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Last updated at 09:41 BST, Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Haven't slept a wink


Neil had a crying child in his room and Feifei had a mosquito in hers. That's why neither of them has slept a wink. Listen to this episode of The English We Speak to learn more about this phrase.

A tired man

Are you as tired as Neil or Feifei today?

The script for this programme

Neil: (Yawning) Welcome to The English We Speak with me - a very tired Neil - and Feifei.

Feifei: (Yawning) Hi, I'm Feifei.

Neil: Oh, Feifei, I'm so tired.

Feifei: Me too. The kids?

Neil: Ah, the kids kept me awake all night. As soon as one of them went back to sleep, the other one started screaming. What's your excuse?

Feifei: A mosquito.

Neil: A mosquito?

Feifei: Yes, there was a mosquito in my room. Every time I turned the light off and tried to go to sleep I heard buzzing in my ear. I haven't slept a wink.

Neil: And I haven't slept a wink either! A wink is when you close and open one of your eyes very quickly once - usually to show friendliness or that you are having a joke with someone. It's also a verb - to wink.

Feifei: So, if you say 'I haven't slept a wink' it means that you've had so little sleep, your eye didn't even close once!

Neil: That's right. It's an exaggeration. Here are some examples:

  • A: You look terrible! What's the matter?
  • B: I haven't slept a wink. It was a really bad idea to move to a flat next to a pub.

  • A: How about a trip to the cinema tonight?
  • B: Sorry I can't. I haven't slept a wink. There were cats outside fighting all night.

Neil: So, we can use 'I haven't slept a wink' to say that we are very tired because we haven't had much sleep. (Yawns) I can't wait to get home tonight and just jump into bed... I don't know how I'm going to get through the rest of this programme, let alone the rest of the day.

Feifei: Me neither.

Neil: Nice and quiet in here, though, isn't it?

Feifei: And dark.

Neil: Do you think anyone would notice if we just...

Feifei: That's a great idea! I'll just put these two chairs together.

Neil: And I'll rest my head on this desk and... (snoring).

(Sound of babies screaming and mosquitos buzzing)

Both: Argh! Kids! Mosquitos! Is there anywhere to sleep? Argh!


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