put it past him to /keep an eye out for

Jurassic World Camp Cretaceous, Season 3, Episode 2

At about 9:30:
Brooklyn: Remember to keep an eye out for Kenji. I wouldn’t put it past him to scare us again.

They were trapped in an island with deadly dinosaurs. Kenji pretened to be a dinosaur and scared Brookly and Darius a few times. Now they are in a fog, looking for something to fix their boat, and Brooklyn said this.

Keep an eye out for something’ means that you scan an area for something you want. For example, you are going to a hotel, but you don’t know where it is. Then you ask your wife to keep an eye out for the hotel. If you are a police officer on a stakeout, you have to keep an eye out for anything suspicious. Here, they know where Kenji is. They don’t need to look for him. They need to keep an eye out for something to fix their boat, and keep an eye out for him (he might hide somewhere, waiting to scare them again) when they are searching for it. This use strikes me as odd. I guess I just have so much to learn.

I wouldn’t put it past him (to do sth) means that it’s not surprising he is going to do it. Here, Brookly means that Kenji would try to scare her and Darius, “I wouldn’t put it past him to scare us again”. The meaning of the phrase isn’t clear by itself, but it seems children in their teens are supposed to understand it. It’s difficult for me for sure.


During His Nap

My son seldom sleeps in the afternoon, but today he did. I said to my wife, “It was unusual that he fell asleep in/during his nap.”

During a nap is correct. In a nap is not. The sentence is completely wrong. A nap is a kind of sleep, so you can’t fall asleep during your nap because you’re already asleep.

Also, it seems ‘going to bed’ refers to bedtime at night instead of a nap at noon.

One more point about ‘nap’:
You can’t say ‘he talks in his nap’. If somebody only talks in their sleep during naps, and never while sleeping at night, that person still ‘talks in his sleep’. “He talks in his sleep but only during naps, never at night.”

Thank you to Claire for the explanations. ūüôā



lunch tomorrow/tomorrow’s lunch

A few days ago at dinner, I told my wife, ‘I can eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.’
1. I can eat the leftovers for lunch tomorrow.
2. I can eat the leftovers for tomorrow’s lunch.

According to the response below, sentence one is more natural. Tomorrow’s lunch sounds like an event or a meeting or an activity, so it’s more formal. We might also say ‘at lunch tomorrow’ or ‘during lunch tomorrow’. ‘At’ refers to an event or a place and ‘during’ refers to the time period. As we are talking about food, ‘for’ is the more natural one as it refers to lunch as food.


Leave . . . to/for . . .

“He left the house TO this three children.” This is from the Cambridge Dictionary. The definition of ‘left’ here is “to arrange for someone to receive something after you die.” If I used ‘FOR’ (He left the house FOR this three children), what would be the difference?

A kind member from italki gave a pretty clear explanantion:
We tend to use to if someone is left something in a will or after somebody dies So for example, George left his piano to his niece when he died. You can say it was left for someone but this implies that the person receiving it is maybe not in a position to take possession of the item immediately so in your example, he left the house for his 3 children, this suggests there is some reason why the children cannot take possession of the house, maybe the children are too young and the house will be held in trust for them until they are adults. He left the house to his 3 children- the children get possession immediately In both cases the giver has most likely died but this is not absolutely certain, they may have moved away permanently for example unless a will is specifically mentioned

I found other examples for the Cambridge Dictionary: I left it to her to make the decision. Leave it (= the problem) with me, I’ll see what I can do.

It seems when it comes to responsibility, ‘leave it to’ is natural as well. Using ‘with’ gives me less of a feel that the person is less determined to solve the situation. I’ll leave the question (until) later when I find something relevant. ūüôā
For (more informal) /until are all fine here, but ‘to’ is controversial and possibly odd in most situations.

I feel “Leave it to” is mainly used in the context of a bequest or responsibility. That is to say, ‘leave it for’ is a safe bet in most scenarios.





The filtrates were fed to three¬†‚Äėvoluntary‚Äô¬†inmates in the Maryland House of Correction. Two inmates got sick. Their stools were collected and treated before they were fed to¬†more inmates. I don‚Äôt know how the researchers knew they¬†were¬†voluntary¬†[I don’t know how the researchers verified that these inmates had volunteered/ I don’t know how the researchers got the inmates to volunteer #2]

I was talking about research on norovirus, which was performed long time ago. Filtrates were fed to inmates for researchers to observe the natural course. I had never thought that my use of ‘voluntary’ sounded off.

‘The filtrates were fed to three¬†volunteer¬†inmates in the Maryland House of Correction.’ This is my friend’s correction.

