AE 335 – Expression:
To Let Someone Off The Hook
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I thought that I would give streaming the Expression episode for the podcast, that’ll come out tomorrow, I thought about streaming that online, instead of just recording it here as I usually do behind my mic.
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Crazy fact about Australia.
I thought I would start introducing these more at the start of these podcast episodes.
Australia is as wide as the distance between London to Moscow.
So, if you’re from Europe and you know where London is in England and you know where Moscow is in Russia, Australia’s width goes from London to Moscow.
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So today’s expression is “to let someone off the hook”, “to let someone off the hook”.
And I’m getting these suggested in the Aussie English Virtual Classroom now.
So, I’m actually setting it up with a poll each week where any expressions that are suggested I’ll put in the poll, and you guys get to vote on which expression I do.
And so, this one this week is “to let someone off the hook”.
And it was picked or suggested by Laleh.
And then, you guys in the group all voted for this one to be this week’s expression.
So, as usual guys, let’s dive in and define the different words or the different verbs, nouns, everything inside the expression.
The verb “to let”, “to let”. If you let someone do something you’re allowing the person to do something.
So, it means to allow. You’re permitting the person to do something.
So, it also means that you permit the person to do something.
You could let someone go outside. You could let your friends come over.
You could let people out of a classroom at the end of the day.
So, it’s just allowing them to leave. Permitting them to leave.
Permitting them to do something. Allowing them to do something.
When we turn this into a phrasal verb and we say “to let off” instead of just “to let” this means to release, to release something.
So, if you let someone off for something it means that you release them of, I guess, responsibility of that thing.
So, you let them off, you let them off. It can also mean to emit something.
So, if you let off a smell or you let off a sound it means that you emit the sound or the smell.
So, it’s coming away from you. You’re releasing it. So, that’s “to let off”, “to let off”.
“The hook”. “A hook”. “A hook” is a curved piece of wire that is often used for catching animals or hanging things on.
So, a hook is this shape, a hook.
And often it has a little sharp end with what we call a barb.
And we’ll use it on the end of a fishing rod, for example.
We cast out the hook. We pull it in, when we catch something on the end of it.
So, that’s what a hook is.
A curved piece of wire that will be used to catch animals, and we might use it for hanging clothes on as well.
If we come inside we might take our hat off and hook the hat up or hook our jacket up.
That’s what “a hook” is.
When we combine all of this together to form the expression “to let someone off the hook”, you’ve got to imagine in your head that this person is stuck up on a hook.
Imagine like a hat or a coat. They’re on the hook.
And the hook in this expression would be like trouble that they’re facing punishment.
And if you let them off the hook you’re allowing them to avoid blame for something, avoid responsibility for something, and avoid obligation to do something that might be not what they want.
Right? So, let’s go through some examples for the expression “to let someone off the hook”.
As usual guys, I’ve got three examples here for you.
Imagine the first one is that you are a kid in a classroom and you’re doing some naughty stuff.
Maybe you’re swearing. You’re throwing paper planes.
Maybe you’re writing some notes and you’re passing them to your friends.
You know, maybe you’ve got a crush on the girl at the front of the class, and you’ve written her name down and a love heart and you’ve passed it to her.
You’ve got in trouble, ’cause the teachers seen you doing all this naughty stuff, or he’s heard you swearing, and has said, “Alright. I’m going to give you detention for misbehaving. You’ve been misbehaving. You’ve been doing the wrong thing, and I’m gonna give you detention. Come and see me at the end of the class, and I’m going to hold you in after class during lunch.”
So, imagine that you do that.
The class finishes, you go up, and at the end he says, “You know what, forget about it. I’m going to I’ll let you off the hook. I’m going to release you from your obligation to come to detention from your punishment. I’m going to let you off the hook this time, but next time I’m not going to let you off the hook so easily. Next time, you’re going to stay “on the hook”, figuratively, and you’re going to have to go to detention. So, I’ll let you off the hook this time. You can go.”
Example number two, might be that a policeman is using his radar gun or his laser gun to catch people who are speeding in their cars.
So, you’ve got a policeman, he’s on the side of the road, he’s hidden somewhere he’s obscured from view.
The cars driving really fast can’t see him.
So, they’re driving along and maybe they’re doing five kilometres over the speed limit.
So, they’re doing 105 in a 100 zone. Maybe they’re doing 150 in 100 zone.
Although you’re probably not going to get let off the hook, in this case if you did 150 in 100 zone.
But say you’re doing a few kilometres above the speed limit and you get pulled over, and the cop says, “How fast we drive and mate? How fast do you think you are going?”.
