Today’s expression is “to sit well.” This does not sit well with me. What does that mean? What does it mean if something doesn’t sit well with you?
It means you are uncomfortable with it. “That doesn’t sit well with me” is another way of saying, “That makes me uncomfortable.” That makes me uneasy. I don’t fully agree with that. We almost always use it in the negative. That doesn’t sit well with me. We rarely use it in a positive sense. “That sits very well with her”—it’s possible to say that, but it’s much more common to use it negatively.
Do you remember how you heard it on today’s lesson? You heard that the Blue Nile tributary flows through Ethiopia and supplies most of the water to the main trunk of the Nile River that flows through Egypt. Ethiopia is finishing a huge hydroelectric dam and corresponding reservoir upstream of Egypt. Ethiopia will have the power, therefore, to turn Egypt’s water supply on and off. This does not sit well with Egypt. Egypt and its 100 million citizens rely on the Nile for their water, including for their crops. They are not going to be comfortable with another country turning off the water supply. This hydroelectric dam project in Ethiopia does not sit well with the Egyptians.
When’s the last time something didn’t sit well with you? It could be a situation that you disagree with, a situation that could do you harm. It is popular these days for mobs of people to tear down statues of historical figures. That does not sit well with me. There is often a case—a good reason—for statues not to be displayed in public, due to the ethics or actions of the person in question. In those cases, I think a city should debate and agree on what statues should remain, and take down the ones that they want to remove. But a mob violently ripping down a statue—that doesn’t sit well with me. Christopher Columbus is a target of this kind of thing. People find statues of the Italian explorer Christopher Columbus and they rip it down and cheer as it falls. This doesn’t sit well with me because I disagree with what they are doing.
Another way of using this phrase is when something makes you uncomfortable because it might violate your principles or your ethics. Imagine you’re at work and an important customer calls. They need a job done and they want to hire your company to do it. Do you have the experience to do this project? They ask. Your colleagues on the phone all speak up. Yes of course, they say. We do this all the time. We can absolutely handle this. We’re very experienced in this type of project. Don’t you worry, they say. Then they hang up the phone and look at one another, and at you. They say, “Okay, now we have to figure out how to do this.”
Does that sit well with you? People over-representing their experience and qualifications: that happens a lot in business. It doesn’t really sit well with me. But the other view is that, if everyone does it, and if you truly can learn how to do something, then it’s no big deal. But for me…it just doesn’t sit well with me.
I’m watching the TV show Monarca right now. The son of one of the main characters accepts an expensive gift from his uncle—a racehorse, a very, very expensive gift. That doesn’t sit well with the boy’s mother. She doesn’t feel comfortable letting her son accept such an expensive gift. That would not sit well with me either. That sounds like one family member trying to buy the loyalty of another. That would not sit well with me.
Also in Monarca, that same woman’s daughter Camila befriends someone at her expensive, private school. Her new friend is there on a scholarship, which means that his family doesn’t pay the full fee to attend the school. Other students mock him for not having as much money as they do. That does not sit well with Camila. She thinks it’s not ethical. It’s against her principles to be that cruel.
Quote of the Week
Here’s an interesting quote from Horace, a Roman poet from about two thousand years ago. Here it is: "Many shall be restored that now are fallen and many shall fall that are now in honor." It means that people’s fortunes can change. If you’re fallen—if you’re down—you can be restored. And if you’re “in honor”, if you’re in a good position, you can yet fail in the future. Not everyone will experience the reversal, but many will. Here’s the quote again: "Many shall be restored that now are fallen and many shall fall that are now in honor" by the Roman poet Horace.
See you next time!
That’s it today! Thanks for sticking with us until end. And remember, if you speak Turkish or Polish, then you have a whole new way of enjoying Plain English, with our instant translations in the transcripts—built right in. And if you’re not yet a Starter or Plain English Plus+ member, you can join at PlainEnglish.com/join