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Last updated at 11:03 BST, Tuesday, 04 October 2011



Heavy rain, heavy drinking, heavy sigh. The word heavy has lots of different meanings. Find out some of them with Neil and Helen in this week's programme.

Two women walking in the rain

It often rains heavily in the UK

The script for this programme

Neil: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. My name's Neil.

Helen: (Sigh) And I'm Helen.

Neil: Oh Helen, that was a very heavy sigh.

Helen: A heavy sigh? By that, you mean a big sigh?! Well, I suppose it was. It's just I've been trying to lose some weight but my diet is not working.

Neil: So how heavy are you exactly?

Helen: I'm not going to tell you my weight!

Neil: OK but my advice is to cut down on the biscuits, eat more fruit and stick to the diet!

Helen: Yeah, yeah, yeah!

Neil: Sorry, am I getting too heavy?

Helen: Heavy? You mean you're putting on weight too?

Neil: No! Heavy can have another meaning. Used informally, it can mean serious or intense. Have a listen to this:

  • Our relationship's getting a bit heavy. I think we need to go out more and have a bit more fun.

Neil: And another informal use of the word can mean difficult.

  • That was a heavy lecture! I had trouble understanding it all.

Helen: A heavy lecture – I've been to a few of them!

Neil: Me too. But Helen, we can also use the word 'heavy' in a more formal way to mean 'intense':

  • There was such a heavy fog I couldn't see where I was going.
  • The flooding was caused by days of heavy rain.
  • Heavy fighting broke out after the government's announcement.

Helen: So heavy in those examples also means intense, bad or strong. What about a heavy drinker or a heavy smoker? What does that mean?

Neil: Heavy here means to indulge to a great extent.

Helen: Well that's not me – but there is one kind of 'heavy' I do like to indulge in.

Neil: And what's that?

Helen: Heavy metal!

(Turns on heavy metal music)

Neil: (shouting) That's a little heavy on my ears. Turn it down! What a noise!


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