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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

Gathering dust

Episode 220321 / 21 Mar 2022


Neil is trying to get fit again – but he seems to have lost his bike! Luckily, Jiaying has one that she isn’t using. However, Neil is not keen at first. Learn a new phrase with us.


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

… and I’m Neil. Hi, Jiaying. 

Why are you wearing a cycling outfit and helmet in the office?  

Well, I’ve decided to get fit again, and I love cycling. The thing is, I can’t find my bike, so I decided to wear the outfit to look fitter – without doing the exercise. 

That makes zero sense. If you can’t find your bike, you can borrow my older one. It’s just gathering dust anyway.

Ewww – no thanks, I don’t want to use it if it’s dirty and dusty.

No, Neil! I said ‘gathering dust’. We use this expression to say that something has been left for a while without being used. The bike’s actually really clean.

Well, in that case – yes please! I’d love to borrow your nice clean bike!

OK. I’ll get it for you right after these examples.

When my father sold his house, we discovered an old car in the garage that was gathering dust. It was worth a fortune. 

You can have my old pictures. They’re just gathering dust.

If you don’t want that tea service, I’ll give it to charity. No point it gathering dust here.

You’re listening to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English, and we’re talking about the expression ‘gathering dust’. We use this expression to say that something hasn’t been used for a long time.

Wow! This bike is really great! It’s so clean and fast!

That’s great, Neil. But I’m not sure you should be riding it round the office. 

I’m fine! I nearly turned professional because I was so quick. I won awards for my speed. My medals are gathering dust somewhere. The reason I didn’t turn professional is because I wasn’t very good at steering.

That sounds really dangerous. Maybe you should stop cycling now.
Neil! Neil!!! Are you OK?

I’m fine. I only forgot to turn. But I crashed into that store cupboard. And guess what?! I found my bike, just gathering dust!

Oh Neil. Never a boring day in the office with you! Bye!


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