Last updated at 18:36 GMT, Tuesday, 31 January 2012

Don't get me wrong!

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In this edition of The English We Speak, Li finds Neil's cat 'just a bit surprising' and teaches us a useful phrase to prevent people taking offence at something.

Sphynx cat

Sphynx cats don't have any fur.

The script for this programme

Li: Hello I'm Li! And joining me today is Neil – hello Neil!

(miaow)

Neil: Hello!

(miaow)

Li: Is that a cat in the basket you're holding?

Neil: It's my adorable cat, Spencer.

Li: Oh Spencer, can I see him?

Neil: Of course...

(basket opening)

Li: Ahhhh-urgh!

Neil: What do you mean, urgh?

Li: That's not a cat, it's a kind of frog-chicken!

(offended miaow)

Li: It doesn't have any fur!

Neil: Spencer certainly is a cat. He's a sphinx cat; they don't have any fur. You don't like him do you?

Li: No, no, no, don't get me wrong. He's just a bit – surprising!

Cat: Miaow?!

Li: Don't get me wrong - that's an expression you use when you're worried someone might not understand what you say or be upset by it. When I said Neil's cat looked like a frog-chicken, I didn't mean that I didn't like him; I just meant he was... a bit unusual. Here are some more examples:

  • Don't get me wrong, I do like James, I just think he can be a bit annoying sometimes.
  • Don't get me wrong, I'd love to come to your party, but I'm busy tonight.
  • That coat is very bright – but don't get me wrong, I still think you should wear it.


Neil: Well, I think Spencer is a beautiful cat.

(miaow of agreement)

Neil: And, don't get me wrong, but you don't know much about cats do you?

Li: Yes I do! I have a Norwegian forest cat. And she's very beautiful with lots of fur! But Spencer is... very strange.

(angry miaow)

Li: A kind of gremlin.

(angry hiss)

Li: And not very friendly.

(crazed miaow of anger as Spencer throws himself on Li)

Cat: Miaow, don't get me wrong, I am only being friendly!

Li: That is a lie. Get off me, you vicious gremlin! Get off! Get off!

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