Number one for English language teachers

Your English: Phrasal verbs: jump

Type: Article

We bet you’re all jumping at the chance to read this buoyant article by Tim Bowen.

If you jump at a chance, an idea, an offer or an opportunity that is presented to you, you accept it in a very enthusiastic way, as in ‘She jumped at the chance to join the polar expedition’ or ‘I jumped at their offer of a lift all the way to Spain’.

The phrasal verb jump on is generally used in two ways. It can mean to attack someone physically, as in ‘He was walking home from the tube station when he was jumped on by a gang of teenagers’. It can also mean to criticize someone severely, as in ‘He jumps on me every time I get something wrong’.

In the sense of being immediately noticeable, jump off and jump out at have much the same meaning. If words or pictures jump off the page, they are the first thing you notice, as in ‘The words just jumped off the page at me’, and if something jumps out at you, you notice it immediately, as in ‘Of all the photos in the collection, one in particular jumps out at you’.

To jump in means to become involved in a situation very quickly, as in ‘Passers-by jumped in to break up the fight’. If you jump in at the deep end, you become involved in a very difficult situation, and if you jump in with both feet, you become involved in something without thinking it through carefully beforehand, as in ‘Don’t go jumping in with both feet. Consider the pros and cons carefully first’.

If you describe someone as jumped-up, you imply that they think they are more important than they really are, as in ‘I’m not going to sit here taking orders from some jumped-up schoolboy’.

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