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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

The plot thickens

Episode 220307 / 07 Mar 2022

Summary

Neil’s search for the office biscuit tin has become more mysterious but Jiaying has the right English phrase to describe the situation. 

Transcript  

Jiaying
This is The English We Speak with me, Jiaying…

Neil
…and me, Neil. And I’m doing a bit of detective work today?

Jiaying
Detective work! So, you’re still searching for information about the missing biscuits! It’s a bit of a mystery, isn’t it?

Neil
Yes – I think a crime has been committed. Someone has stolen the office biscuit tin and we’ve nothing to eat.

Jiaying
So, Neil, when did this happen?

Neil
It disappeared from the kitchen yesterday. But this morning, the tin had been returned, and now it’s empty!  

Jiaying
Ah! The plot thickens.

Neil
There’s no ‘plot’, Jiaying – this isn’t a story or a play – it’s real life – well, sort of.

Jiaying
I know. It’s just a saying. When we say ‘the plot thickens’ we mean the situation has become more mysterious and more complicated. So, I mean the mystery of the missing biscuit tin has become more… mysterious.

Let’s hear some more examples of this phrase, ‘the plot thickens’… 

Examples
Despite accusing him of stealing, it turns out he wasn’t around when the crime was committed – the plot thickens!

The woman I saw him with at the theatre wasn’t his wife – the plot thickens!

I thought he’d lost his job, but I still see him leave for work every morning – the plot thickens!

Jiaying
This is The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. We’re talking about the phrase ‘the plot thickens’. It’s a light-hearted way of saying that a situation has become more mysterious or complicated. So, Neil, the biscuit tin is empty – isn’t it clear what’s happened?

Neil
Errr… someone has eaten all the biscuits?

Jiaying
Yes! 

Neil
Who would do such a thing! 

Jiaying
Neil, I did see some biscuit crumbs on Rob’s desk earlier.

Neil
Ah! The plot thickens.

Jiaying
I don’t think it does, Neil. It’s obvious who ate all the biscuits! 

Neil
Rob! Right, I’m off to have a word with him. Bye.

Jiaying
Bye, Neil.

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