Today’s word is “flip a switch,” and it means to change suddenly. You almost always use it just the way I used it earlier. Shohei Ohtani didn’t play too well during the training games before the regular baseball season, but when the regular season started, it was as if he flipped a switch—and he became a better pitcher. As if he flipped a switch. When you turn a light on or off in your house, you flip a switch—the light switch. The room is dark; then, you flip a switch, and all of a sudden, the room is light. Ohtani wasn’t playing very well; then as if he flipped a switch, he started playing well.
You want to use this when you’re describing a sudden change. You might say a friend or family member was in a terrible mood, but for some reason, as if he flipped a switch, his mood improved. Other times, you might struggle with learning something in school. And you try and try and try to understand—and then one day, you suddenly get it. It’s like you flipped a switch.
For a long time, wasn’t Facebook almost a model company—high tech, bringing people together, spreading freedom around the world? Then, a switch flipped somewhere and now they’re defending themselves against charges of leaking data, invading privacy, and manipulating elections in the United States and Europe. There was a sudden change in the company’s public perception; almost like someone flipped a switch.
So, remember, flip a switch can be used to describe a sudden change.
Thanks for listening to this Thursday edition of Plain English. There are new episodes each Monday and Thursday, and you can get each and every one on your phone by clicking “follow” in Spotify or “subscribe” in Apple Podcasts or your other podcast app. Coming up on Monday, we’ll talk about Lula, the ex-president of Brazil, and his surrender to police after being sentenced to 12 years in prison.