Session 6

Listen to find out how to use an everyday English expression.
Jechoota guyyuu of ibsuuf nu fayyadu akkaataa itti dhimma baanu hubachuuf caqasi.

Wayiitiwwan marii boqonnaa kana keessaa

Wayitii marii qabxii 6

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

A can of worms

Look at the Session Vocabulary – make sure you know what these words mean:

  • an earthworm/ a worm
  • a can
  • to deal with

Listen to Finn and Feifei talking about worms. As you listen, think about these questions:

1. Is Finn interested in worms?
2. Who knows more information about worms - Finn or Feifei?

Listen to find out the answers. Then check them on the transcript below.

Barreeffama agarsiisi Barreeffama dhoksi

Yooyyaa, qophii jechoota Afaan Inglizii keessaatti of ibsuuf si fayyadan English Expressions akkasumas haara ta’n akka bartuuf si gargaarutti baga nagana dhufte.

Har’a, Afaan Inglizii keessattii of ibsuuf kan si fayyadu ‘a can of worms’ xaasaawaa raammoowwan keessa jiran jedhu ni barana. Maal jechuudha jette yaada? Wal’aaltee? Tole ittifufii caqasi.

Finii fi Feeyfeeyiin caqasi. Fin waa’ee raammoowwanii ‘worms’ waan qorachaa tureef waan argate Feeyfeeyitti himaa jira. Waan inni hubate bira gahe caqasi.

Worms are great – don't you think they're really interesting?

Erm, yeah, kind of. But what's today's phrase?

Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll come to that in a minute. But, did you know earthworms, the kind
you normally find in the soil, are both male and female in one body?

That is quite interesting.

And if you cut a worm in half – only one part of the worm will die!

Yes, the part with the fat little bump on it will survive. I knew that.

It’s fascinating, isn’t it? And earthworms can be really short – from only one millimetre – to a massive three metres!

Fin waa’ee raammoowwan dachee irraa ‘earthworms’ dubbachaa jira. Qaama tokkorratti ‘male’ dhiira, fi ‘female’ dhalaa akka ta’u danda’an hubateera. Walqixxeesitee yoo addaan kuttee, ‘survive’ lubbuun jiraachuu danda’uu jedha. Akksumas hanga meetira sadii ‘three metres’ guddachuu danda’u. Maaliif waa’ee raammoowwanii akka dubatu hubachuuf caqasi.

Finn, hang on a second, why are we talking about worms so much?

Sorry, yes, I was doing some research for today's programme. The phrase, today, is: a can of

Right. Well, 'a can of worms' is a phrase we use to describe a situation that causes a lot of
problems when you start to deal with it.

Yes, sometimes you want to deal with a problem, but you realise that by dealing with that
problem it will open up a whole set of new problems.

Fin waa’ee raammoowwanii baay’ee waan dubbiseef waantoota nama hawwatan heddu bareera. Feeyfeeyi garuu hama gaalee har’a barachaa jiru ‘a can of worms’ itti himutti sababa inni waa’ee raammowwanii hammana dubbachaa jiruuf hingalleef ture. Feeyfeeyiin haala rakko heddu fiduu danda’u ibsuuf ‘a can of worms’ fayyadamna jechuun ibsiti. Haalli isaa akka xaasaa ‘can’ akka ta’e rakkoon immoo raammoowwan ‘worms’ akka ta’anitti mee yaadi. Xaasaa sana yoo banne haala rakko sana keessa yoo of argine jedchuudha, sana booda raammoowwan xaasaa keessaa bahu, raammoowwan sana deebisanii xaasaa sanatti galchuun waan salphaa miti.Kanaafuu haala rakkoowwan garaagaraa hedduuf sisaaxilaniifi furmaata kennuuf ulfaataa ta’e ibsuuf itti fayyadamna. Jechama asiin gaditti itti fayadaman dhageefadhu. Xaasaan maal akka ta’eefi raammoowwan maal akka ta’an hubachuu dandeessaa?

When Frank asked why his brother arrived late to the party, his brother started telling Frank all about the problems in his life: his car, his health, problems with his friends… Frank realised he'd opened a can of worms.

A: Charles, have you finished writing that report about our fantastic sales figures this month?
B: No, because actually I realised our sales figures are all wrong. Someone has been giving us false information for months…
A: Oh no, what a can of worms.

Yes, well anyway – I hope everyone listening understands the phrase now. I think I'll get back
to my reading. 34,000 different kinds of worm, wow… They can live for up to 10 years!
Fascinating… They eat their own weight every day…

OK, well I think we've lost Finn there. I think I've had enough of worms for one day.

Finn waa’ee raammoowwan waan dabalataa akka hubatuuf itti dhiisna. Ati takkaa ‘a can of worms’ bantee beektaa? Maaltu ta’e? Waan hintaanetu si quunamee? Jechoota Afaan Inglizii of ibsuuf si fayyadan ‘English Expressions’ dabalataaf yeroo ittaanu walitti deebina.



1.Yes, very interested.

2.Finn knows more information about worms.


How do I use it?

When using the expression 'a can of worms' be sure to include 'a' before 'can', as 'can' is a countable noun and is usually singular here. Also, remember that 'worms' is always plural in this expression.  ‘A can of worms’ is used with the verb ‘to open’, which is a regular verb, so we add 'ed' to make the the past simple and past participle forms. Look at these examples:

Careful! You'll open a whole can of worms if you try to make any suggestions about the way Peter works. He's done things the same way for years and making any changes will just cause more problems.

I opened a can of worms when I asked my boss a simple question about the company's finances. He discovered that somebody has been lying about our expenses for months!

Cindy only went to the dentist to have one of her teeth checked, but she's opened a can of worms. The dentist says she needs to fix two other teeth, as well, and it will cost her a lot of money. 



A can of worms

3 Questions

Choose the correct answer.
Deebii sirrii ta’e fili.

Baga gammadde! Qormaata xumurteetta
Excellent! Great job! Carraa badaa! Qabxii argatte:
x / y

Over to you!

Have you ever opened ‘a can of worms’? What was the situation? What happened? Come and tell us on our Facebook group.

Join us for our next episode of English Expressions, when we will learn more useful language and practise your listening skills.
Barnoota Essential English ittaanu kan dandeettii caqasuukee ittiin shaakaltuufi qooqa barbaachisoo barannutti walitti deebina.

Session Vocabulary

  • an earthworm/ a worm
    raammoo lafaa


    a can

    to survive

    to deal with
    ittiin hojjachuuf