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Last updated at 10:59 GMT, Thursday, 20 December 2012

You scratch my back

A macaque monkey scratches another's back in a hot spring in Japan.

Grooming plays an important part of social relationships among Japanese macaque monkeys. Photo: Kazuhiro Nogi / AFP

Today's Phrase

The phrase 'you scratch my back and I'll scratch yours' means 'if you do something for me, I'll do something for you'; especially if it is something you would not have been able to do for yourself.

For example:

You know, I think we can help each other out here. I'll lend you my car on Friday if you let me borrow your camera for the wedding. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

If you could come and fix my radiators that would be really helpful. I'll do that translation exercise for you if you like. You scratch my back and I'll scratch yours.

Don't confuse it with

If you do or start something 'from scratch' it means you do it from the beginning.

I was writing my essay and forgot to save it. Guess what happened? Yes, the computer crashed and I had to start from scratch. Why does that always happen?!

Interesting fact

Japanese macaques, or 'snow monkeys', are highly social animals, with a complex set of relationships between each other. Entrance to the thermal hot springs, which can reach over 40 degrees centigrade, depends upon the social position of the monkey. Only the highest-ranking females and their infants are allowed in.

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