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Episode 20
Russian activist arrested at protest
Plus, the English phrase ‘turn out’

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was arrested on his way to a rally in Moscow. Navalny is the leader of a movement to boycott the upcoming presidential election in March. He wanted to be a candidate, but was barred due to a conviction that was widely considered to be political. Will his supporters vote against Putin or boycott the election? Plus, we talk about how to use “turn out” to describe how many people attend an event or participate in an election.

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Transcript

  • The opposition leader in Russia was violently arrested at a protest in Moscow.

    Hi everyone, this is Jeff and I’d like to welcome you to Plain English for Monday, February 12, 2018. Plain English is a new podcast that goes at just the right speed for English learners. If you’re new to the program, check out the web site at PlainEnglish.com and you’ll see the transcripts for every episode. The transcripts include instant translations of important words into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and French. So if you speak any of those languages, I know you’ll like the translations on the web site. And even if you don’t, the transcripts are a great way to make sure you catch every word as you listen. This is episode 20, so the transcript is at PlainEnglish.com/20


    Protests in Russia

    Protests are breaking out in Russia over the uncompetitive nature of this year’s presidential election. And the country’s rough handling of the leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, at a protest in Moscow, seemed to confirm what many people have been saying. Navalny is the most organized and the most popular opponent of the current government. He was prohibited from running in the upcoming election, and has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

    Last week, he organized a protest in Moscow for his supporters, and was promptly arrested. Videos show police rushing toward Navalny, wrestling him to the ground, and throwing him into a police van. Afterward, he said he was arrested but released without charges; he will, however, have to go to court sometime in the future. Over 250 other protesters were also arrested in rallies that took place in about 100 towns and cities across the country. In the Moscow protest, people held signs saying “They’ve stolen the election from us” and “Elections without Navalny are fake.”

    The next presidential election will be on March 18 and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily. Although there will be an election on March 18, most independent observers and experts don’t think the election will be a legitimate contest. Harassing and ultimately barring the opposition leader from running is a sure sign that the election in March won’t be much more than a rubber stamp on Putin’s presidency. The opposition has a tough choice to make; they can either turn out to vote in high numbers as a show of strength, or they can boycott the election and hope to reduce the election’s legitimacy in the eyes of outsiders. This is the same unfortunate choice that opposition leaders routinely have to make in Venezuela.

    Navalny was prohibited from running because he was convicted of embezzlement and corruption, charges he says were politically motivated. Outside agencies, including the European Court of Human Rights, have cast doubt on the legitimacy of those convictions. Russia’s central election commission in December ruled that Navalny was ineligible to run. Navalny immediately asked his supporters to boycott the election, and the protests recently have been in support of the boycott.

    Alexey Navalny is a 41-year old lawyer who has been active in protesting against corruption and the rule of Vladimir Putin for years. He is most famous for his blog, on which he issued detailed reports of corruption among top government officials. His activism has earned him a lot of international media attention, but also attention of the Russian authorities. He has been convicted twice of major crimes and given long prison sentences, but the prison sentences were suspended—meaning he didn’t have to serve them. His brother, however, did have to serve a prison sentence. Recently, the government raided his offices under the pretext of a bomb threat, and arrested two of his supporters inside.

    A lot of Navalny’s supporters are younger; many of them have lived most or even all of their lives under Putin’s rule and are anxious for a change in leadership. The protests across the country are considered to be widespread, meaning that they’re taking place in many locations, but they’re not considered to be as intense as the protests Navalny organized last year.

    Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, then prime minister until 2012, when he became president again. He is now running for his second consecutive term. If he wins, as is widely expected, his term would extend to 2024, a full 24 years since he initially came to power. His supporters say he is an iconic figure in Russia and has restored Russia’s economic and political influence in the world.


    Before we start on today’s phrasal verb, I wanted to tell you about the e-mail list that we keep here at Plain English. Every time a new show comes out, we send an e-mail with links to listen and a description of the main topic. But I just started two more things on the e-mail list that might interest you. For every episode, I’m going to include links to some of the articles I use to prepare the show. That way, if a topic is interesting to you, you can read some more about it in a native English publication. The other thing I’m including is an explanation of second important word or phrase for each episode. I often have two or even three words I want to highlight, but I only include one in the audio version. So the runner up, that second word I didn’t talk about, that one makes it into the e-mail about the show.

    So if this sounds like something that would be interesting to you, then go to PlainEnglish.com/mail , really simple to remember, PlainEnglish.com/mail, and you’ll be signed up to get these emails each time a new show comes out on Monday and Thursday. PlainEnglish.com/Mail.

    Turn out

    Okay, today we’re going to talk about the phrasal verb “turn out,” and its close cousin, the noun, “turnout.” Let’s start with “turn out” the phrasal verb. Before I start, I should warn you that “turn out” has a lot of different meanings; there are about four or five common ways to use “turn out,” but we’re going to talk about just one of them today. Earlier in the program, you heard that the opposition leaders in Russia can choose to boycott the election, or encourage their supporters to turn out in large numbers. In this instance, turn out means to show up, or to present yourself at a big event.

    Let me give you a few examples. In the 2016 presidential election in the United States, 139 million people turned out to vote, the most ever. That means 139 million people went to vote. Remember on Thursday we talked about Groundhog Day? When I went to Punxsutawney, about 40,000 people turned out to see the groundhog on February 2. Last Sunday, the Super Bowl took place in Minnesota, and about 50,000 people turned out to see the game at the stadium, and thousands more turned out to party outside the stadium. So you can see here that “turn out” refers to people coming out to an event like an election, sporting event, or festivity.

    Now let’s talk about “turnout,” which is just one word. This refers to the quantity of people who turned out for a particular event. Here are a few ways you can use it. Voter turnout in the 2016 American presidential election was strong, but it wasn’t as strong as the turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama first ran for president. Voter turnout usually means the percentage of eligible people who actually vote.

    Imagine your friend has a party, but you can’t go because you have other plans. You might ask your friend the next day, “how was the turnout?” That means, did a lot of people come? The Olympics are coming up and it’s common in the weeks ahead to wonder what the turnout will be like. How many people are going to go to each event? If the turnout is low, then it’s embarrassing for the Olympics and for the host country; they don’t want a lot of empty seats on television. Olympic organizers are hoping that a lot of people turn out to see the events in person.


    Thanks for listening to Plain English this week. I love hearing from listeners, so if you’d like to say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook at PlainEnglishPod. You can also send an email to jeff [at] plainenglish.com. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people around the world who listen. And don’t forget to sign up for the emails every Monday and Thursday—just go to PlainEnglish.com/mail to sign up. We’ll be back on Thursday with a new episode. Like always, thanks for listening. See you next time.

  • The opposition leader in Russia was violently arrested at a protest in Moscow.

    Hi everyone, this is Jeff and I’d like to welcome you to Plain English for Monday, February 12, 2018. Plain English is a new podcast that goes at just the right speed for English learners. If you’re new to the program, check out the web site at PlainEnglish.com and you’ll see the transcripts for every episode. The transcripts include instant translations of important words into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and French. So if you speak any of those languages, I know you’ll like the translations on the web site. And even if you don’t, the transcripts are a great way to make sure you catch every word as you listen. This is episode 20, so the transcript is at PlainEnglish.com/20


    Protests in Russia

    Protests are breaking out in Russia over the uncompetitive nature of this year’s presidential election . And the country’s rough handling of the leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, at a protest in Moscow, seemed to confirm what many people have been saying. Navalny is the most organized and the most popular opponent of the current government. He was prohibited from running in the upcoming election, and has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

    Last week, he organized a protest in Moscow for his supporters, and was promptly arrested. Videos show police rushing toward Navalny, wrestling him to the ground , and throwing him into a police van. Afterward , he said he was arrested but released without charges ; he will, however, have to go to court sometime in the future. Over 250 other protesters were also arrested in rallies that took place in about 100 towns and cities across the country. In the Moscow protest, people held signs saying “They’ve stolen the election from us” and “Elections without Navalny are fake .”

    The next presidential election will be on March 18 and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily . Although there will be an election on March 18, most independent observers and experts don’t think the election will be a legitimate contest . Harassing and ultimately barring the opposition leader from running is a sure sign that the election in March won’t be much more than a rubber stamp on Putin’s presidency. The opposition has a tough choice to make; they can either turn out to vote in high numbers as a show of strength , or they can boycott the election and hope to reduce the election’s legitimacy in the eyes of outsiders. This is the same unfortunate choice that opposition leaders routinely have to make in Venezuela.

    Navalny was prohibited from running because he was convicted of embezzlement and corruption , charges he says were politically motivated . Outside agencies, including the European Court of Human Rights, have cast doubt on the legitimacy of those convictions. Russia’s central election commission in December ruled that Navalny was ineligible to run. Navalny immediately asked his supporters to boycott the election, and the protests recently have been in support of the boycott.

    Alexey Navalny is a 41-year old lawyer who has been active in protesting against corruption and the rule of Vladimir Putin for years. He is most famous for his blog, on which he issued detailed reports of corruption among top government officials . His activism has earned him a lot of international media attention, but also attention of the Russian authorities. He has been convicted twice of major crimes and given long prison sentences, but the prison sentences were suspended —meaning he didn’t have to serve them. His brother, however , did have to serve a prison sentence. Recently, the government raided his offices under the pretext of a bomb threat , and arrested two of his supporters inside .

    A lot of Navalny’s supporters are younger ; many of them have lived most or even all of their lives under Putin’s rule and are anxious for a change in leadership. The protests across the country are considered to be widespread , meaning that they’re taking place in many locations , but they’re not considered to be as intense as the protests Navalny organized last year.

    Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, then prime minister until 2012, when he became president again. He is now running for his second consecutive term . If he wins, as is widely expected, his term would extend to 2024, a full 24 years since he initially came to power. His supporters say he is an iconic figure in Russia and has restored Russia’s economic and political influence in the world.


    Before we start on today’s phrasal verb, I wanted to tell you about the e-mail list that we keep here at Plain English. Every time a new show comes out, we send an e-mail with links to listen and a description of the main topic . But I just started two more things on the e-mail list that might interest you. For every episode, I’m going to include links to some of the articles I use to prepare the show. That way, if a topic is interesting to you, you can read some more about it in a native English publication . The other thing I’m including is an explanation of second important word or phrase for each episode. I often have two or even three words I want to highlight, but I only include one in the audio version. So the runner up, that second word I didn’t talk about, that one makes it into the e-mail about the show.

    So if this sounds like something that would be interesting to you, then go to PlainEnglish.com/mail , really simple to remember , PlainEnglish.com/mail, and you’ll be signed up to get these emails each time a new show comes out on Monday and Thursday. PlainEnglish.com/Mail.

    Turn out

    Okay, today we’re going to talk about the phrasal verb “turn out,” and its close cousin, the noun , “turnout.” Let’s start with “turn out” the phrasal verb. Before I start, I should warn you that “turn out” has a lot of different meanings; there are about four or five common ways to use “turn out,” but we’re going to talk about just one of them today. Earlier in the program, you heard that the opposition leaders in Russia can choose to boycott the election, or encourage their supporters to turn out in large numbers . In this instance , turn out means to show up , or to present yourself at a big event.

    Let me give you a few examples. In the 2016 presidential election in the United States, 139 million people turned out to vote, the most ever . That means 139 million people went to vote. Remember on Thursday we talked about Groundhog Day? When I went to Punxsutawney, about 40,000 people turned out to see the groundhog on February 2. Last Sunday, the Super Bowl took place in Minnesota, and about 50,000 people turned out to see the game at the stadium, and thousands more turned out to party outside the stadium. So you can see here that “turn out” refers to people coming out to an event like an election, sporting event, or festivity .

    Now let’s talk about “turnout,” which is just one word. This refers to the quantity of people who turned out for a particular event. Here are a few ways you can use it. Voter turnout in the 2016 American presidential election was strong, but it wasn’t as strong as the turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama first ran for president. Voter turnout usually means the percentage of eligible people who actually vote.

    Imagine your friend has a party, but you can’t go because you have other plans. You might ask your friend the next day, “how was the turnout?” That means, did a lot of people come? The Olympics are coming up and it’s common in the weeks ahead to wonder what the turnout will be like. How many people are going to go to each event? If the turnout is low, then it’s embarrassing for the Olympics and for the host country; they don’t want a lot of empty seats on television. Olympic organizers are hoping that a lot of people turn out to see the events in person.


    Thanks for listening to Plain English this week. I love hearing from listeners, so if you’d like to say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook at PlainEnglishPod. You can also send an email to jeff [at] plainenglish.com. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people around the world who listen. And don’t forget to sign up for the emails every Monday and Thursday—just go to PlainEnglish.com/mail to sign up. We’ll be back on Thursday with a new episode. Like always, thanks for listening. See you next time.

  • The opposition leader in Russia was violently arrested at a protest in Moscow.

    Hi everyone, this is Jeff and I’d like to welcome you to Plain English for Monday, February 12, 2018. Plain English is a new podcast that goes at just the right speed for English learners. If you’re new to the program, check out the web site at PlainEnglish.com and you’ll see the transcripts for every episode. The transcripts include instant translations of important words into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and French. So if you speak any of those languages, I know you’ll like the translations on the web site. And even if you don’t, the transcripts are a great way to make sure you catch every word as you listen. This is episode 20, so the transcript is at PlainEnglish.com/20


    Protests in Russia

    Protests are breaking out in Russia over the uncompetitive nature of this year’s presidential election . And the country’s rough handling of the leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, at a protest in Moscow, seemed to confirm what many people have been saying. Navalny is the most organized and the most popular opponent of the current government. He was prohibited from running in the upcoming election, and has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

    Last week, he organized a protest in Moscow for his supporters, and was promptly arrested. Videos show police rushing toward Navalny, wrestling him to the ground , and throwing him into a police van. Afterward , he said he was arrested but released without charges ; he will, however, have to go to court sometime in the future. Over 250 other protesters were also arrested in rallies that took place in about 100 towns and cities across the country. In the Moscow protest, people held signs saying “They’ve stolen the election from us” and “Elections without Navalny are fake .”

    The next presidential election will be on March 18 and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily . Although there will be an election on March 18, most independent observers and experts don’t think the election will be a legitimate contest . Harassing and ultimately barring the opposition leader from running is a sure sign that the election in March won’t be much more than a rubber stamp on Putin’s presidency. The opposition has a tough choice to make; they can either turn out to vote in high numbers as a show of strength , or they can boycott the election and hope to reduce the election’s legitimacy in the eyes of outsiders. This is the same unfortunate choice that opposition leaders routinely have to make in Venezuela.

    Navalny was prohibited from running because he was convicted of embezzlement and corruption , charges he says were politically motivated . Outside agencies, including the European Court of Human Rights, have cast doubt on the legitimacy of those convictions. Russia’s central election commission in December ruled that Navalny was ineligible to run. Navalny immediately asked his supporters to boycott the election, and the protests recently have been in support of the boycott.

    Alexey Navalny is a 41-year old lawyer who has been active in protesting against corruption and the rule of Vladimir Putin for years. He is most famous for his blog, on which he issued detailed reports of corruption among top government officials . His activism has earned him a lot of international media attention, but also attention of the Russian authorities. He has been convicted twice of major crimes and given long prison sentences, but the prison sentences were suspended —meaning he didn’t have to serve them. His brother, however , did have to serve a prison sentence. Recently, the government raided his offices under the pretext of a bomb threat , and arrested two of his supporters inside .

    A lot of Navalny’s supporters are younger ; many of them have lived most or even all of their lives under Putin’s rule and are anxious for a change in leadership. The protests across the country are considered to be widespread , meaning that they’re taking place in many locations , but they’re not considered to be as intense as the protests Navalny organized last year.

    Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, then prime minister until 2012, when he became president again. He is now running for his second consecutive term . If he wins, as is widely expected, his term would extend to 2024, a full 24 years since he initially came to power. His supporters say he is an iconic figure in Russia and has restored Russia’s economic and political influence in the world.


    Before we start on today’s phrasal verb, I wanted to tell you about the e-mail list that we keep here at Plain English. Every time a new show comes out, we send an e-mail with links to listen and a description of the main topic . But I just started two more things on the e-mail list that might interest you. For every episode, I’m going to include links to some of the articles I use to prepare the show. That way, if a topic is interesting to you, you can read some more about it in a native English publication . The other thing I’m including is an explanation of second important word or phrase for each episode. I often have two or even three words I want to highlight, but I only include one in the audio version. So the runner up, that second word I didn’t talk about, that one makes it into the e-mail about the show.

    So if this sounds like something that would be interesting to you, then go to PlainEnglish.com/mail , really simple to remember , PlainEnglish.com/mail, and you’ll be signed up to get these emails each time a new show comes out on Monday and Thursday. PlainEnglish.com/Mail.

    Turn out

    Okay, today we’re going to talk about the phrasal verb “turn out,” and its close cousin, the noun , “turnout.” Let’s start with “turn out” the phrasal verb. Before I start, I should warn you that “turn out” has a lot of different meanings; there are about four or five common ways to use “turn out,” but we’re going to talk about just one of them today. Earlier in the program, you heard that the opposition leaders in Russia can choose to boycott the election, or encourage their supporters to turn out in large numbers . In this instance , turn out means to show up , or to present yourself at a big event.

    Let me give you a few examples. In the 2016 presidential election in the United States, 139 million people turned out to vote, the most ever . That means 139 million people went to vote. Remember on Thursday we talked about Groundhog Day? When I went to Punxsutawney, about 40,000 people turned out to see the groundhog on February 2. Last Sunday, the Super Bowl took place in Minnesota, and about 50,000 people turned out to see the game at the stadium, and thousands more turned out to party outside the stadium. So you can see here that “turn out” refers to people coming out to an event like an election, sporting event, or festivity .

    Now let’s talk about “turnout,” which is just one word. This refers to the quantity of people who turned out for a particular event. Here are a few ways you can use it. Voter turnout in the 2016 American presidential election was strong, but it wasn’t as strong as the turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama first ran for president. Voter turnout usually means the percentage of eligible people who actually vote.

    Imagine your friend has a party, but you can’t go because you have other plans. You might ask your friend the next day, “how was the turnout?” That means, did a lot of people come? The Olympics are coming up and it’s common in the weeks ahead to wonder what the turnout will be like. How many people are going to go to each event? If the turnout is low, then it’s embarrassing for the Olympics and for the host country; they don’t want a lot of empty seats on television. Olympic organizers are hoping that a lot of people turn out to see the events in person.


    Thanks for listening to Plain English this week. I love hearing from listeners, so if you’d like to say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook at PlainEnglishPod. You can also send an email to jeff [at] plainenglish.com. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people around the world who listen. And don’t forget to sign up for the emails every Monday and Thursday—just go to PlainEnglish.com/mail to sign up. We’ll be back on Thursday with a new episode. Like always, thanks for listening. See you next time.

  • The opposition leader in Russia was violently arrested at a protest in Moscow.

    Hi everyone, this is Jeff and I’d like to welcome you to Plain English for Monday, February 12, 2018. Plain English is a new podcast that goes at just the right speed for English learners. If you’re new to the program, check out the web site at PlainEnglish.com and you’ll see the transcripts for every episode. The transcripts include instant translations of important words into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and French. So if you speak any of those languages, I know you’ll like the translations on the web site. And even if you don’t, the transcripts are a great way to make sure you catch every word as you listen. This is episode 20, so the transcript is at PlainEnglish.com/20


    Protests in Russia

    Protests are breaking out in Russia over the uncompetitive nature of this year’s presidential election . And the country’s rough handling of the leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, at a protest in Moscow, seemed to confirm what many people have been saying. Navalny is the most organized and the most popular opponent of the current government. He was prohibited from running in the upcoming election, and has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

    Last week, he organized a protest in Moscow for his supporters, and was promptly arrested. Videos show police rushing toward Navalny, wrestling him to the ground , and throwing him into a police van. Afterward , he said he was arrested but released without charges ; he will, however, have to go to court sometime in the future. Over 250 other protesters were also arrested in rallies that took place in about 100 towns and cities across the country. In the Moscow protest, people held signs saying “They’ve stolen the election from us” and “Elections without Navalny are fake .”

    The next presidential election will be on March 18 and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily . Although there will be an election on March 18, most independent observers and experts don’t think the election will be a legitimate contest . Harassing and ultimately barring the opposition leader from running is a sure sign that the election in March won’t be much more than a rubber stamp on Putin’s presidency. The opposition has a tough choice to make; they can either turn out to vote in high numbers as a show of strength , or they can boycott the election and hope to reduce the election’s legitimacy in the eyes of outsiders. This is the same unfortunate choice that opposition leaders routinely have to make in Venezuela.

    Navalny was prohibited from running because he was convicted of embezzlement and corruption , charges he says were politically motivated . Outside agencies, including the European Court of Human Rights, have cast doubt on the legitimacy of those convictions. Russia’s central election commission in December ruled that Navalny was ineligible to run. Navalny immediately asked his supporters to boycott the election, and the protests recently have been in support of the boycott.

    Alexey Navalny is a 41-year old lawyer who has been active in protesting against corruption and the rule of Vladimir Putin for years. He is most famous for his blog, on which he issued detailed reports of corruption among top government officials . His activism has earned him a lot of international media attention, but also attention of the Russian authorities. He has been convicted twice of major crimes and given long prison sentences, but the prison sentences were suspended —meaning he didn’t have to serve them. His brother, however , did have to serve a prison sentence. Recently, the government raided his offices under the pretext of a bomb threat , and arrested two of his supporters inside .

    A lot of Navalny’s supporters are younger ; many of them have lived most or even all of their lives under Putin’s rule and are anxious for a change in leadership. The protests across the country are considered to be widespread , meaning that they’re taking place in many locations , but they’re not considered to be as intense as the protests Navalny organized last year.

    Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, then prime minister until 2012, when he became president again. He is now running for his second consecutive term . If he wins, as is widely expected, his term would extend to 2024, a full 24 years since he initially came to power. His supporters say he is an iconic figure in Russia and has restored Russia’s economic and political influence in the world.


    Before we start on today’s phrasal verb, I wanted to tell you about the e-mail list that we keep here at Plain English. Every time a new show comes out, we send an e-mail with links to listen and a description of the main topic . But I just started two more things on the e-mail list that might interest you. For every episode, I’m going to include links to some of the articles I use to prepare the show. That way, if a topic is interesting to you, you can read some more about it in a native English publication . The other thing I’m including is an explanation of second important word or phrase for each episode. I often have two or even three words I want to highlight, but I only include one in the audio version. So the runner up, that second word I didn’t talk about, that one makes it into the e-mail about the show.

    So if this sounds like something that would be interesting to you, then go to PlainEnglish.com/mail , really simple to remember , PlainEnglish.com/mail, and you’ll be signed up to get these emails each time a new show comes out on Monday and Thursday. PlainEnglish.com/Mail.

    Turn out

    Okay, today we’re going to talk about the phrasal verb “turn out,” and its close cousin, the noun , “turnout.” Let’s start with “turn out” the phrasal verb. Before I start, I should warn you that “turn out” has a lot of different meanings; there are about four or five common ways to use “turn out,” but we’re going to talk about just one of them today. Earlier in the program, you heard that the opposition leaders in Russia can choose to boycott the election, or encourage their supporters to turn out in large numbers . In this instance , turn out means to show up , or to present yourself at a big event.

    Let me give you a few examples. In the 2016 presidential election in the United States, 139 million people turned out to vote, the most ever . That means 139 million people went to vote. Remember on Thursday we talked about Groundhog Day? When I went to Punxsutawney, about 40,000 people turned out to see the groundhog on February 2. Last Sunday, the Super Bowl took place in Minnesota, and about 50,000 people turned out to see the game at the stadium, and thousands more turned out to party outside the stadium. So you can see here that “turn out” refers to people coming out to an event like an election, sporting event, or festivity .

    Now let’s talk about “turnout,” which is just one word. This refers to the quantity of people who turned out for a particular event. Here are a few ways you can use it. Voter turnout in the 2016 American presidential election was strong, but it wasn’t as strong as the turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama first ran for president. Voter turnout usually means the percentage of eligible people who actually vote.

    Imagine your friend has a party, but you can’t go because you have other plans. You might ask your friend the next day, “how was the turnout?” That means, did a lot of people come? The Olympics are coming up and it’s common in the weeks ahead to wonder what the turnout will be like. How many people are going to go to each event? If the turnout is low, then it’s embarrassing for the Olympics and for the host country; they don’t want a lot of empty seats on television. Olympic organizers are hoping that a lot of people turn out to see the events in person.


    Thanks for listening to Plain English this week. I love hearing from listeners, so if you’d like to say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook at PlainEnglishPod. You can also send an email to jeff [at] plainenglish.com. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people around the world who listen. And don’t forget to sign up for the emails every Monday and Thursday—just go to PlainEnglish.com/mail to sign up. We’ll be back on Thursday with a new episode. Like always, thanks for listening. See you next time.

  • The opposition leader in Russia was violently arrested at a protest in Moscow.

    Hi everyone, this is Jeff and I’d like to welcome you to Plain English for Monday, February 12, 2018. Plain English is a new podcast that goes at just the right speed for English learners. If you’re new to the program, check out the web site at PlainEnglish.com and you’ll see the transcripts for every episode. The transcripts include instant translations of important words into Spanish, Portuguese, Chinese and French. So if you speak any of those languages, I know you’ll like the translations on the web site. And even if you don’t, the transcripts are a great way to make sure you catch every word as you listen. This is episode 20, so the transcript is at PlainEnglish.com/20


    Protests in Russia

    Protests are breaking out in Russia over the uncompetitive nature of this year’s presidential election . And the country’s rough handling of the leading opposition figure, Alexey Navalny, at a protest in Moscow, seemed to confirm what many people have been saying. Navalny is the most organized and the most popular opponent of the current government. He was prohibited from running in the upcoming election, and has called on his supporters to boycott the vote.

    Last week, he organized a protest in Moscow for his supporters, and was promptly arrested. Videos show police rushing toward Navalny, wrestling him to the ground , and throwing him into a police van. Afterward , he said he was arrested but released without charges ; he will, however, have to go to court sometime in the future. Over 250 other protesters were also arrested in rallies that took place in about 100 towns and cities across the country. In the Moscow protest, people held signs saying “They’ve stolen the election from us” and “Elections without Navalny are fake .”

    The next presidential election will be on March 18 and Russian President Vladimir Putin is expected to win easily . Although there will be an election on March 18, most independent observers and experts don’t think the election will be a legitimate contest . Harassing and ultimately barring the opposition leader from running is a sure sign that the election in March won’t be much more than a rubber stamp on Putin’s presidency. The opposition has a tough choice to make; they can either turn out to vote in high numbers as a show of strength , or they can boycott the election and hope to reduce the election’s legitimacy in the eyes of outsiders. This is the same unfortunate choice that opposition leaders routinely have to make in Venezuela.

    Navalny was prohibited from running because he was convicted of embezzlement and corruption , charges he says were politically motivated . Outside agencies, including the European Court of Human Rights, have cast doubt on the legitimacy of those convictions. Russia’s central election commission in December ruled that Navalny was ineligible to run. Navalny immediately asked his supporters to boycott the election, and the protests recently have been in support of the boycott.

    Alexey Navalny is a 41-year old lawyer who has been active in protesting against corruption and the rule of Vladimir Putin for years. He is most famous for his blog, on which he issued detailed reports of corruption among top government officials . His activism has earned him a lot of international media attention, but also attention of the Russian authorities. He has been convicted twice of major crimes and given long prison sentences, but the prison sentences were suspended —meaning he didn’t have to serve them. His brother, however , did have to serve a prison sentence. Recently, the government raided his offices under the pretext of a bomb threat , and arrested two of his supporters inside .

    A lot of Navalny’s supporters are younger ; many of them have lived most or even all of their lives under Putin’s rule and are anxious for a change in leadership. The protests across the country are considered to be widespread , meaning that they’re taking place in many locations , but they’re not considered to be as intense as the protests Navalny organized last year.

    Putin was president from 2000 to 2008, then prime minister until 2012, when he became president again. He is now running for his second consecutive term . If he wins, as is widely expected, his term would extend to 2024, a full 24 years since he initially came to power. His supporters say he is an iconic figure in Russia and has restored Russia’s economic and political influence in the world.


    Before we start on today’s phrasal verb, I wanted to tell you about the e-mail list that we keep here at Plain English. Every time a new show comes out, we send an e-mail with links to listen and a description of the main topic . But I just started two more things on the e-mail list that might interest you. For every episode, I’m going to include links to some of the articles I use to prepare the show. That way, if a topic is interesting to you, you can read some more about it in a native English publication . The other thing I’m including is an explanation of second important word or phrase for each episode. I often have two or even three words I want to highlight, but I only include one in the audio version. So the runner up, that second word I didn’t talk about, that one makes it into the e-mail about the show.

    So if this sounds like something that would be interesting to you, then go to PlainEnglish.com/mail , really simple to remember , PlainEnglish.com/mail, and you’ll be signed up to get these emails each time a new show comes out on Monday and Thursday. PlainEnglish.com/Mail.

    Turn out

    Okay, today we’re going to talk about the phrasal verb “turn out,” and its close cousin, the noun , “turnout.” Let’s start with “turn out” the phrasal verb. Before I start, I should warn you that “turn out” has a lot of different meanings; there are about four or five common ways to use “turn out,” but we’re going to talk about just one of them today. Earlier in the program, you heard that the opposition leaders in Russia can choose to boycott the election, or encourage their supporters to turn out in large numbers . In this instance , turn out means to show up , or to present yourself at a big event.

    Let me give you a few examples. In the 2016 presidential election in the United States, 139 million people turned out to vote, the most ever . That means 139 million people went to vote. Remember on Thursday we talked about Groundhog Day? When I went to Punxsutawney, about 40,000 people turned out to see the groundhog on February 2. Last Sunday, the Super Bowl took place in Minnesota, and about 50,000 people turned out to see the game at the stadium, and thousands more turned out to party outside the stadium. So you can see here that “turn out” refers to people coming out to an event like an election, sporting event, or festivity .

    Now let’s talk about “turnout,” which is just one word. This refers to the quantity of people who turned out for a particular event. Here are a few ways you can use it. Voter turnout in the 2016 American presidential election was strong, but it wasn’t as strong as the turnout in 2008, when Barack Obama first ran for president. Voter turnout usually means the percentage of eligible people who actually vote.

    Imagine your friend has a party, but you can’t go because you have other plans. You might ask your friend the next day, “how was the turnout?” That means, did a lot of people come? The Olympics are coming up and it’s common in the weeks ahead to wonder what the turnout will be like. How many people are going to go to each event? If the turnout is low, then it’s embarrassing for the Olympics and for the host country; they don’t want a lot of empty seats on television. Olympic organizers are hoping that a lot of people turn out to see the events in person.


    Thanks for listening to Plain English this week. I love hearing from listeners, so if you’d like to say hi, you can find me on Twitter or Facebook at PlainEnglishPod. You can also send an email to jeff [at] plainenglish.com. It’s a lot of fun to hear from people around the world who listen. And don’t forget to sign up for the emails every Monday and Thursday—just go to PlainEnglish.com/mail to sign up. We’ll be back on Thursday with a new episode. Like always, thanks for listening. See you next time.



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