Spoken English Expressions: On the fence, At a crossroads


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Hi, I’m Shayna from EspressoEnglish.net and I’m going to explain two expressions used for talking about decisions: on the fence and at a crossroads.

“On the fence” means undecided. It means you are in the middle and you can’t decide which side you want to take.

For example, if you’re planning a vacation, but you don’t know if you want to go to Italy or to Australia, and when someone asks you where you’re going to travel, you can say, “Either Italy or Australia – I’m not sure yet; I’m on the fence” – it means I’m not decided.

The expression “on the fence” is also very common for talking about deciding your belief or opinion about a controversial issue: for example, “I’m on the fence about abortion” or “I’m on the fence about the death penalty” – it means you haven’t decided and you’re not sure whether or not you support the death penalty.

After “on the fence,” you can use the preposition “about” – for example, “I’m on the fence about buying a car” or “My sister is on the fence about quitting her job.”

“At a crossroads” means you are at a moment when a decision must be made. You can imagine standing at an intersection or crossroads and needing to decide which road to take.

“At a crossroads” is different from “on the fence.” On the fence can be used for any decision, big or small, in day-to-day life. But “at a crossroads” is more used for decisions that will have a big impact on your future.

For example, if you’re trying to decide between going to university and taking a job offer in a different city, then you are “at a crossroads” – because the decision you make will significantly impact their future. Someone who is trying to decide whether to get married or whether to get divorced is also at a crossroads, because the choice they make will determine their future.

Now you know how to use the English expressions “on the fence” and “at a crossroads” when talking about making decisions.

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