to frustrate that person

Today's story: Birth tourism in Canada
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Test someone’s patience

The phrase I’d like to share with you today is to test someone’s patience. You can also say, try someone’s patience; it means the same thing. The issue of birth tourism is testing some Canadians’ patience with the idea of birthright citizenship. You heard today that Canadians are naturally very open and welcoming, in general. They are not the type to want to reject people coming to visit, or to look harshly on a child born to a foreign parent. But the idea of people flying to Canada, giving birth, getting a passport for the new child, and then immediately leaving—well, that is starting to test some people’s patience. That is starting to make them run out of patience. It is putting their welcoming nature to a test—it’s putting it at risk, in other words.

So when you test someone’s patience, you are frustrating that person. If you’re not careful, that person will run out of patience with you. He or she will get mad at you. Upset with you—if you’re not careful. That person probably has some patience, they’re relatively understanding, but if you’re not careful they’re going to be angry.

“You’re really testing my patience.” I heard that as a kid. I think all kids in English-speaking countries hear that at one point or another—from their parents, teachers, or coaches. Kids test the patience of their parents all the time.

Sometimes the weather in Chicago tests my patience with the city. Although as I’m recording this, it’s snowing outside, right in time for JR’s visit to Chicago. He loves the snow—I’m indifferent. But what really tests my patience is when I have to travel in the bad weather. It makes the roads dangerous and flights and buses and trains are delayed.

The kicker for the Chicago Bears! Oh man, he tested our patience all year long, missing important kicks. But the Bears won the big games, so we were able to forgive him. But then when it mattered most, at the end of a playoff game, he missed what should have been an easy kick, and the Bears lost. They are out of the playoffs now. He tested our patience all year, and I think I’m not alone among Bears football fans when I say that my patience with this kicker has run out. I hope they get someone new in there next year.


Don’t forget to join our e-mail community by visiting PlainEnglish.com/mail. If you do so, you’ll get a message each time a new show comes out. That message will have a description of the current episode, one additional English word or phrase from the episode, and links to the articles I used to prepare the show. I think the word I’m going to choose for today’s email is “cottage industry.” So if you are on the list, watch out for that—if you’re not on the list, then get on it! PlainEnglish.com/mail.

That’s all for today’s episode. Remember we’ll be back on Monday for another new episode—I think you’ll like that one. It’s about Dr. Google—by which I mean, the practice of searching for your symptoms on Google instead of just, you know, asking your doctor. We’ve all done it—so that’s the topic on Monday. See ya then.

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Story: Birth tourism in Canada