Learn English Phrases – Get a head start / Get the ball rolling

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Everyday English Speaking Course

Hello students, this is Shayna, your teacher at and today’s phrase of the day is “get a head start.” To get a head start means to start something early so that you get some sort of advantage.

Here’s an example: Imagine you are taking a literature class and imagine that today is Monday. In class, your teacher says that Wednesday’s assignment will be to read five chapters of a new book.

Well, you’re going to have a busy day on Wednesday so you want to start early. You go to the library today, on Monday, and take the book out from the library, so that you can get a head start on the reading.

Actually, I’m getting a head start right now. I need to record one video every day for the month of February, but I’m getting a head start. I’m recording this video in January so that I can publish it later. I’m doing the work earlier than necessary; that’s what ‘get a head start’ means.

Another expression related to starting things is “get the ball rolling.” And this means to start a process, project or activity that might be a bit difficult to start but after it’s started then it will continue going with its own momentum.

Here’s an example for that: Let’s imagine that you and your neighbours want to have a summer barbeque in which everyone will participate and help out. Although you’ve talked about this barbeque with your neighbours, nobody is really taking any action to make it happen, so you can get the ball rolling by going to each of your neighbors and making a list and having each person agree to do certain tasks to prepare for the barbeque. You’ve taken the project from idea into action, and after people commit to tasks and begin getting involved, then the project will move forward naturally – but it takes one person usually to get the ball rolling, to start the process.

So those are our two phrases for today: “get a head start,” meaning to start something earlier than necessary in order to get some advantage and “get the balling rolling,” meaning to start a process or activity that will continue on its own momentum after someone starts it.

Thanks for watching and I hope you’ll join me tomorrow for more English phrases.

You’ll learn hundreds of conversational English expressions in this course:

Everyday English Speaking Course

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