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Last updated at 13:43 GMT, Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Go round in circles

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Rob is giving Feifei a lift to the airport but he seems to be going round and round the roundabout. What does it really mean if you are going round in circles? Find out in this programme.

a carousel

Going round in circles on a carousel isn't so bad!

The script for this programme

Rob: Hello and welcome to The English We Speak with me, Rob...

Feifei: ...and me Feifei. Thanks for offering to drive me to the airport Rob.

Rob: No problem. It takes forever on the bus, so I thought I would save you some time.

Feifei: Thanks, but do you actually know the way to the airport?

Rob: Yes of course, why are you asking?

Feifei: It's just we seem to be going round and round this roundabout. Rob, shouldn't you take that turning there?

Rob: No! That's where we just came from. Maybe it's this one... no, that can't be right.

Feifei: Rob! We're going round in circles!

Rob: Hmmm...

Feifei: We aren't getting anywhere! Come on Rob, I'm going to miss my flight.

Rob: Well done Feifei, you've just explained today's phrase – 'go round in circles' – although it's nothing to do with driving. If you do something for a long time without achieving any results and you always come back to the same problem, then you can describe the situation as 'going round in circles'.

Feifei: OK, so it really means you don't make any progress?

Rob: Yes that's right. Let's hear some examples while I decide which turning to take:

  • The politicians talked for hours but they couldn't come to an agreement; they were just going round in circles.
  • I've been going round in circles trying to find the right person to talk to about getting a refund on my ticket but with no success. I give up!
  • Because we didn't have the data from the survey, we went round in circles discussing the same old problems.


Feifei: So 'going round in circles' means not getting anywhere – and Rob, we're not getting anywhere today – and I need to get to the airport.

Rob: OK, don't panic. It's definitely... errr... this way.

Feifei: Careful!

Rob: Now you see, we're not going round in circles. We're going in the right direction... we're on the right road... we're making progress.

Feifei: At last we're making progress! No more going round in circles.

Rob: Oh no... hold on...

Feifei: What is it Rob?

Rob: Another roundabout! Which way now?

Feifei: Hmm, take my advice: if you don't want to go round in circles, get organised: take the bus!

Rob: Sorry Feifei. There's another flight tomorrow.

Both: Bye.

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