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Episode 19
Groundhog weatherman predicts 6 more weeks of winter
Plus, what it means to ‘suffer through’

In one of America’s strangest holidays, a groundhog predicts that winter will last six more weeks. The tradition inspired the 1993 movie “Groundhog Day” and draws large crowds to a small town in western Pennsylvania. The groundhog says we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter—his usual prediction—and we talk about what “suffer through” means.

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Transcript

  • America’s most famous weatherman came out of his underground home and said we have six more weeks of winter.

    Welcome to Plain English, the podcast that goes at the right speed for English learners. Today is February 8, 2018 and on today’s episode we’ll talk about the American tradition of Groundhog Day, where a famous rodent tells us whether we’ll have an early spring or not. And we believe it! That’s the incredible part. In the second half of the episode, I’ll show you how to use the phrasal verb “suffer through.”

    Before we get started, I wanted to remind you that we have full transcripts of every episode online. Today is Episode 19, so just go to PlainEnglish.com/19 to read along as you listen. If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, French or Chinese, you can take advantage of the tooltips, which show you instant translations of words from English to your language. But even if you speak a different language—and I know many of you do—the transcripts are helpful so you never miss a word.

    If you’d like to suggest a topic for a future episode, give me some feedback, or just say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook with the user name PlainEnglishPod, or you can send an e-mail to jeff [at] plainenglish.com.


    Groundhog Day: A strange American tradition

    America celebrates one of its strangest folkloric holidays every February 2, when a groundhog predicts the weather. And this year, like most years, the groundhog told us that we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter.

    All right, I should explain. First of all, a groundhog is a large rodent. Picture a cute, harmless beaver or raccoon and you’ll have a good idea of what a groundhog looks like. As the name suggests, they mostly live in underground burrows in the woods.

    According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow, he thinks it’s a sign that winter will continue, so he goes back into his hole to sleep for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy, then he thinks that an early spring is coming.

    There is a town in western Pennsylvania that has taken this tradition to its extreme and that town is called Punxsutawney and they have been celebrating Groundhog Day in this town since 1887. They have a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil; he’s a local celebrity. And every February 2 at about 7:30 in the morning, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (a real club) knock on his door—he has a door in his burrow—and they invite Phil to come out and predict if there will be an early spring or not.

    Now at this point you might be wondering how we humans know whether the groundhog has seen his shadow or not—and that is a good question. The answer is that the members of the groundhog club have the special ability to interpret the movements and sounds of the groundhog. So they observe him and listen to him and then the groundhog club members announce to the crowd what Phil’s prediction is.

    Wait, did I just say crowd? Yes, and I mean it. Every year, about 40,000 people go to this small town in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. I have been there. In order to experience the festivities, you have to get to town really early in the morning—four or five o’clock. You park in the Wal-Mart parking lot and find shuttle buses that take you from town to where Phil lives, a clearing in the woods called Gobbler’s Knob. It’s usually freezing cold; the year I was there was no exception. All the major news networks have camera crews and reporters there. There are people, usually students from local universities, that have been partying all night. At around 6:30 there are fireworks that announce that the festivities are about to begin. After the announcement, which comes around 7:30, everyone walks back to town to continue the party until mid-day.

    The holiday inspired the 1993 movie called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, a television weatherman from nearby Pittsburgh is sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog’s prediction. And this weatherman hates Groundhog Day, but he has to go anyway. So he does Groundhog Day and has to stay in town due to a snowstorm. And when he wakes up the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again—and he has to repeat the whole day. Then he wakes up the next morning, or what he thinks is the next morning—and it’s Groundhog Day again. And he has to relive this day over and over and over until—well, I won’t tell you. You should see the movie; it’s available to rent on Youtube, Amazon, iTunes, all the usual places. I’ll put a link to the trailer in the show notes and on the web site. [Click here for the trailer.]

