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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

The plot thickens

Episode 220307 / 07 Mar 2022


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


This is The English We Speak with me, Jiaying…

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

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

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

So, Neil, when did this happen?

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

Ah! The plot thickens.

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

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’… 

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!

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?

Errr… someone has eaten all the biscuits?


Who would do such a thing! 

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

Ah! The plot thickens.

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

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

Bye, Neil.

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