Session 3

Listen to find out how to use an everyday English expression.
መዓልታዊ እንጥቀመሎም ናይ እንግሊዝኛ መግለጺ ሓሳባት ብኸመይ ከም እትጥቀሙሎም ንምርዳእ ተኸታተሉ።

Wayiitiwwan marii boqonnaa kana keessaa

Wayitii marii qabxii 3

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Treading on eggshells

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

  • groceries
  • shopkeeper
  • sensitive
  • offend
  • awkward

Listen to two friends Rob and Li talking about a visit to the shops. As you listen, think about these questions:

  • What had happened to the shopkeeper?
  • Why didn’t Li want to ask him about it?

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

Barreeffama agarsiisi Barreeffama dhoksi

ሰላም፣ አዚ ናይ ቋንቋ እንግሊዝኛ ኣገባብ ኣዘራርባ ንክትመሃሩ ዝሕግዝኩም መደብ English Expressions እዩ። እንቋዕ ብደሓን መጻእኩም።
ሊ ኣስቤዛ ንኽትሽምት ናብ እንዳ ድኳን ከይዳ። ኣብቲ እንዳ ድኳን ምስ በጽሐት ግን ቀሊል ከምዘይነበረ ትዛረብ፡ ‘tricky’ ኰይኑ ረኺባቶ። ‘Tricky’ እንታይ ማለት ምዃኑ‘ስከ ንፈትሽ።

Hi Li. Hey, it looks like you've been really busy.

I've just picked up some groceries from the local shop, you know - milk, eggs, bread, flour – I'm going to make a cake.

Make a cake? Oh good. So how was Mr Brown, the shopkeeper? Hasn't he just split up with his wife?

He has. It was tricky in the shop. I didn't want to say anything to him just in case I mentioned his wife. I only said: "Good morning" and he said: "Is it?"

ሚስተር ብራውን፡ እቲ ብዓል-ድኳን፡ ምስ ብዓልቲ-ቤቱ ስለ ዝተፈላላየ ‘split up’ ዝለዝገበረ፡ ሊ ስም ብዓልቲ-ቤቱ ክትጠቅስ ኣይደለየትን። ሊ ‘ድሓንዶ ሓዲርኩም?’ ምስ በለት ብዓል ድኳን ትቕብል ኣቢሎም ‘is it?’ “ከምኡ ድዩ?”  ኢሉ መሊሱላ። ኣቶ ብራውን ብድሓን ዘርፈዱ’ዶ ይመስለኩም? ኣብዚ ተኣፋፊ ኵነታት ‘sensitive situation’ ሊ ኣዝያ ክትጥንቀቕ ዝተገደደት’ያ ትመስል። ምስማዕ ንቐጽል።

Hmm, it sounds like you've been treading on eggshells.

Oh no, the shop was very clean, nothing on the floor – I don't really think he's the sort of person to throw food around!

No Li – I mean you were trying very hard not to upset him – that's what treading on eggshells means.

Oh! So it's about being nice - it's about being sensitive to the situation?


Well, I was very sensitive. But what have eggshells got to do with it?

Well, if there were eggshells on the floor literally you would have to be very careful where you put your feet!  

ሮብ ከምዝብሎ ሊ ኣብ ልዕሊ ቅራፍ እንቋቍሖ ትረግጽ ነይራ ‘treading on eggshells’፡ ምኽንያቱ ንኣቶ ብራውን ከይተሕርቕ ትጥንቀቕ ስለዝነበረት። ስለዚ ብናይ እንግሊዝኛ ኣዘራርባ “ኣብ ልዕሊ ቅራፍ እንቋቍሖ ምርጋጽ” ማለት ንኻልኦት ንኸይተሕርቕ እትገብሮ ጥንቃቐ ማለት’ዩ። መሓዙትኩም ካብቶም ዘፍቅርዎም ምስ ዝፈላለዩ፡ ነቲ ምፍልላይ ዘዛኻኽር ዘረባ ከተልዕሉሎም ኣይትደልዩን ኢኹም፡ ኣይኰነን’ድዩ?  
ሓደሓደ ኣብነታት’ስከ ንስማዕ።

I had to be so careful with what I said to my ex-girlfriend. The smallest thing made her angry: it was like treading on eggshells.

Ever since my argument with my neighbour about parking, I feel like I've been treading on eggshells.

Since my friend's father died, I don't know what to say to him: it's like treading on eggshells.

So, treading on eggshells can be awkward because you don't know what to say and you don't want to offend someone. So Rob, what should I have said to Mr Brown?

Ok, well, you could have said 'plenty more fish in the sea!'


Or erm...'I didn't like her much anyeway'.

Rob, I think that's the opposite of treading on eggshells.

Really? Anyway let me help you with your shopping…here you go… oops!

(Rob drops the eggs!)

Rob! You have dropped all the eggs on my kitchen floor.

Oh no! Now you really will be walking on eggshells!

That's not funny.

I didn't like your cakes much anyway.

ወይ ጕድ! ሮብ፡ ኣብ ክሽነ እንዳ ሊ፡ ነቶም እንቋቍሖታት ኣብ ባይታ ኣውዲቑዎም። ሕጂሞ ብሓቂ “ኣብ ልዕሊ ቅራፍ እንቋቍሖ ክረግጹ” ማለት’ዩ። ግናኸ ኣስተውዕሉ፡ “ኣብ ልዕሊ ቅራፍ እንቋቍሖ ምርጋጽ” ‘treading on eggshells’ ማለት ዘረባኹም ይዅን ግብርኹም ከየቐዪሙ ምጥንቃቕ ማለት’ዩ፣ ምናዳ’ኳ ኣብቲ ብቐሊሉ ሰብ ከተቐዪመሉ ዝከኣል ተኣፋፊ ኵነታት። ሕጂ “ኣብ ልዕሊ ቅራፍ እንቋቍሖ ክትረግጹ ዝተገደድኩምሉ እዋን ተዘኪሩኩም’ዶ? ‘treading on eggshells’።
ኣብቲ ዝቕጽል መደብ English Expressions ካልእ ትሕዝቶ ሒዝና ክንቀርብ ኢና። See you next time!


• The shopkeeper’s wife has left him.
• She didn’t want to upset the shopkeeper.

How do I use it?

‘Treading on eggshells’, uses the verb ‘tread’. In this episode the verb is being used in two ways.


Verbs can be used like nouns by adding -ing. This is called a gerund.

That’s what treading on eggshells means.

Treading on eggshells can be awkward.

Continuous aspect

Verbs can take the continuous aspect by adding -ing. This is used in tenses such as the present continuous, or the present perfect continuous.

I'm treading on eggshells around my boss at the moment, as I made a big mistake recently.

I feel like I have been treading on eggshells.

The continuous aspect is used for an activity in progress, rather than a completed action.

Treading on eggshells

3 Questions

Choose the correct answer.
ነቲ ቅኑዕ መልሲ ምረጹ።

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

Over to you!

Can you remember a time when you had to ‘tread on eggshells’? What did you have to do? 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.
ኣብቲ ጠቓሚ ቋንቋ እትመሃርሉን ናይ ምስማዕ ክለትኩም እትለማመድሉን ዝቕጽል መደብ English Expressions የራኽበና።

Session Vocabulary

  • groceries



    ምቁር ሕብስቲ