I am still finding my feet at the new job

I had to buy a suit for the same; the damage was pretty bad

May 22, 2023 08:30 am | Updated 10:31 pm IST

Know your English

Know your English | Photo Credit: iStockphoto

“Haven’t seen Sujatha in a while. I guess her new job is keeping her busy. Any idea if she likes it or not?”

“I met her a couple of days ago. Said she was yet to find her feet.”

“Find her feet! That’s a funny expression. Does it mean getting used to a new situation?”

“That’s right! Right now, she’s not very comfortable because she hasn’t understood everything she has to do in her new job. She needs more time to become familiar with it.”

“Once she becomes familiar, she’ll become more confident. How about this example? I moved to Hyderabad recently after having lived in Chennai for nearly 25 years. I’m still finding my feet.”

“In other words, you’re trying to get used to a new city. It may take you several months to find your feet.”

“I hope it doesn’t take me that long! How long did it take you to find your feet in your new job?”

“Unlike Sujatha, it didn’t take me very long. Found my feet quickly. Talking about Sujatha, she said that quite a few shops have laptops on sale.”

“I know! I went shopping yesterday, and after nearly four years, I bought myself a new laptop.”

“That’s good to know. What was the damage?”

“Damage? There was no damage. I bought a new laptop, not a used one.”

“The expression ‘What’s the damage?’ is frequently used by native speakers of English in informal contexts. It’s another way of asking someone how much he paid for something.”

“In other words, it means the same thing as, ‘How much did it cost?’”

“I guess you could say that. Here’s an example. The new car of yours looks very expensive. If you don’t mind my asking, what was the damage?

Thanks for replacing some of the parts in my old fridge. What’s the damage?

“Sounds good. The waiter handed me the bill while you were away. Guess how much the damage is?

“Who cares!”

“Tell me, why did you buy a laptop? Your old one was working just fine.”

“True. But like I said, I’ve had it for four years. I’m allowed to buy a few things now and then, am I not?”

“You certainly are. After all, it’s your money.”

“That’s true. By the way, is ‘am I not’ correct? Shouldn’t I have said, ‘aren’t I’?”

“In terms of grammar, both ‘am I not’ and ‘aren’t I’ are acceptable. ‘Am I not’ is considered to be rather formal, and it’s usually used in writing. Some people think it’s just a pompous way of saying ‘aren’t I’.”

“I am expected to be present at the meeting, am I not?”

“Most people prefer to use ‘aren’t I’; especially, in speech. If my plan fails, I’m going to be fired, aren’t I?”

“You certainly are. I’m very good looking, aren’t I?”

“No comment. Some people use ‘ain’t’ as the question tag. But, what you have to remember is that the word is considered to be non-standard. Careful users of the language are likely to frown on your use of the word. You can probably get away with ‘ain’t’ in informal contexts, but not in formal ones.”

“I’m not going to remember all this, am I?”

“No, you ain’t!”


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