Now, the VOA Learning English program Words and Their Stories.
On this program we explain common expressions that we use in everyday life.
The world celebrates Earth Day every year on April 22.It is a day to think seriously about how our lifestyles and daily habits affect the earth.
Well, today we celebrate our shared Mother Earth with a show about earth expressions.To which, you might say, “What on earth took you so long?!”
Well, we think every day should be earth day!
So, let’s start with the simple yet common expression on earth.We use “on earth” to make strong feelings like surprise, shock, anger, disgust even stronger. And we use it a lot.
Here are some examples.
How on earth am I supposed to read this entire book in one night?
What on earth are you cooking? It smells awful!
Why on earth didn’t you come to the party? It was awesome!
I did not know what on earth she was talking about.
We often use “on earth” in connection with choices.
For example: “Why on earth are you going to the dance with him!He has a police record! You should go with a nice guy instead.”
To the ends of the earth, I follow my star. To the ends of the earth, just to be where you are.
The earth sometimes comes up when a person wants to make big promises to someone they care about.
When you say you will go to the ends of the earth for someone, it means you will do as much as possible to help them.For example, when the wife became sick, the husband went to the ends of the earth to find the best doctor to help her.
A mother or father may promise to move Heaven and Earth to help their children.“To move Heaven and Earth” simply means that you are willing to work very hard.
一位母亲或父亲可能会答应竭尽全力来帮助他们的孩子。“To move Heaven and Earth”就是指你愿意尽全力的去做什么。
Now, there is a wide mix of places on Earth: oceans and deserts, jungles and plains, valleys and mountains.Some places are, at times, easier to live in than others.And the word “earth” comes in handy to describe them.
We could call a place that is beautiful, peaceful with endless natural resources a heaven on earth.
However, “heaven on earth” could describe any place that has everything a person needs to be happy.Let’s say you love books and reading above all else.A well-stocked library would most likely be your heaven on earth.
然而，“人间天堂”（heaven on earth）可以描述任何一个可以带给人快乐的地方。比方说，你喜欢读书，喜欢阅读。一个藏书丰富的图书馆很可能是你的天堂。
But maybe you prefer being outdoors.A perfect outing for you would be hiking in the mountains and swimming in a clear lake.That would be your heaven on earth.
Unfortunately, there is also a hell on earth.
A “hell on earth” is a place or situation where things are so bad you feel as if you are in, well, hell.A war zone or a place destroyed by a natural disaster can become a “hell on earth.”
“人间地狱”（hell on earth）是指一个地方或在某种情况下，那里所发生事情是如此的糟糕，你觉得你好像在，嗯，地狱里一样。战争地带或者一个被自然灾害摧毁的地方会变成“人间地狱”（hell on earth）。
But you probably know this already. It is hardly earth-shattering news.
When something shatters, it breaks into many small pieces.Something would have to be terribly powerful to shatter the earth.So, when something is “hardly earth-shattering,” it is not surprising.We mostly use this phrase in the negative form.You can also say more simply that something is not earth-shattering.
We use “earth” in many expressions that describe not only places, but people.
Down-to-earth people are reasonable and dependable.We can also call them grounded, an adjective that goes well with the word "earth."Flighty people are the opposite.You can’t depend on them. They change their minds often and are very unpredictable.
The expression salt of the earth comes from the Bible, the Christian holy book.It describes a very good person.For example, my neighbors are always helping out people in need.I can call them salt of the earth type people.
“世上的盐”（salt of the earth）这一表达方式是来自圣经，基督教的圣书。它用来描述了一个人非常好。例如，我的邻居总是帮助有需要的人。我可以称他们是高尚的人。
Now let’s hear some of these expressions used in a conversation between two co-workers.
A: Where on earth have you been?! I haven’t seen you for weeks!
B: I was on vacation. And it was fabulous!
A: Lucky you. Where did you go?
B: I vacationed on a beautiful tropical island.For two whole weeks, I was surrounded by bright white sand, sunny skies and a calm blue ocean.
A: Sounds like heaven on earth.
B: It was! How was your week?
A: Well, the office was short on staff. So, I had to stay late every night.
B: Oh. That sounds awful.
A: It was hell on earth.
B: Well, I’m back now. How can I help?
A: First, I would check in with Rashma. She was promoted while you were on vacation.
B: She was?
A: Well, it’s hardly earth-shattering news.I mean, she is the hardest-working person here.
B: That’s true. I just thought that Angie would have been promoted first.She’s so down-to-earth and everyone likes her.
A: Oh, Angie is great -- a real salt of the earth woman.But Rashma has moved heaven and earth to help this company.
B: That’s true. Why on earth she’s still here is beyond me.I thought she would have her own company by now!
We will end this program with one more “earth” expression. When you promise someone the earth, you promise to give them whatever they could possibly want.Naturally, we use this in an exaggerated way.No one can give another person the earth!
You know, if I write a country song, I already know what I’ll name it: “He promised me Earth, but all I got is dirt.”
And that’s the end of WORDS AND THEIR STORIES. I’m Anna Matteo.
How do you use "earth" in your language? Let us know in the Comments Section.