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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

Cramp my style

Episode 220214 / 14 Feb 2022


When someone or something is stopping your from doing what you want to do, or behaving in a way you feel free, there’s something you can say! Learn that expression with us!


Hello and welcome to The English We Speak. I’m Jiaying…

…and I’m Neil. You look really busy. Is everything OK?

Yes, but I’m having a dinner party for my friends on Saturday, but I’d forgotten my parents were coming to stay this weekend.

Have you considered postponing the dinner?

No, in fact my parents were more concerned they would cramp my style.

Your style is giving you cramp? That sounds painful.

No, Neil – I said ‘cramp my style’ – which is an expression used to mean that someone or something is stopping you from doing what you want or behaving in a way that makes you feel free!

Ahh, that makes sense. Your parents were worried they would stop you having the type of party where you could be yourself. Now I understand.

Well, let’s talk more about my party after these examples.

I don’t want to cramp your style, but could you wear a shirt and tie to work rather than a T-shirt?

I had to move out of the house share. I didn’t feel free there, and my old housemates were cramping my style.

I don’t want to go to the party. I’m worried she thinks I’m uncool and that I’ll cramp her style.

You’re listening to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English, and we’re talking about the expression ‘cramp my style’. We use this expression to say that someone or something is preventing someone from behaving the way they want.

So, hang on – why didn’t I get an invite to your dinner party? Are you worried I’d cramp your style?

Errr – no, Neil. It’s just last time you in brought that parrot and it kept making inappropriate jokes. Maybe your invite got lost in the mail?

Oh – It wasn’t a real parrot though – just one of my son’s toys I like to wear on my shoulder. OK – so I’ll wait to see if my invite arrives.

Only joking. I was tricking you. I really wanted to invite you in person. You’ll be the guest of honour along with my parents! Would you like to come?

Of course – I’d love to. And I promise not to cramp your style!

I know you wouldn’t – just don’t bring the parrot. Bye!


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