Use the 'Ocean' to Express Big Thoughts

    11 June 2022

    And now, Words and Their Stories from VOA Learning English.

    On this program, we explore words and expressions in the English language. Today we talk about the ocean.

    Oceans are amazingly large, deep bodies of water. When talking about some of the deepest parts of the world's oceans, much is still not known. With something so big and full of wonder, it is not surprising that English has several expressions that use the word "ocean."

    Ocean are big, deep, and sometimes mysterious bodies of water.
    Ocean are big, deep, and sometimes mysterious bodies of water.

    For starters, we can simply say "oceans of" something to mean "a lot" something. For example, Timothy will have oceans of problems if he does not find a job soon. He is racking up oceans of debt.

    Naturally, it is very common to use the word "ocean" in expressions that describe very large, seemingly limitless, things. For example, my love of my reading is as big as the ocean! I really love to read.

    You can also say "as deep as the ocean" to describe something very vast and intense. For example, if you love someone deeply, you can say your love for them is as deep as the ocean. It seems as if it has no end.

    Saying that something is as deep, big, or wide as the ocean is a simile. A simile compares things using "like" or "as."

    An ocean can also help describe something that is very far away from something else. The expression "to be oceans apart" can be used for more than just physical distance. If you are oceans apart from something, you are far from reaching a point of agreement or having common ground.

    Consider these examples:

    During an important business deal, the two parties found that they were oceans apart. It was impossible to make a deal that was good for both sides.

    Even though their political and religious views were oceans apart, the two people shared a love of music and became close friends.

    Finally, the ocean is so big that it would not make a difference if you added a drop of water to it. So, if I say something is just a drop in the ocean, it is a small amount compared to the amount that is needed. For example, some might say investing $1 million dollars in a country's educational system is just a drop in the ocean. Millions more dollars will be needed to make real change.

    And that's all the time we have for this Words and Their Stories. Until next time ... I'm Anna Matteo.

    Anna Matteo wrote this story for VOA Learning English.


    Words in This Story

    racking up – phrasal verb achieve; gain

    vast – adj. very great in size, amount, degree, intensity, or especially in extent or range

    intense – adj. existing in an extreme degree