Taste is an important experience for us all, and from the world of culinary arts, we have derived many expressions—metaphors that are inspired by spices and condiments, and by the various tastes that we can experience.
We looked at the word ‘salty’ recently, and learned how the word has a figurative meaning beyond the literal meaning of having too much salt. And if you thought there was only one such expression, what do you know, there are many more of them!
“I used to like my popcorn just fine, but ever since I found out how much sugar a tub of popcorn has, I’ve really soured on it.”
“Just because you’ve had a couple of bad relationships doesn’t mean you should sour on romance in general. That’s just silly.”
Meanings and Usage
When you ‘sour on’ something, you take a strong dislike to it. But there is a little more to it. If you just dislike something, and have always disliked it, you cannot say you have ‘soured on it.’ To sour on something, you must originally like the thing. In general, you use ‘sour on’ to refer to a new dislike, developed after originally liking something. The dislike can be the result of excessive exposure. For example, you might sour on mangoes after eating too many of them in a season. You might also sour on something based on new information. One might say, for example: “I used to like that NGO, but after I learned how they treat the animals they rescue, I’ve really soured on them.”
The expression is also used in the sense of having a poor opinion of something, or being critical of something. Especially in the sense of being disillusioned: you hold something in high regard, and then based on some new information, revise your opinion. Our NGO-related example above uses the expression in that sense.
Did you ever sour on something? Think about the precise reasons that led you to change your mind and develop a new dislike.
How many other expressions can you use instead of ‘sour on?’ In English? Across all the languages that you know? Spend a quick ten minutes, and make a comprehensive list.
Now review the list above. Do all expressions have the same meaning? Are they used in the same way? Can you tell which ones mean ‘having a dislike,’ and which ones refer to ‘developing a dislike?’ See if you can sort all the expressions into two categories based on meaning.
What do you know
“So they’re getting married, are they? Well, what do you know! They’ve only dated for four long years!”
“I was so sure he would score a century in his last test match and what do you know, the guy gets out for a duck!”
“When my cat went missing, we went looking for him all over the house and the colony. We searched for hours, and what do you know! My lazy cat had been sleeping on top of the fridge the whole time!”
“I waited for a bus for almost an hour. Finally I give up, get into a taxi, and what do you know, a bus promptly shows up!”
This is a very spoken English idiom, so it is often said in a slightly shortened form in a casual manner. As such, people rarely say ‘what do you know’ as four distinct words, and are more likely to say something like: ‘wadoyouknow.’ Or even: ‘whadayaknow.’
Meanings and usage
This is a really fun expression that can mean two completely opposite things based on the speaker’s tone and the overall context of the conversation.
You can use this phrase to express surprise at something: A piece of information, a set of circumstances, and so on. But the fun part is that the expression can also be used humorously, and somewhat sarcastically, to convey a lack of surprise. The examples above use the expression in both these senses.
Use the expression as often as possible for a few days; try and get as much practice as possible.
Stand in front of the mirror, and practice saying ‘what do you know’ in a casual, conversational way. Do this without putting on an accent that is not natural to you. And practice the phrase on its own as well as in actual sentences.