Today’s expression is “put to use.” Here’s how you initially heard it. The telescopes in Chile are normally used at night. But during the eclipse, they could be put to use during the day. When you put something to use, you take something that was once idle, not doing anything, and you make it do something. You make it work.
The telescopes are usually idle during the day. No sense looking up at the sun with a powerful telescope: all you’ll see is the sun’s light. The telescopes are normally used only at night. They’re idle during the day. But, just this once, they could be put to use during the day. They could be brought into service. They could be used productively during the day, instead of just sitting idle. During the eclipse, astronomers could use the telescopes to study the sun’s corona—the outer layer that is normally not visible.
Have you ever volunteered for something, and you find that you don’t quite know what to do? You show up, you’re ready to help, you’re ready to work; you just don’t know what to do. You might approach someone in charge and say, “Put me to use.” I want to help, I’m not doing anything. Put me to use. Put me to work.
You can often say “put to good use.” When you put something to good use, you’re using it for a good or productive purpose. So many of you are learning English for work or travel. I’m sure you put your English to good use every day. You make it worthwhile. You do something good with it. You might say you want a job where you can put your skills to good use. That means, you want a job where you can use those skills.
Quote of the week
Time for the quote of the week. This will be brief this week. It’s from Plato, the Greek philosopher. Here it is: “Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.” I picked that one because a lot of what people thought about astronomy and the earth and the stars in the age of Plato was wrong, but a lot of it was right. Astronomy is one of those fields that I know very, very little about. But it just amazes me that humanity, over the years, over the centuries, has been able to piece together this complicated story of the heavens. Where the stars are, what they’re made of, how far away they are, what a black hole is, what a black hole looks like —remember that one? It’s really incredible. So I’ll leave you with our astronomy quote from today, from the Greek philosopher Plato: “Astronomy compels the soul to look upwards and leads us from this world to another.”
That’s all for today. This was a little shorter than normal. JR and I are working hard on another project that we’ll be able to tell you about very soon, so this episode and the next few will be a little shorter than normal.
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JR and I will be back with another exciting episode of Plain English on Monday. See you then!