    Here are some interesting facts, or, maybe not facts exactly, but interesting things about Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney: Out of 130 Groundhog Day celebrations, Phil has predicted an early spring only 18 times. And yes, it’s the same groundhog every year, all 130 years, it’s the very same groundhog, who never dies, according to the legend. Also according to the legend, his predictions are accurate 100% of the time. (USA Today, a newspaper, thinks he’s right less than half the time—but what do they know?) Although the tradition says Punxsutawney Phil lives in his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, he actually lives in a pretty nice cage in the Punxsutawney Public Library, where anyone can come by and say hello most days of the year. So if you find yourself driving through Western Pennsylvania, on February 2 or any other day, you can stop by and see America’s favorite groundhog.


    Before we get to today’s word, I wanted to say hi to Hilmi, who’s listening from Istanbul, Turkey. Hilmi says he likes the fact that the episodes are about current events and daily life. I was really glad to hear that because there are a lot of really good English podcasts about learning English, but there aren’t many that are about other things, but for people who are learning.

    Hilmi’s note also made me think about my time in Istanbul, which I really enjoyed. They say Istanbul is where the east meets the west, which really seems to be true. One thing I remember about Istanbul is a bridge that connects the old part of the city with the newer part. On the top level with the traffic there are people fishing in the water below; the lower half is for pedestrians and has seafood restaurants all along it. You can walk across the bridge and stop for a fish sandwich and look out at the water where it was probably caught. I have good memories of Istanbul, so thanks to Hilmi for your note and for reminding me of my trip to Turkey.

    Suffer through

    Today’s word is a phrasal verb: suffer through. According to my buddy Punxsutawney Phil, we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter. I’m betting that it’s going to be more than six weeks where I live; we will probably have to suffer through another eight or ten weeks of cold weather. By now you might have figured out that suffer through means to endure something; you just have to suffer while you do or experience something unpleasant.

    Here are some more examples: If you get a cold, what can you do? Nothing: you have to suffer through it. There’s no cure for the common cold, right? There’s no way to make it better except wait for it to go away. You just have to suffer through it.

    Have you ever watched a movie or sporting event that you find boring, but maybe your date or your friends really like it? What did you do? If you didn’t get up and walk out, you probably just suffered through it. You kept watching even though you wanted to leave.

    You might remember back in Episode 7, I talked about Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle. I saw an article this week saying they had to suffer through train delays on their way to an event in Wales. There was nothing they could do but suffer through the delays.


    Thanks for suffering through another episode of Plain English—I hope this one wasn’t too bad! Have a great weekend, and we’ll talk again on the upcoming Monday edition of Plain English, where we’ll talk about the protests in Russia over the upcoming election. See you then.

  • America’s most famous weatherman came out of his underground home and said we have six more weeks of winter .

    Welcome to Plain English, the podcast that goes at the right speed for English learners. Today is February 8, 2018 and on today’s episode we’ll talk about the American tradition of Groundhog Day , where a famous rodent tells us whether we’ll have an early spring or not. And we believe it! That’s the incredible part. In the second half of the episode, I’ll show you how to use the phrasal verb “suffer through.”

    Before we get started , I wanted to remind you that we have full transcripts of every episode online. Today is Episode 19, so just go to PlainEnglish.com/19 to read along as you listen . If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, French or Chinese, you can take advantage of the tooltips, which show you instant translations of words from English to your language. But even if you speak a different language—and I know many of you do—the transcripts are helpful so you never miss a word.

    If you’d like to suggest a topic for a future episode, give me some feedback , or just say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook with the user name PlainEnglishPod, or you can send an e-mail to jeff [at] plainenglish.com.


    Groundhog Day: A strange American tradition

    America celebrates one of its strangest folkloric holidays every February 2, when a groundhog predicts the weather . And this year, like most years, the groundhog told us that we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter.

    All right, I should explain . First of all, a groundhog is a large rodent . Picture a cute, harmless beaver or raccoon and you’ll have a good idea of what a groundhog looks like. As the name suggests , they mostly live in underground burrows in the woods.

    According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow , he thinks it’s a sign that winter will continue, so he goes back into his hole to sleep for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy , then he thinks that an early spring is coming.

    There is a town in western Pennsylvania that has taken this tradition to its extreme and that town is called Punxsutawney and they have been celebrating Groundhog Day in this town since 1887. They have a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil; he’s a local celebrity . And every February 2 at about 7:30 in the morning, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (a real club) knock on his door —he has a door in his burrow—and they invite Phil to come out and predict if there will be an early spring or not.

    Now at this point you might be wondering how we humans know whether the groundhog has seen his shadow or not—and that is a good question. The answer is that the members of the groundhog club have the special ability to interpret the movements and sounds of the groundhog. So they observe him and listen to him and then the groundhog club members announce to the crowd what Phil’s prediction is.

    Wait, did I just say crowd? Yes, and I mean it. Every year, about 40,000 people go to this small town in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. I have been there. In order to experience the festivities , you have to get to town really early in the morning—four or five o’clock. You park in the Wal-Mart parking lot and find shuttle buses that take you from town to where Phil lives, a clearing in the woods called Gobbler’s Knob. It’s usually freezing cold; the year I was there was no exception. All the major news networks have camera crews and reporters there. There are people, usually students from local universities, that have been partying all night. At around 6:30 there are fireworks that announce that the festivities are about to begin. After the announcement , which comes around 7:30, everyone walks back to town to continue the party until mid-day .

    The holiday inspired the 1993 movie called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, a television weatherman from nearby Pittsburgh is sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog’s prediction. And this weatherman hates Groundhog Day, but he has to go anyway. So he does Groundhog Day and has to stay in town due to a snowstorm. And when he wakes up the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again—and he has to repeat the whole day. Then he wakes up the next morning, or what he thinks is the next morning—and it’s Groundhog Day again. And he has to relive this day over and over and over until—well, I won’t tell you. You should see the movie; it’s available to rent on Youtube, Amazon, iTunes, all the usual places. I’ll put a link to the trailer in the show notes and on the web site. [Click here for the trailer.]

    Here are some interesting facts , or, maybe not facts exactly, but interesting things about Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney: Out of 130 Groundhog Day celebrations, Phil has predicted an early spring only 18 times. And yes, it’s the same groundhog every year, all 130 years, it’s the very same groundhog, who never dies, according to the legend. Also according to the legend, his predictions are accurate 100% of the time. (USA Today, a newspaper, thinks he’s right less than half the time—but what do they know?) Although the tradition says Punxsutawney Phil lives in his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, he actually lives in a pretty nice cage in the Punxsutawney Public Library, where anyone can come by and say hello most days of the year. So if you find yourself driving through Western Pennsylvania, on February 2 or any other day, you can stop by and see America’s favorite groundhog.


    Before we get to today’s word, I wanted to say hi to Hilmi, who’s listening from Istanbul, Turkey. Hilmi says he likes the fact that the episodes are about current events and daily life. I was really glad to hear that because there are a lot of really good English podcasts about learning English, but there aren’t many that are about other things, but for people who are learning .

    Hilmi’s note also made me think about my time in Istanbul, which I really enjoyed. They say Istanbul is where the east meets the west , which really seems to be true. One thing I remember about Istanbul is a bridge that connects the old part of the city with the newer part . On the top level with the traffic there are people fishing in the water below; the lower half is for pedestrians and has seafood restaurants all along it . You can walk across the bridge and stop for a fish sandwich and look out at the water where it was probably caught. I have good memories of Istanbul, so thanks to Hilmi for your note and for reminding me of my trip to Turkey.

    Suffer through

    Today’s word is a phrasal verb: suffer through. According to my buddy Punxsutawney Phil, we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter. I’m betting that it’s going to be more than six weeks where I live; we will probably have to suffer through another eight or ten weeks of cold weather. By now you might have figured out that suffer through means to endure something; you just have to suffer while you do or experience something unpleasant .

    Here are some more examples: If you get a cold , what can you do? Nothing: you have to suffer through it. There’s no cure for the common cold , right? There’s no way to make it better except wait for it to go away . You just have to suffer through it.

    Have you ever watched a movie or sporting event that you find boring , but maybe your date or your friends really like it? What did you do? If you didn’t get up and walk out, you probably just suffered through it. You kept watching even though you wanted to leave .

    You might remember back in Episode 7, I talked about Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle. I saw an article this week saying they had to suffer through train delays on their way to an event in Wales. There was nothing they could do but suffer through the delays.


    Thanks for suffering through another episode of Plain English—I hope this one wasn’t too bad! Have a great weekend, and we’ll talk again on the upcoming Monday edition of Plain English, where we’ll talk about the protests in Russia over the upcoming election . See you then.

  • America’s most famous weatherman came out of his underground home and said we have six more weeks of winter .

    Welcome to Plain English, the podcast that goes at the right speed for English learners. Today is February 8, 2018 and on today’s episode we’ll talk about the American tradition of Groundhog Day , where a famous rodent tells us whether we’ll have an early spring or not. And we believe it! That’s the incredible part. In the second half of the episode, I’ll show you how to use the phrasal verb “suffer through.”

    Before we get started , I wanted to remind you that we have full transcripts of every episode online. Today is Episode 19, so just go to PlainEnglish.com/19 to read along as you listen . If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, French or Chinese, you can take advantage of the tooltips, which show you instant translations of words from English to your language. But even if you speak a different language—and I know many of you do—the transcripts are helpful so you never miss a word.

    If you’d like to suggest a topic for a future episode, give me some feedback , or just say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook with the user name PlainEnglishPod, or you can send an e-mail to jeff [at] plainenglish.com.


    Groundhog Day: A strange American tradition

    America celebrates one of its strangest folkloric holidays every February 2, when a groundhog predicts the weather . And this year, like most years, the groundhog told us that we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter.

    All right, I should explain . First of all, a groundhog is a large rodent . Picture a cute, harmless beaver or raccoon and you’ll have a good idea of what a groundhog looks like. As the name suggests , they mostly live in underground burrows in the woods.

    According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow , he thinks it’s a sign that winter will continue, so he goes back into his hole to sleep for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy , then he thinks that an early spring is coming.

    There is a town in western Pennsylvania that has taken this tradition to its extreme and that town is called Punxsutawney and they have been celebrating Groundhog Day in this town since 1887. They have a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil; he’s a local celebrity . And every February 2 at about 7:30 in the morning, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (a real club) knock on his door —he has a door in his burrow—and they invite Phil to come out and predict if there will be an early spring or not.

    Now at this point you might be wondering how we humans know whether the groundhog has seen his shadow or not—and that is a good question. The answer is that the members of the groundhog club have the special ability to interpret the movements and sounds of the groundhog. So they observe him and listen to him and then the groundhog club members announce to the crowd what Phil’s prediction is.

    Wait, did I just say crowd? Yes, and I mean it. Every year, about 40,000 people go to this small town in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. I have been there. In order to experience the festivities , you have to get to town really early in the morning—four or five o’clock. You park in the Wal-Mart parking lot and find shuttle buses that take you from town to where Phil lives, a clearing in the woods called Gobbler’s Knob. It’s usually freezing cold; the year I was there was no exception. All the major news networks have camera crews and reporters there. There are people, usually students from local universities, that have been partying all night. At around 6:30 there are fireworks that announce that the festivities are about to begin. After the announcement , which comes around 7:30, everyone walks back to town to continue the party until mid-day .

    The holiday inspired the 1993 movie called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, a television weatherman from nearby Pittsburgh is sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog’s prediction. And this weatherman hates Groundhog Day, but he has to go anyway. So he does Groundhog Day and has to stay in town due to a snowstorm. And when he wakes up the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again—and he has to repeat the whole day. Then he wakes up the next morning, or what he thinks is the next morning—and it’s Groundhog Day again. And he has to relive this day over and over and over until—well, I won’t tell you. You should see the movie; it’s available to rent on Youtube, Amazon, iTunes, all the usual places. I’ll put a link to the trailer in the show notes and on the web site. [Click here for the trailer.]

    Here are some interesting facts , or, maybe not facts exactly, but interesting things about Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney: Out of 130 Groundhog Day celebrations, Phil has predicted an early spring only 18 times. And yes, it’s the same groundhog every year, all 130 years, it’s the very same groundhog, who never dies, according to the legend. Also according to the legend, his predictions are accurate 100% of the time. (USA Today, a newspaper, thinks he’s right less than half the time—but what do they know?) Although the tradition says Punxsutawney Phil lives in his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, he actually lives in a pretty nice cage in the Punxsutawney Public Library, where anyone can come by and say hello most days of the year. So if you find yourself driving through Western Pennsylvania, on February 2 or any other day, you can stop by and see America’s favorite groundhog.


    Before we get to today’s word, I wanted to say hi to Hilmi, who’s listening from Istanbul, Turkey. Hilmi says he likes the fact that the episodes are about current events and daily life. I was really glad to hear that because there are a lot of really good English podcasts about learning English, but there aren’t many that are about other things, but for people who are learning .

    Hilmi’s note also made me think about my time in Istanbul, which I really enjoyed. They say Istanbul is where the east meets the west , which really seems to be true. One thing I remember about Istanbul is a bridge that connects the old part of the city with the newer part . On the top level with the traffic there are people fishing in the water below; the lower half is for pedestrians and has seafood restaurants all along it . You can walk across the bridge and stop for a fish sandwich and look out at the water where it was probably caught. I have good memories of Istanbul, so thanks to Hilmi for your note and for reminding me of my trip to Turkey.

    Suffer through

    Today’s word is a phrasal verb: suffer through. According to my buddy Punxsutawney Phil, we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter. I’m betting that it’s going to be more than six weeks where I live; we will probably have to suffer through another eight or ten weeks of cold weather. By now you might have figured out that suffer through means to endure something; you just have to suffer while you do or experience something unpleasant .

    Here are some more examples: If you get a cold , what can you do? Nothing: you have to suffer through it. There’s no cure for the common cold , right? There’s no way to make it better except wait for it to go away . You just have to suffer through it.

    Have you ever watched a movie or sporting event that you find boring , but maybe your date or your friends really like it? What did you do? If you didn’t get up and walk out, you probably just suffered through it. You kept watching even though you wanted to leave .

    You might remember back in Episode 7, I talked about Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle. I saw an article this week saying they had to suffer through train delays on their way to an event in Wales. There was nothing they could do but suffer through the delays.


    Thanks for suffering through another episode of Plain English—I hope this one wasn’t too bad! Have a great weekend, and we’ll talk again on the upcoming Monday edition of Plain English, where we’ll talk about the protests in Russia over the upcoming election . See you then.

  • America’s most famous weatherman came out of his underground home and said we have six more weeks of winter .

    Welcome to Plain English, the podcast that goes at the right speed for English learners. Today is February 8, 2018 and on today’s episode we’ll talk about the American tradition of Groundhog Day , where a famous rodent tells us whether we’ll have an early spring or not. And we believe it! That’s the incredible part. In the second half of the episode, I’ll show you how to use the phrasal verb “suffer through.”

    Before we get started , I wanted to remind you that we have full transcripts of every episode online. Today is Episode 19, so just go to PlainEnglish.com/19 to read along as you listen . If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, French or Chinese, you can take advantage of the tooltips, which show you instant translations of words from English to your language. But even if you speak a different language—and I know many of you do—the transcripts are helpful so you never miss a word.

    If you’d like to suggest a topic for a future episode, give me some feedback , or just say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook with the user name PlainEnglishPod, or you can send an e-mail to jeff [at] plainenglish.com.


    Groundhog Day: A strange American tradition

    America celebrates one of its strangest folkloric holidays every February 2, when a groundhog predicts the weather . And this year, like most years, the groundhog told us that we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter.

    All right, I should explain . First of all, a groundhog is a large rodent . Picture a cute, harmless beaver or raccoon and you’ll have a good idea of what a groundhog looks like. As the name suggests , they mostly live in underground burrows in the woods.

    According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow , he thinks it’s a sign that winter will continue, so he goes back into his hole to sleep for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy , then he thinks that an early spring is coming.

    There is a town in western Pennsylvania that has taken this tradition to its extreme and that town is called Punxsutawney and they have been celebrating Groundhog Day in this town since 1887. They have a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil; he’s a local celebrity . And every February 2 at about 7:30 in the morning, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (a real club) knock on his door —he has a door in his burrow—and they invite Phil to come out and predict if there will be an early spring or not.

    Now at this point you might be wondering how we humans know whether the groundhog has seen his shadow or not—and that is a good question. The answer is that the members of the groundhog club have the special ability to interpret the movements and sounds of the groundhog. So they observe him and listen to him and then the groundhog club members announce to the crowd what Phil’s prediction is.

    Wait, did I just say crowd? Yes, and I mean it. Every year, about 40,000 people go to this small town in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. I have been there. In order to experience the festivities , you have to get to town really early in the morning—four or five o’clock. You park in the Wal-Mart parking lot and find shuttle buses that take you from town to where Phil lives, a clearing in the woods called Gobbler’s Knob. It’s usually freezing cold; the year I was there was no exception. All the major news networks have camera crews and reporters there. There are people, usually students from local universities, that have been partying all night. At around 6:30 there are fireworks that announce that the festivities are about to begin. After the announcement , which comes around 7:30, everyone walks back to town to continue the party until mid-day .

    The holiday inspired the 1993 movie called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, a television weatherman from nearby Pittsburgh is sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog’s prediction. And this weatherman hates Groundhog Day, but he has to go anyway. So he does Groundhog Day and has to stay in town due to a snowstorm. And when he wakes up the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again—and he has to repeat the whole day. Then he wakes up the next morning, or what he thinks is the next morning—and it’s Groundhog Day again. And he has to relive this day over and over and over until—well, I won’t tell you. You should see the movie; it’s available to rent on Youtube, Amazon, iTunes, all the usual places. I’ll put a link to the trailer in the show notes and on the web site. [Click here for the trailer.]

    Here are some interesting facts , or, maybe not facts exactly, but interesting things about Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney: Out of 130 Groundhog Day celebrations, Phil has predicted an early spring only 18 times. And yes, it’s the same groundhog every year, all 130 years, it’s the very same groundhog, who never dies, according to the legend. Also according to the legend, his predictions are accurate 100% of the time. (USA Today, a newspaper, thinks he’s right less than half the time—but what do they know?) Although the tradition says Punxsutawney Phil lives in his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, he actually lives in a pretty nice cage in the Punxsutawney Public Library, where anyone can come by and say hello most days of the year. So if you find yourself driving through Western Pennsylvania, on February 2 or any other day, you can stop by and see America’s favorite groundhog.


    Before we get to today’s word, I wanted to say hi to Hilmi, who’s listening from Istanbul, Turkey. Hilmi says he likes the fact that the episodes are about current events and daily life. I was really glad to hear that because there are a lot of really good English podcasts about learning English, but there aren’t many that are about other things, but for people who are learning .

    Hilmi’s note also made me think about my time in Istanbul, which I really enjoyed. They say Istanbul is where the east meets the west , which really seems to be true. One thing I remember about Istanbul is a bridge that connects the old part of the city with the newer part . On the top level with the traffic there are people fishing in the water below; the lower half is for pedestrians and has seafood restaurants all along it . You can walk across the bridge and stop for a fish sandwich and look out at the water where it was probably caught. I have good memories of Istanbul, so thanks to Hilmi for your note and for reminding me of my trip to Turkey.

    Suffer through

    Today’s word is a phrasal verb: suffer through. According to my buddy Punxsutawney Phil, we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter. I’m betting that it’s going to be more than six weeks where I live; we will probably have to suffer through another eight or ten weeks of cold weather. By now you might have figured out that suffer through means to endure something; you just have to suffer while you do or experience something unpleasant .

    Here are some more examples: If you get a cold , what can you do? Nothing: you have to suffer through it. There’s no cure for the common cold , right? There’s no way to make it better except wait for it to go away . You just have to suffer through it.

    Have you ever watched a movie or sporting event that you find boring , but maybe your date or your friends really like it? What did you do? If you didn’t get up and walk out, you probably just suffered through it. You kept watching even though you wanted to leave .

    You might remember back in Episode 7, I talked about Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle. I saw an article this week saying they had to suffer through train delays on their way to an event in Wales. There was nothing they could do but suffer through the delays.


    Thanks for suffering through another episode of Plain English—I hope this one wasn’t too bad! Have a great weekend, and we’ll talk again on the upcoming Monday edition of Plain English, where we’ll talk about the protests in Russia over the upcoming election . See you then.

  • America’s most famous weatherman came out of his underground home and said we have six more weeks of winter .

    Welcome to Plain English, the podcast that goes at the right speed for English learners. Today is February 8, 2018 and on today’s episode we’ll talk about the American tradition of Groundhog Day , where a famous rodent tells us whether we’ll have an early spring or not. And we believe it! That’s the incredible part. In the second half of the episode, I’ll show you how to use the phrasal verb “suffer through.”

    Before we get started , I wanted to remind you that we have full transcripts of every episode online. Today is Episode 19, so just go to PlainEnglish.com/19 to read along as you listen . If you speak Spanish, Portuguese, French or Chinese, you can take advantage of the tooltips, which show you instant translations of words from English to your language. But even if you speak a different language—and I know many of you do—the transcripts are helpful so you never miss a word.

    If you’d like to suggest a topic for a future episode, give me some feedback , or just say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook with the user name PlainEnglishPod, or you can send an e-mail to jeff [at] plainenglish.com.


    Groundhog Day: A strange American tradition

    America celebrates one of its strangest folkloric holidays every February 2, when a groundhog predicts the weather . And this year, like most years, the groundhog told us that we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter.

    All right, I should explain . First of all, a groundhog is a large rodent . Picture a cute, harmless beaver or raccoon and you’ll have a good idea of what a groundhog looks like. As the name suggests , they mostly live in underground burrows in the woods.

    According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of his burrow and sees his shadow , he thinks it’s a sign that winter will continue, so he goes back into his hole to sleep for six more weeks. But if the day is cloudy , then he thinks that an early spring is coming.

    There is a town in western Pennsylvania that has taken this tradition to its extreme and that town is called Punxsutawney and they have been celebrating Groundhog Day in this town since 1887. They have a groundhog called Punxsutawney Phil; he’s a local celebrity . And every February 2 at about 7:30 in the morning, members of the Punxsutawney Groundhog Club (a real club) knock on his door —he has a door in his burrow—and they invite Phil to come out and predict if there will be an early spring or not.

    Now at this point you might be wondering how we humans know whether the groundhog has seen his shadow or not—and that is a good question. The answer is that the members of the groundhog club have the special ability to interpret the movements and sounds of the groundhog. So they observe him and listen to him and then the groundhog club members announce to the crowd what Phil’s prediction is.

    Wait, did I just say crowd? Yes, and I mean it. Every year, about 40,000 people go to this small town in Pennsylvania to see Punxsutawney Phil’s prediction. I have been there. In order to experience the festivities , you have to get to town really early in the morning—four or five o’clock. You park in the Wal-Mart parking lot and find shuttle buses that take you from town to where Phil lives, a clearing in the woods called Gobbler’s Knob. It’s usually freezing cold; the year I was there was no exception. All the major news networks have camera crews and reporters there. There are people, usually students from local universities, that have been partying all night. At around 6:30 there are fireworks that announce that the festivities are about to begin. After the announcement , which comes around 7:30, everyone walks back to town to continue the party until mid-day .

    The holiday inspired the 1993 movie called Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray and Andie MacDowell. In the movie, a television weatherman from nearby Pittsburgh is sent to Punxsutawney to cover the groundhog’s prediction. And this weatherman hates Groundhog Day, but he has to go anyway. So he does Groundhog Day and has to stay in town due to a snowstorm. And when he wakes up the next morning, it’s Groundhog Day again—and he has to repeat the whole day. Then he wakes up the next morning, or what he thinks is the next morning—and it’s Groundhog Day again. And he has to relive this day over and over and over until—well, I won’t tell you. You should see the movie; it’s available to rent on Youtube, Amazon, iTunes, all the usual places. I’ll put a link to the trailer in the show notes and on the web site. [Click here for the trailer.]

    Here are some interesting facts , or, maybe not facts exactly, but interesting things about Groundhog Day in Punxsutawney: Out of 130 Groundhog Day celebrations, Phil has predicted an early spring only 18 times. And yes, it’s the same groundhog every year, all 130 years, it’s the very same groundhog, who never dies, according to the legend. Also according to the legend, his predictions are accurate 100% of the time. (USA Today, a newspaper, thinks he’s right less than half the time—but what do they know?) Although the tradition says Punxsutawney Phil lives in his burrow in Gobbler’s Knob, he actually lives in a pretty nice cage in the Punxsutawney Public Library, where anyone can come by and say hello most days of the year. So if you find yourself driving through Western Pennsylvania, on February 2 or any other day, you can stop by and see America’s favorite groundhog.


    Before we get to today’s word, I wanted to say hi to Hilmi, who’s listening from Istanbul, Turkey. Hilmi says he likes the fact that the episodes are about current events and daily life. I was really glad to hear that because there are a lot of really good English podcasts about learning English, but there aren’t many that are about other things, but for people who are learning .

    Hilmi’s note also made me think about my time in Istanbul, which I really enjoyed. They say Istanbul is where the east meets the west , which really seems to be true. One thing I remember about Istanbul is a bridge that connects the old part of the city with the newer part . On the top level with the traffic there are people fishing in the water below; the lower half is for pedestrians and has seafood restaurants all along it . You can walk across the bridge and stop for a fish sandwich and look out at the water where it was probably caught. I have good memories of Istanbul, so thanks to Hilmi for your note and for reminding me of my trip to Turkey.

    Suffer through

    Today’s word is a phrasal verb: suffer through. According to my buddy Punxsutawney Phil, we have to suffer through six more weeks of winter. I’m betting that it’s going to be more than six weeks where I live; we will probably have to suffer through another eight or ten weeks of cold weather. By now you might have figured out that suffer through means to endure something; you just have to suffer while you do or experience something unpleasant .

    Here are some more examples: If you get a cold , what can you do? Nothing: you have to suffer through it. There’s no cure for the common cold , right? There’s no way to make it better except wait for it to go away . You just have to suffer through it.

    Have you ever watched a movie or sporting event that you find boring , but maybe your date or your friends really like it? What did you do? If you didn’t get up and walk out, you probably just suffered through it. You kept watching even though you wanted to leave .

    You might remember back in Episode 7, I talked about Britain’s Prince Harry and his fiancée Meghan Markle. I saw an article this week saying they had to suffer through train delays on their way to an event in Wales. There was nothing they could do but suffer through the delays.


    Thanks for suffering through another episode of Plain English—I hope this one wasn’t too bad! Have a great weekend, and we’ll talk again on the upcoming Monday edition of Plain English, where we’ll talk about the protests in Russia over the upcoming election . See you then.



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