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Session 7

Maggoty dogs and crabs walking backwards teach us about the phrase though this be madness, yet there is method in't from William Shakespeare's Hamlet - and we bring you lots more useful expressions for talking about strange behaviour!


Session 7 score

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Activity 3

Have you gone mad?!

You're going to ask her to marry you? Are you mad?!

Sometimes there is method in someone's madness... but sometimes, they are just being silly.

To do

There are many informal ways to say that someone's behaviour is strange or silly. Listen to the audio and repeat each phrase after you hear it. Remember to sound shocked - you think their behaviour is crazy! You'll then hear an example sentence using the phrase. 

Mad means crazy, silly or stupid in British English.
In American English, mad means angry or upset.

Listen to the audio and do the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

1) You're out of your mind!

   You're going to ask her to marry you? You're out of your mind! You've only known her for 4 weeks!

2) I must be losing it!

    That's the third time this week that I've left my lunch at home - I think I must be losing it!

3) You're absolutely bonkers!

    You're going running in this weather?! You're absolutely bonkers!

4) You're off your rocker!

    You're giving away all your money to charity?! You're off your rocker!

5) You're nuts! 

    You're going to do a skydive? You're nuts!

How was your pronunciation? Did you sound natural?

To do

Here’s a quick quiz to help you remember the phrases!

You're crazy!

5 Questions

Order the words to create phrases that mean: You're crazy!

Congratulations you completed the Quiz
Excellent! Great job! Bad luck! You scored:
x / y

Well done if you remembered all the phrases correctly! You can now tell your friends that they are mad - in a nice way!

Over to you

We asked you to tell us about something you do that seems crazy but there is actually method in your madness! Here are some of your stories: 


In my office, I always to learn for improve my English. As usual I learn by Bbc Learning English and memoriez all vocabulary about English. I have colleague in my office and they always says "You're absolutely bonkers! You can't learn like that, you must learn at your English class or at your school. But I don't care about that, because these is my method in my madness.



I'm a volunteer local guide. I guide foreign tourists to historic sites in my town. So I have to study hard. My mom always says " You are nuts! You can't get much money as a guide, even though you study hard". But there's method in my madness. The more I study, the more chances I get as a guide. The chances improve my English. Then, I can save money because I don't need to go to English conversation schools.



My friends say i am absolutely off my rocker since i'm 47 and spend almost 7 hours a day studying English. I understand it may appears i'm losing it but i have to say there´s method in my madness. I´m currently unemployed, so the best thing i can do in the meanwhile is to improve my competencies and be better prepared for the future.


Rashad, Egypt

I have a mad way to learn English with you, BBC, and this mad way is :

when I listen to a program such as 6 minute English, first I listen carefully to the show, then I print the transcript, after that I imagine my self one of the presenters that's why  I record myself playing the role of one of the presenters like Neil and other once playing the role of the other presenter like Alice, then I listen to all them.

Before you call me nuts, there's method in my madness, It helps me to improve my pronunciation and also to remember words and phrases.



My friends think I'm off my rocker because I like running in the forest where there arent' any path. But I think there is method in my madness because each one keep a part of animal and we have to use it for not loosing it.


Kate, Vietnam

I really enjoy the lesson “though this be madness”.  I usually spend 3-4 hours to study English with BBC. Some of my friends may think I am out of my mind because I’m 37. But there’s method in my madness. Not only English is my passion but also my two daughters. I have to be good at English in order that I am close to them. We can play English games, listen to the music or watch films together.



My sister thinks I’m off my rocker because I establish routines to my three years old son. There is time for food, time for playing, time for napping, and bed time is always at 8pm.

My parents one day said to me I was losing my marbles because I do not let my son to watch more than one hour and a half daily of electronic devices including TV, tablet, mobile phone and PC.

To be honest keep up with the routine is challenging and sometimes you need to be flexible otherwise you will get nuts!!

But there is method in my madness because Paediatricians and psychologist recommend that toddlers should not watch more than one hour of TV and electronic devices per day to ensure that they do not suffer from lack of attention in the future. Establishing routines is good in order to developed responsibility and security. 



This year I enrolled in a university course. Even though I chose it by myself, it turned out to be wrong for me, and at this difficult point in my life have come out things I really love studying: music and languages. So I began studying English a lot with BBC learning English and also Finnish, waiting for the next year to swap. My friends think I'm absolutely bonkers because they believe the second one be useless. Despite the fact that it could be true in an academic field, I often say there's method in my madness. I am planning to go to Finland for summer holidays and my Finnish friends would really appreciate if I spoke in their own motherlanguage...


Ia, Georgia      

 Are  you   satisfied  with  the  way  you  live ? It  means  that  you  have  to  mind   so  many  traps  on  your  way  … Don’t   lose  your  face !….

       It  is  true  ‘’ never  say  never  again  “ and   it  happened   then.  A   group  of  co-workers   put  the blame  on  me …’’If   anyone  is  blame,   it’s  you ! “  they   said.  It   must   have  been  enough  for  me  to go  crazy. But  the  opposite  of  that, I  did  all  my  best   to  keep  calm . ‘’Weird  !  why  is  not  she expressing  any  emotions ?   Is  she  out  of  her  mind  because  of  such  hard  work  ?”.  First  of  all, they  talked  about  one  important  person  who  was  involved  in  it. I  decided   to  visit  her. ‘’What’s  my  fault ? You   have  already  known  about  it’’ I  asked . Surprisingly,  she  had  no  information  … And  after  that,  just  those  people  were  in  a  pickle . So  that  I  can  say  that  there  was    method  in  my  calm madness. When  you  are  right , you  are not  alone  and   the   truth  is   a   tower   of  strength. To  be  or  not  to  be ,- this  is  out  of  the  question.



I have slept outside in my sleeping bag, not a tent.

When I say the experience, my friends are suprised and told me that I was losing the plot probably because they took sleeping inside buildings for granted.

However, I have good reasons to do so. Firstly I wanted to experience go to bed outside. I think the more I experience, the more interesting my life becomes. Next, I would like to feel natural surroundings. In fact, I saw some fireflies flying in my sleeping bag. They were so beautiful.

Thus, Though this be madness, yet there is method in't.


End of session

That’s all for now. Come back to these pages soon to find out more about William Shakespeare's life and work - and to learn a useful new English expression. In the meantime, go to our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram pages for more fun with English!

Session Vocabulary

  • For more great Shakespeare content visit our partner,The OU


    Though this be madness, yet there is method in't

    The modern version of the phrase is: there's method in his madness – or her madness, or my madness – and it means: there's a sensible reason for something that seems crazy.

    Example sentence
    My mum's desk is covered in papers. There's method in her madness, though. She knows where everything is!

    We can also say there's method to his madness.

    Mad means crazy, silly or stupid in British English. 

    In American English, mad means angry or upset.


    Extra vocabulary

    a practice of a play for later public performance

    a terrible situation, often involving suffering or death

    harm that you do to someone because they have harmed you

    Informal ways to say that someone's idea or behaviour is really strange or outrageous:

    • You're out of your mind!
    • You're absolutely bonkers!
    • You're off your rocker!
    • You're nuts!
    • You're losing it!
    • You're losing the plot!
    • You're losing your marbles!


    About Shakespeare Speaks

    Shakespeare Speaks is a co-production between:

    BBC Learning English

    The Open University


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