And you said, you know. “Oh, I don’t know. 103. I know it’s 100 zone. I’m really sorry. But yeah maybe 103?”.
And he says, “Yeah, it was actually 103. Look, it’s not that bad. I’m not going to give you a fine this time. I’m gonna let you off the hook, but I’m going to give you a warning, and I want you to be careful next time not to speed.”
If you were doing 150, so half the speed again, in 100 zone I doubt that the policeman would ever let you off.
You would go possibly to jail for that amount of speed over the limit. You’d get in quite a bit of trouble.
He would not let you off the hook with a warning in that case. So, that’s the second example.
Number three, imagine that you’re arrested by a policeman.
They come to your house at night and they say, “We’re arresting you for murder. You’ve been implicated in a murder that’s happened. We’re taking you to jail.”
You know you’re innocent. You’ve said, “Look, I didn’t do it. I’m innocent. I didn’t murder anyone.”
The police investigate further. They do more investigation. And they find the culprit.
They find the criminal who actually committed the murder. They find the real guy.
And they arrest him and then they let you off the hook.
So, this time, it’s not so much that you’ve done anything wrong and you’re escaping punishment, but you’re escaping punishment for something that they thought you had done.
But this time they’re letting you off the hook because they found the real culprit.
They found the real criminal that did the thing. So, that’s the idea.
“To let off the hook” is to escape punishment, to escape obligation, to be released from something.
And it’s commonly used everywhere, guys.
All English speakers everywhere will know the phrase “to let (someone) off the hook”.
So, as usual, let’s do some listen and repeat exercises, guys. It’s, I guess, “as usual” on the podcast, although, I’ve never done this obviously via streaming to you guys.
So, now is your chance to do some listen and repeat exercises with me right here.
Go and find somewhere where you’re away from other people, you’re on your own, in your bedroom, or if you’re out and about in the street go find a place where no one can hear you, and you can practice comfortably and on your own.
And let’s dive in and do some listen and repeat exercises.
First of all, I’m just going to say the expression. I’ll break it apart and then repeat it a few times.
And then, I go through the expression “I let him off the hook”, and I’m going to go through all the different pronouns.
We’ll conjugate it through. Although, it’s going to be in the past so it’ll be the same.
Anyway, listen and repeat after me guys.
Listen & Repeat:
To let off.
To let off.
To let off.
To let off the hook.
To let off the hook.
To let off the hook.
Good job. Now I’m going to say this phrase using different pronouns.
We’re going to say it the Simple Past. So, it’s in the Past tense.
And remember, “let” is one of those weird irregular verbs.
I think So… It’s just. Actually, no, it’s not a regular.
Anyway. Just listen and repeat after me guys. Ignore that.
Listen & Repeat:
I let him off the hook.
You’ve let him off the hook.
He let him off the hook.
She let him off the hook.
We let him off the hook.
They let him off the hook.
It let him off the hook.
Good job guys. Good job.
It does feel a bit weird doing that in front of the camera here, because usually when I do these I actually say them really quickly, like, with no gap between them.
I’ll say I let him off the hook. You let him off the hook. He let him off the hook. And then I insert space in between.
So, it feels really weird to kind of sit here in silence, but I hope you enjoyed it.
Now let’s go through the pronunciation and connected speech side of this episode.
I want to draw your attention, I want to get your attention,
I want you to focus on two points, in the expression that we just went over here “to let him off the hook “, you let him off the hook, he let him off the hook etc..
There’s two cool things that are happening here in English.
The first thing is H deletion, H deletion.
So, what’s happening there is that the H at the start of the word “him” is disappearing.
And we do this quite a bit when words like “him” or “her” are said really quickly in the middle of a sentence we’ll get rid of the H.
So you will have heard me say “I let_-im off the hook”. “You let_-im off”. Let_-im.
There’s no “let him”, it’s “let_-im”. You’ll also hear this when I say things like “I can see_-er”. “
You can watch_-im”. “He can call_-er”. “I said to_-im”. So, the H disappears.
So, when you go back and listen to this check out whether or not you can hear the H when I’m speaking really quickly they’re like a native.
The second thing that I want to draw your attention to is the T-flap.
The T-flap is when we say T’s in English, but it sounds a little bit closer to a D.
And so, I’m doing this in the word “let”, I’m saying the T there properly. “Let”, “let”.
When the T is followed by a vowel sound, “let_-im”, you’ll hear there that I’m not saying “leT -im”, I’m saying “let_-im”, “let_-im”.
And that’s the T flap in English.
And so, we’ll do the listen and repeat episode, episode… exercise* one more time, and I want you to pay attention to the T-flap at the end of “let”.
It’s going to be “let_-im”. And I want you to pay attention to getting rid of the H at the start of the word “him”.
