The English We Speak – Take a back seat

‘To take a back seat’ is an idiom that means to give up control and let someone else take responsibility.

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The English We Speak from BBC Learning English
Feifei: Hello, it’s Feifei and Rob here with today’s The English We Speak.
Rob: Feifei, keep your eyes on the road! Look where you’re going.
Feifei: OK, OK! Rob is making me drive around while we present today’s programme. Rob, why exactly am I driving my car?
Rob: Well, I really wanted you to understand the phrase we’re going to learn today. But I’m going to leave it all to you.
Feifei: So what are you going to do then?
Rob: Oh nothing. I’m just going to a take a back seat today. You carry on, I’ll just watch.
Feifei: Take a back seat? Hmmm – so you’re going to let me take control – do all the work – while you sit there and watch?
Rob: Yes – look, I’m just sitting here – on the back seat.
Feifei: Oh I get it! ‘To take a back seat’ is an idiom that means to give up control and let someone else take responsibility.
Rob: That’s it Feifei. Let’s hear from some other people who are ‘taking a back seat’…
Mary was happy to take a back seat and let Jim run the meeting.
I’m going to take a back seat this year and let you decide where we go on holiday.
Now he’s getting older he’s decided to take a back seat in running the company.
Feifei: So, to take a backseat means to choose not to take control and let someone else be in charge. Rob, does this mean you’re just being lazy?
Rob: Of course not, Feifei. It just means I’m letting you have a turn at being in charge – I trust you – although… What are you doing?!
Feifei: Letting you take the back seat while I show you how to really drive!
Rob: Feifei! Watch out for that roundabout… and that traffic light… aren’t you driving a bit fast?
Feifei: Rob – don’t be such a back seat driver!
Rob: A what?
Feifei: A back seat driver – someone who offers unwanted advice – someone who tells the driver how to drive. But we’ll leave that expression for another day!
Rob: OK OK – but you are going really fast – can I take the front seat now?
Feifei: Stay where you are!
Both: Bye.


BBC The English We Speak

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