Wife: What are you doing? Husband: Killing mosquitoes. Wife: How many did you kill? Husband: Five mosquitoes. Three female and two male mosquitoes. Wife: How do you know their genders? Husband: There were two near the mirror and three near beer.
When I cracked this joke to a group of teacher trainees at an English Language Teaching (ELT) workshop, one of the participants asked me whether the word ‘beer’ should be pronounced /bi:r/ with the long vowel /i:/ or as ‘near’ and ‘cheer’ with the diphthong. Quite surprisingly, most of the participants pronounced it /bi:r/ which is incorrect. Beer rhymes with cheer, near, dear, year, peer, etc. How is the word ‘bear’ pronounced? Bear rhymes with chair, hair, hare, bare, wear, there, etc. To become familiar with the pronunciation of ‘beer’ and ‘bear’, try this tongue twister: The bear with the beard drinks a beer with the bird.
There are many idiomatic expressions with the word ‘beer’. Here are some of the expressions in sentences.
1. Students who think that college life is all beer and skittles may not perform well in examinations.
2. Whenever Ramesh attends parties, he beers up and goes home late.
3. Reena has the habit of crying in her beer and so we avoid meeting her.
4. When Gupta shared his problem with his wife, she consoled him by saying, “Don’t worry. It is a small beer”.
5. Strange! She has champagne on a beer budget.
The idiom ‘all beer and skittles’ means a situation or state of carefree comfort and pleasure. Though the expression ‘life is not all beer and skittles’ is similar in meaning to the expression ‘life is not a bed of roses’, it has a negative connotation.
• I want to enjoy life to the fullest. I eat, drink and make merry. My life is all beer and skittles.
The second expression ‘to beer up’ means ‘to drink a lot of beer’ in an uncontrollable manner and get drunk.
• It is quite shocking to know that all these guys who are beering up are school students.
The expression ‘to cry in one’s beer’ means to feel sorry for oneself and boring others with problems and stories of sufferings and miseries.
• I pity the counselors who have to meet people who always cry in their beer.
The expression ‘a small beer’ implies something which is not important, especially when compared to something else. It is similar in meaning to the expression ‘a small potato’.
• I’m discussing an issue that is very important for the growth of our institute. Don’t treat it as a small beer.
‘To have champagne (taste/lifestyle) on a beer budget’ means, to try to have expensive things in life though one can’t
afford to have them.
• He has borrowed money from many of his friends and bought a used Mercedes Benz car. No doubt, he has a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget.