Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Idioms: call (verb)

Type: Article

Tim Bowen shows why he’s calling the shots.

‘Following his defeat in the recent election, the position of the party leader has been called into question.’ In other words, his position has become less certain. 

If someone is responsible for something that has gone wrong and they are expected to explain it, deal with it or be punished for it, they can be called to account, as in ‘Some party members are demanding that the party leader be called to account for his conduct during the election campaign’. 

However, if the person in question is still in charge, it is very likely that he will still be calling the shots (making all the decisions) and may call his critics’ bluff (ask them to do what they are threatening to do because he believes that they do not really intend to do it). 

Perhaps he is the sort of person who likes to call a spade a spade (to say very directly what he thinks about someone or something even if this is rude) or perhaps the dispute between the warring factions has gone on long enough and they will decide to call it quits (to agree that neither person owes the other one anything), as in ‘Why don’t we call it quits?’ The same expression can also be used to refer to money owed, as in ‘If I pay for your ticket, we can call it quits, can’t we?’ 

In the final analysis though, the aforementioned leader might decide that he has had enough and call it a day (resign). This expression can also be used to wind up a meeting or to signal that it is time to stop work, as in ‘OK. Let’s call it a day’.

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