Have you got a thing about idioms? That could mean more than one thing, explains Tim Bowen …

‘Terry has a thing about spiders. If there’s one in the bath, he won’t go in the bathroom’. If you have a thing about something, you have strong feelings about it, especially feelings that are unusual or unreasonable. The expression can also be used in a more positive sense to mean to have a craving for something, as in ‘Martin has a thing about strawberry ice-cream. He just can’t get enough of it’. It can also refer to people. If you have a thing about someone, you are obsessed with them in some way, as in ‘I know it sounds crazy but she has a thing about George Michael. She’s got all his albums’.

If something is quite the thing, it is very popular or fashionable, as in ‘Baggy jeans were once quite the thing among teenage boys’. If you know a thing or two about something, you are actually quite an expert, as in ‘Old Tom knows a thing or two about badgers’.

When you are explaining something, the expression for one thing is used for saying that the reason, detail or example you are giving is not the only one, as in ‘I refuse to have a cat in the house. For one thing, I’m allergic to the bloody creatures’.

If you are explaining why something did or did not happen, you can use the expression what with one thing and another to refer to many different events in a way that is not specific, as in ‘What with one thing and another, we didn’t get back to London until four o’clock in the morning’.