I looked them up in the sentence dictionary and got a sense that voluntary seldom goes with a person, but there are still examples about that.
We depend solely upon our voluntary helpers.
 She is a voluntary worker at the hospital.

Here is his response:
That is exactly my feeling too. I prefer not to use “voluntary” to describe a person because there is a word for it which is “volunteer.” Example : volunteer, volunteer soldier, volunteer firemen, volunteer helper, volunteer worker etc. I have also come across many sentences using voluntary¬†to describe a person just like your examples. But I don’t think I have ever seen a newspaper¬†write, “he is a voluntary soldier” or “they are all voluntary firemen.”

I would use voluntary to describe something other than the person. Example : The inmates decision to participate in the research study was strictly voluntary. Their enlistment to the army was all voluntary. I can’t assure you that I am 100% correct on this but this is my strong feeling.

As English is used by plenty of people in huge areas, it’s not difficult to understand that everyone has their own way of using each word.

In vain

1.They tried in vain to open the locked door.
2.They endeavoured to make her happy but in vain.
3.We searched in vain for the missing child.

I looked the phrase ‘in vain’ up when writing an essay. The above examples are from Sentence Dictionary. Thus I used a sentence similar to #2.

1 & 3 above are fine but I don’t quite agree with #2.¬†A complete sentence sounds better after the connecting word ‘but’. So according to my language partner, the second sentence would sound more natural if it were written this way: They endeavored to make her happy but¬†their efforts were in vain.

Under/In the sea

Then an avalanche happened under the sea*, burying three narwhals. As whales can’t breathe in water.

Under the sea or in the sea, which one is better?

Both in/under sound good to me. “In the sea,” can mean both on the sea surface or below the water level. “Under the sea,” generally means under the water level only. Example : Fish in the sea/ Fish under the sea, both are fine. You can say : Boats in the sea. But you will never say : Boats under the sea unless the boats have sunk. 

in water or in the water?

I got a terse answer: both are fine.

Except/except for

Without fever, without nausea and vomiting, getting up in the afternoon, I felt as if I hadn‚Äôt gotten the vaccine, except FOR the pain on the injection site

“I felt as if”, ‘I felt like’, ‘it felt as if’, ‘it felt like’ are all acceptable. My first choice is usually to try and use “I” where possible and make it more personal. But in this case there are a lot of “I’s” very close together so I preferred to use “it.” I‘ll pay attention to this.

But another point is except and except for. ¬†They are often interchangeable, but for a separate clause, ‘except for’ sounds more natural. I haven’t got the hang of this yet. Need to read more.

That’s it. I did it.

I fidgeted right before I got a COVID vaccine last year. After I did it, I wrote ‘That’s it. I did it.’ My friend gave me a suggestion.

¬†Many of us, (myself included) may write it like that too without thinking much about it. But if you really want to be fussy, it may be treated as an error (I’m not an English teacher though). You wrote it as indirect speech, so the correct tense should be‚ÄĒThat was it, I did it.¬†That’s = that is.¬†“That’s it” in this tense would be fine if this was written as direct speech, like something you said or thought to yourself. Example : “That’s it, I did it,” I thought to myself. This case the tense is fine. Bear in mind we are really being fussy and finding fault with the smallest little detail.

The point I get is that run-on sentences are acceptable if I write in a casual way. In addition, fixed phrases are actually OK regardless of tenses. I feel ‘that’s it’ falls in this category.


My friend’s son was hospitalized last year during the COVID pandemic. They didn’t eat lunch because they were still full that time. They thought they could warm it up later. However, it wasn’t the case. They had to swallow it cold. Then dinner came. They had to eat it right now, or eat it cold later.

I wrote this sentence ‘Another dilemma happened in 3 hours when dinner was sent to their room’ and used ‘dilemma’ in an unnatural way.
Usually it is‚ÄĒI am faced with a dilemma/ I am in a dilemma/ I was put in a dilemma/ ??? put me in a dilemma.

  1. She faces the dilemma of disobeying her father or losing the man she loves.
  2. The fundamental dilemma remains: in a tolerant society, should we tolerate intolerance?
  3.  This poses a difficult dilemma for teachers.
  4. She faced a dilemma about whether to accept the offer or not.
  5.  I am on the horns of a dilemma about the matter.
    These above sentences are from Sentence Dictionary.

Something like these may sound more natural:
1.They were faced with the same dilemma three hours later.
2.They were placed in another dilemma.
3.They faced a similar dilemma.

Knowing what a word means is not enough to use it naturally.