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The English We Speak

Intermediate level

Bitten by the bug

Episode 220627 / 27 Jun 2022


Neil’s new hobby is gardening, which he’s excited about until he realises he gets bitten by bugs! But is this the sort of bugs that Feifei is trying to tell him about? All will be explained in this episode of The English We Speak.


Hello and welcome to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. I’m Feifei…

…and hello, it’s me, ouch! ...Neil.

Are you OK?

I can’t stop itching. 

Oh dear, that’s very uncomfortable. What’s caused that? 

Well, it’s probably because I’ve started gardening – I’ve planted some flowers and I’ve started growing my own vegetables.

I’m impressed! It sounds like you’ve been bitten by the bug.

Yes, bugs in the garden – that’s what’s causing me to itch. Ouch! 

Probably, but I wasn’t referring to the actual bugs! When you are ‘bitten by the bug’, it means you have become very interested and excited in doing something. We’re not actually being bitten by a bug! But in your case, Neil, it looks like you’ve been bitten by both types of bugs!

Yep. Can we have some examples, please?

Ballroom dancing is back in fashion and Catherina’s been bitten by the bug – she’s bought a sequin dress to wear at her lessons.

Lyn’s been bitten by the fitness bug – he spends hours at the gym every day.

I’ve been bitten by the travel bug – I’m always looking for new destinations to visit.

You’re listening to The English We Speak from BBC Learning English. I’ve been explaining the phrase ‘to be bitten by the bug’, which means to become interested and excited in doing something. So, it’s great that you’ve become interested in gardening, Neil.

Thanks – but not great if bugs are going to bite me every time I go into the garden.

Maybe it’s not bugs. I’ve heard that poison ivy can cause severe itching.

Oh no, I don’t like the sound of that. Hmm, maybe gardening isn’t for me. Can I be ‘unbitten by the bug’?

No, Neil. But I know what you mean.

Right, I’m off to buy some cream to soothe my itches. Bye.

Bye, Neil.

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