Using Idiomatic Expressions

In the English language there are many idiomatic expressions. Some idiomatic expressions have prepositions in them. An idiomatic expression having the preposition in is:

to follow in somebody's footsteps means to have the same occupation as one's father or mother. For example:

Young Fred's father is an engineer. Fred wants to be an engineer too when he grows up. Therefore, Fred says: I want to follow in my father's footsteps. The common error usually overlooked by English users is the omission of the preposition in. It is incorrect to say follow my father's footsteps. "to follow my father's footsteps" means to look out for the sound of footsteps and follow the direction taken by my father! Therefore, you see, the omission of the preposition in makes a total change in meaning!

Another expression is on cloud nine which means feeling happy. Note that the preposition is "on" NOT "in". It is incorrect to say in cloud nine! For example: Laura was "on cloud nine" when she obtained very good marks in her tests.

Another expression is at the top of one's voice NOT on top of one's voice. at the top of one's voice means to shout/scream as loudly as you can because you are extremely happy/frightened/excited. Example:
They shouted excitedly at the top of their voices when they were talking; that was why I could hear them distinctly.
It is incorrect to say They shouted on top of their voice................ Use the preposition at and the article the and the plural form of "voice" when the sentence has a plural subject such as They/We/The boys/etc.

More examples:
She screamed at the top of her voice as if she had seen a ghost.
The children shouted at the top of their voices when they were playing in the swimming pool.

These three expressions are very common in contemporary English. I hope you can use them well in your English sentences.

By Susan L
On 12/13/2009 10:55:00 PM
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