Today’s expression is “an uphill battle.” An uphill battle: we say this when someone has a difficult task, or when success is not assured.
Here’s how you heard it. The city faces an uphill battle in getting the jails approved. That’s because the people who live and work in those areas are not going to be too happy about getting new neighbors. They will oppose the construction in public hearings and so forth, so the city faces an uphill battle. They will probably get what they want, but it won’t be easy, and there’s always a chance this won’t work.
We often say this when there is some type of opposition to a task or an idea. For example, I could try to squat 225 pounds at the gym next week—that’s difficult for me, but possible. (Well, for one rep anyway…) However, nobody is trying to stop me. For that reason, we don’t say I face an uphill battle in the gym. I just have a difficult task.
Last week, the World Series of baseball wrapped up. The World Series is a best-of-seven series: the teams play until one team wins four games, for a maximum of seven games. The Washington Nationals won the first two games, and the Houston Astros faced an uphill battle trying to win the whole Series. They had already lost two games—to win the Series, they needed to win four of the next six games. Not impossible, but they faced an uphill battle. It’s an uphill battle because the other team is trying to stop them. In fact, the Astros did not win after all; they faced an uphill battle and lost it!
Justin Trudeau will face an uphill battle to get his agenda passed in Canada. Though he will remain as Prime Minister after the most recent elections, his party is weakened and he has to form a coalition with a smaller party just to stay in power. Not impossible, but his job is a lot harder now that his party is weakened in government. Another example from politics: Boris Johnson is facing an uphill battle to get his new Brexit plan approved.
You might preview a difficult task and say, “This is going to be an uphill battle.” I’m switching email providers—I’ll tell you more about that on Monday—but I’m switching email providers and that means I’m going to have to convince JR to learn a whole new system for when he sends out the episode emails each week. It’s possible! It’s possible that JR will embrace the change. But I have a feeling it might be an uphill battle for me…
JR’s song of the week
Today’s song of the week is “Old Habits Die Hard” by Allie X. I heard from Rafael in Paraná, Brazil, and he said that after listening to Plain English, he’s able to understand more of the words in his favorite songs, which is great. And I asked him for his favorite song in English and it’s this one. “Old Habits Die Hard” by Allie X. That’s an expression by itself—it means it’s hard to give up old habits, habits you’ve had for a long time. So check that out on Spotify or Deezer or YouTube or wherever you listen to music. And thanks to Rafael from Paraná, Brazil.
That’s all for today’s episode. A bit of a different topic, but now you are up to speed on your incarceration vocabulary. You might remember a few episodes ago, we talked about the midnight marathon in sweltering Qatar. On Monday, we’ll be talk about how the tiny desert nation is preparing to host the 2022 World Cup, so make sure you come right back here for that one.
And if you’re serious about improving in English, then I encourage you to check out Plain English Plus+. One of the best features of Plain English Plus+ is our video lessons. With each episode—twice a week—we highlight one little piece of grammar or English usage and we show you how to use it in a video lesson. And if you think it’s just sitting back and watching—it’s not. You get to write your own sentences right from inside the video. These videos show you the ways to connect ideas, develop your thoughts, and sound more professional in your writing and speaking. If this sounds like what you need, then come check us out at PlainEnglish.com/Plus.
Thanks again for being with us as always and we will see you right back here on Monday.