Phrase of the day: It’s alright for some!

This week, a friend of mine in France sent me a message via Facebook asking if I’d got a copy of a new box set that collects together all the LPs by The Pretty Things, one of my very favourite bands of all time. I replied that I’d managed to grab a free one from friends who work for the company that put the compilation out, to which he replied “I see. Well, it’s alright for some, eh?!”

As well as being impressed by his grasp of English, I was also struck by the fact that I don’t think I’ve ever consciously taught what’s actually a very useful chunk. It’s alright for some is basically a friendly way of showing that you’re jealous of something the person you’re talking do has or does. Here are two other examples I’ve encountered recently.

A million-pound bonus? Jesus! It’s alright for some, isn’t it?

You get TEN WEEKS’ holiday a year? God, it’s alright for some, eh?


It’s possible that the chunk might crop up in classroom material you’re using, but more likely that it’d need to fed in consciously either as a response to something students say – or as part of a language-focused round-up after students speaking. Here’s an example of how I could’ve introduced it in a class I recently taught. One of my students works for a big chain of hotels and was telling a couple of other students that she was off to Manchester for the weekend with her boyfriend, and they’d be staying in a give-star hotel for only £30 a night. There was much jealousy and comments like “Oh! So lucky!” were made. At this stage, you could stop the discussion and say “There’s an expression you can use in this kind of situation, where you’re a bit jealous of something a friend is doing” and then write up on the board:

We’ll be staying in this amazing five-star hotel and we’re paying thirty pounds a night.

> Seriously? Wow! It’s alright for some.

You could put students in pairs and ask them to think of five other things friends might say that would cause you to respond with this chunk.

Help out and maybe get two or three of the best ideas on to the board – slightly reworded, if needs be.

One of the lovely things about chunks like this is that there’s a real chance they’ll become part of class banter and get recycled naturally. Obviously, you can facilitate this by consciously using yourself it yourself next time you hear a student mentioning something you feel a slight pang of jealousy about!

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2 Responses

  1. Joe Martin says:

    i’m not sure about the utility of “it’s alright for some”…..however, I am surprised what chunks students gravitate towards. “Making a mountain out of a molehill” was adopted by a class as well as “it’s all for the best” this year…..the idea, adapted from another instructor, of students playing a bingo game with themselves in order to tick off a chunk that they want to adopt that week or month has also been helpful… I found myself in the past using the expression, “it’s not all unicorns and rainbows” and in the past week have heard it around the academy in conversations between students and now wince.

    • Lexicallab says:

      Hi Joe –
      Thanks for the comments. Obviously, IT’S ALRIGHT FOR SOME is a chunk that’s likely to be of slightly less utility than something like, say, I’M JUST GOING TO STAY IN AND . . . . which is why I’d say it’s an Advanced item. By the time they get to that level, they can already at least communicate – if not say completely naturally – many of the things they want to, and progress becomes much more to do with the slow accretion of items like this.

      In a sense, though, it’s of utility anyone wants to say they’re slightly jealous of someone they’re talking to. I often have Japanese students at Int or Upper-Int level who will say things like I ENVY YOU (direct L1-L2 translation) in similar situations. They’d sound much better off with this chunk instead.

      And, as you say, it’s often surprising which expressions get picked up on and re-used by a class.

      Have to say, I have never consciously ever encountered the unicorns and rainbows expression in my life!!!

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