So, let’s do it one more time guys, and then we’ll finish up.
And if you have any questions… this’ll be interesting, for the first time one of these expression episodes is live.
You guys can ask me questions straight away about this expression, about this pronunciation, and we can get through some of those questions.
So, let’s go through. Listen and repeat after me again guys.
And pay attention to the T-flap, “Let_-im”, and getting rid of the H, The H deletion, at the start of “him”.
It just sounds like “-im”. Let’s go.
Listen & Repeat:
I let him off the hook.
You let him off the hook.
He led him off the hook.
She led him off the hook.
We led him off the hook.
They let him off the hook.
It let him off the hook.
That’s it guys. Good job. Good job.
Let me know what you think of me streaming these episodes.
I’m thinking that I might do this more often, because I like interacting with you guys more.
I want you to be able to ask some questions directly related to this expression, to this episode, but also more broadly English if you like, and we can spend the last five minutes of the episode chatting about any problems that you currently have.
So, if you’ve got some questions now’s the time to ask.
They can be about anything, but if you do have them about this expression, about the words in this expression, about how to use this expression, put them in the comments section below here.
And other than that, let me know what you think of this episode.
Did you like the fact that I streamed the expression episode this time?
I guess the good thing too is that I’ll be able to put it up on YouTube. OK?
So, let me know what you think of that. Anyway, alright.
Some questions here. Can you use it in the opposite meaning, “you didn’t let him off the hook”?
You definitely can, Diana. You definitely can.
So, you can let someone off the hook or you cannot let someone off the hook. “Yesterday, I let him off the hook for shouting in class”, or you could say, “Yesterday I didn’t let him off the hook for shouting in class”.
So, yeah, you can definitely say it in the positive, “I let him off the hook”, or you can say it in the negative, “I didn’t let him off the hook” FOR whatever the thing is.
And the thing at the end there I guess I should point out is that you get let off the hook FOR something, FOR something that you’ve done.
So, make sure that you use the preposition “for” if you want to talk about the thing for which you are being let off the hook or the thing for which you are not being let off the hook.
So, what Simon said here? Awesome. Thank you, dude. He’s from England and he’s saying “G’day”.
How’s it going? Have any of you guys got any other questions before I finish up?
Because I want to keep the expression episodes for the podcast under 20 minutes.
So, if you have any quick questions that I can answer regarding this expression regarding the pronunciation in this episode regarding anything then feel free to ask.
Can you use “off the hook” in writing? You definitely can, Eileen.
You definitely can use “off the hook”.
The interesting thing there is that if you say “off the hook” by itself I think that can mean two things.
So, that can mean related to this expression “to be let off the hook”, but if you say that something “IS off the hook” it has… It makes me feel like it sounds like something is going crazy.
“Oh, man that movie was off the hook!”.
Although, it’s probably another expression “off the something”, off the, off the.
Anyway, it’s making me think of that. But you can definitely use it in writing if someone gets let off the hook.
It’s not slang at all. It’s a common expression.
You could use this in British English, American English, Australian English any kind of English.
It’s very very common expression.
Is it literally… does it literally mean to be freed from an obligation? Kate, it certainly does.
And it can be more like an obligation in that you’re being punished for something like you’ve done something wrong.
You’re going to get in trouble and then they let you off it. They let you escape punishment.
And in that way, I guess, the obligation would be that you have to face the punishment.
But I could also, say, imagine that I’m coming home after work and my wife wants me to cook dinner.
If I said, “I don’t really want to cook dinner”, and she said “Alright, I’ll let you off the hook tonight, but you’re doing it tomorrow.
You’re cooking tomorrow. I’ll cook tonight, but you are cooking tomorrow.
I’ll let you off the hook this time, but tomorrow it’s your turn.”
That’s where you could use it as well where you’re literally being freed, you don’t have to do this thing, this obligation, which is cooking dinner.
And Simon, Yeah, it could be “off the wall”. I can’t… “It’s going off”.
‘Cause it’s that idea, “off the hook”, “off the charts”, “off the wall”. I don’t know.
There’s some expression there that I’m thinking about when a party’s going crazy.
Australians could also say I think “it’s going off + something”, and I think it’s “off the hook”, but I’m having one of those brain freeze moments.
Anyway, one minute left guys. Any other questions before we finish up for today?
Any other questions? Feel free to chuck them below.
Otherwise, I’m going to finish up and I will probably do this next week as I enjoyed streaming this episode for you guys.
So, it looks like it’s it’s going, going, no more questions?
Going, going, going, gone…
Right cool. We’ll finish up there, guys. You did great. Thanks for joining me.
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See you guys.