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to not lift a finger: meaning and explanation

If you complain about someone not lifting a finger, then you are accusing them of being extremely lazy and not even doing the smallest amount to help. This expression is usually used in grammatically negative sentences, e.g. I had to do all the tidying up myself. He didn’t lift a finger to help.

It is possible to use this expression in grammatically positive sentences in certain structures, e.g. It would be nice if he lifted a finger to help occasionally, or He actually lifted a finger to help for once. In both these sentences, the suggestion is that the person normally doesn’t lift a finger to help.

Have a go at these micro-dictation exercises to hear this expression being used in context – how much can you understand?

Listening exercises

Micro-listening #1

Accent: Scottish

really you never around .

About the sentence

…I’m getting really fed up…

If you are fed up of/with something then you feel frustrated and annoyed with something, usually because you have had enough of it or it has been going on for too much time. e.g. His jokes were funny in the beginning, but I’m getting really fed up of them now.

Micro-listening #2

Accent: Ireland

Micro-listening #3

Accent: England (RP)


Extra practice

Here are some questions/links to help you learn the new vocabulary:

  • Have you ever lived with a lazy housemate? Tell me about them using this expression.
  • Who is the laziest person you know?

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