The Fisherman and the Little Fish

Phrasal Verbs Course Phrasal Verbs | Idioms | Literature | Listenings

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are like idioms and have to be learnt individually. They are an essential part of your English vocabulary, and without them you will not be able to say that you have any degree of fluency in English. These Activities have been designed to make learning, remembering, and using phrasal verbs as easy and enjoyable as possible. English speakers use phrasal verbs all the time, so you need to at least be able to understand what they mean. Use them yourself and you will sound much more like a native speaker and your English will sound much more natural.


I am determined to make idioms as accessible for all students as any other part of the English language. Reading and memorising lists of vocabulary is not the most productive, interesting, or useful exercise in English language learning. I created these Activities to encourage you to not only learn and remember many English idioms, but also to have fun with them, as having fun is a great aid to learning and remembering. It is important that you know as many idioms as possible as native English speakers use them with alarming regularity. I hope that as you work your way through the Idiom Activities you will make some of the idioms your own and use them regularly like a native.


Some students like to sit back and listen to some interesting English. It doesn't get much more interesting than some of the old classics from English literature. These Activities have been created to help you get the best from the vocabulary found in some of the old classics. As you listen and read your way through these Activities, you will also broaden your understanding of English culture.


Reading is the easiest way to take in English. Listening is a much harder skill and one that has to be developed as you study the language. There are lots of speech features that arise when native English speakers speak English. These speech features, such as elision, simplification, intonation, stress, and rhythm, and the way in which speakers may miss out sounds or whole words, are important to understand if you are to be able to listen to and fully understand spoken English. These Britlish Library Activities will help you to develop you listening skills.  

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The Fisherman and the Little Fish tells the moral that it's better to accept what you have than to gamble on what you might not get. I have rewritten the Aesop's fable using as many phrasal verbs as I could come up with. If you are interested in learning some new phrasal verbs, this video is not to be sniffed at. Don't let your interest fizzle out and see what phrasal verbs I have come up with. If you want to improve your knowledge of phrasal verbs, it's time to check out this lesson.  

Phrasal Verbs Course

A fisherman got by on what he could come up with using his nets. One day, he had caught nothing but a small fish and decided to give up trying. He began packing up his stuff.

The little fish in the net, fearing for his life, broke down. “Please, let me go,” the fish sobbed. “If you throw me back, I’ll soon grow up and you can fish me out again.”

“Calm down, little fish,” said the fisherman.

But the little fish didn’t let up. “Check out the size of the fish you normally catch,” he pleaded. “I’m just a baby next to them. You wouldn’t wolf down a baby, would you?”

The little fish was playing on the fisherman’s sympathy.

The fisherman was turning the little fish’s words over in his mind.

“One day, I’ll turn out to be a big fish,” said the little fish. “You can count on it. People will cough up a lot of money for me, and you will turn over a good profit.”

The fisherman shook his head. “You don’t expect me to fall for that, do you?”

“It’s true,” said the fish. “But it doesn’t add up,” said the fisherman. “I promise I’ll come back when I’m all grown up.”

“Don’t try to fob me off with your lies,” said the fisherman. “You’ll swim off and I’ll never see you again. I’ll drop by this place again, but you never will.”

“Your wife’s going to freak out when she sees how small I am,” said the little fish.

The fisherman butted in and said, “I’m not going to back down. My wife will freak out if I don’t bring a thing home after knocking around here all day. So, cheer up, little fish. At least you’re better than nothing.”

“You don’t come across as a very nice man,” gasped the fish.

“Well, I’d rather make do with a certain gain than hold out for an uncertain profit,” said the fisherman. So, I’ll opt for taking you home.”

The little fish’s arguments fizzled out when he realised the situation was hopeless. Being out of the water for so long didn’t help either.

The fisherman popped the little fish into his pack. He packed away his fishing gear and set off home.

“Did you catch anything?” asked his wife.

“Well, it’s not to be sniffed at,” said the fisherman, whipping out the little fish.

“Oh, what a whopper,” said his wife, who was herself a very small woman. “We’ll polish off the fish with a nice slice of freshly baked bread. Now, you chill out while I whip up your dinner. You must be tired out.”

There’s a similar proverb that says a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

Phrasal Verbs

Phrasal verbs are a class of verbs which combine with a preposition or adverb to act as a single verb which says more than the words themselves. The meaning of a phrasal verb is often very different to the meanings of the words that are in the phrasal verb and this makes them difficult for students of English to master. Native English speakers tend to use lots of phrasal verbs when speaking.

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Pick Up

A look at the phrasal verb, pick up, with a listening activity to help you develop your listening skills, a video to sit back and enjoy, and some interactive questions to help you learn, remember, and use this important phrasal verb.

Categories: Phrasal Verbs | Vocabulary | Humour

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Pick Up Phrasal Verb Activator

I picked up one of the video English lessons I made as part of my Daily Dose of English series from 2010 and thought it would make a good basis for a Britlish Library lesson. In this lesson we will look at the phrasal verb, pick up, as well as the phrasal verbs hold against, get on with, and take off. We will also look at some vocabulary items such as for a song, frail, record, vinyl, speaker, florist, look good on, tab, pick up the pieces, new line, bug, and runway. I hope that you will pick up a lot of new words in this lesson.  

Categories: Phrasal Verbs | Vocabulary

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Take Phrasal Verbs and Idioms

There are a lot of British English idioms which use the verb take and this lesson will help you to learn, remember, and use the most common ones including, take a bath, take a break, take a bullet, take a chance on, take a dim view, take a firm stance, take a gander, take a hike, take a joke, take a leaf out of, take a load off, take a lot of stick, take a pew, take a running jump, take a step back, take a swing at, take after, take as it comes, take a backseat, take your breath away, take a breather, take a trip down memory lane, take your eyes off, take a fancy to, take for a spin, take for a fool, take for granted, take to heart, and take with a pinch of salt.

Categories: Idioms | Vocabulary | English in Use

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