Como digo em inglês: Ele agiu pelas costas – Inglês Online

Como digo em inglês: Ele agiu pelas costas

By Ana Luiza | Podcast Inglês Online

Jan 18
Como digo em inglês Ele agiu pelas costas

Hi, everyone. How’s it going?

Nesse episódio do podcast Inglês Online eu continuo falando sobre expressões que usam partes do corpo. Hoje, uma delas é sobre “agir pelas costas”, e a outra é sobre fazer valer a sua vontade.


Hello, everyone. How’s it going? Today we have a new episode of the inglesonline podcast. To download or just listen to other episodes and download transcripts, go to and click Podcast Inglesonline.

Like I said in the previous podcast, there are tons of expressions in English involving a body part, and today we talk about another two terms, or expressions, with the words back and foot. Now, let me start off with an example for the first term. Let’s say you tell a friend that you visited your favorite store today and you found a beautiful dress that you wanted to buy. However, you realized you’d left your wallet at home, so… no way to pay for the dress on the spot. But since this is your favorite store, the manager knows you personally because you’ve been shopping there for years, and she tells you that since you like this dress so much, and since it is the last one they have, she’s going to save it for you for the next 24 hours. Or, she’s gonna hold it for you.

This is perfect, you think. Tomorrow after work I’ll swing by the store and pick up the dress! And, of course, I’ll be really careful not to leave my wallet at home once again. You’re so happy that the next day you tell your coworker, Jane, about the dress. You tell her that the store manager is holding the dress for you and you couldn’t be happier. Jane is impressed and she wants to know where the store is. You, of course, tell her. And here’s what happens next: when you get to the store, the manager is very surprised to see you. She asks “Is everything alright?” and you say “I’m here for my dress!” The manager looks even more surprised and she tells you that your friend Virginia came by around lunch time to pick up the dress. Virginia said that you wouldn’t be able to leave work early, so she was doing you a favor.

You can’t believe what you’re hearing. There’s only one person who could have done that, and her name isn’t Virginia: it’s Jane! You ask the store manager what this Virginia person looked like, and voilá: it’s Jane. You told Jane about the dress and she went behind your back and bought it to herself! Alright, so that’s the first expression: she went behind your back. Easy, huh? We have a similar expression in Portuguese that involves the same part of the body. What does ‘going behind someone’s back’ mean? Well, every time someone uses, let’s say, information about you to their advantage… especially if it’s something that will put you in a position of disadvantage in some way… We can say that person went behind your back and did something that feels like that person betrayed you.

It could be something you told that person in confidence; it could be something that someone found out about you and then they did something with that information to get something out of it, maybe… It could be that they told someone something that you wanted to keep from that person. For example, you didn’t want your friend Mark to know about your new boyfriend. You told your other friend Daniel about your new boyfriend and you asked him no to mention it to Mark. Well, Daniel went behind your back and told Mark everything about your new boyfriend. And now Mark is mad at you and he won’t even pick up the phone when he knows it’s you calling!

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So, let’s recap: you told Jane about the dress, and then she went behind your back and bought the dress to herself. You told Daniel about your new boyfriend, and then he went behind your back and spilled the beans to Mark! So, do you have any examples where you feel someone went behind your back and you felt betrayed?

OK, do you remember one of the terms from last week’s podcast, compromise? People who are easygoing and mellow usually compromise a lot. They’re OK with making concessions or making compromises, you know, just to make sure that everyone is OK, everyone is happy in a particular situation, and so on. But even easygoing people will occasionally put their foot down for something. They will occasionally put their foot down. That means, they will occasionally insist that what they want has be done. People may say something like “Tonight I want to watch novela das 8 and that is that! I’m putting my foot down.”

Going back to the example from last episode, you wanted to have pasta for dinner and your spouse wanted salad. Remember? Let’s say that for some strange reason you guys can’t have both. It’s either one or the other. And let’s say that you have eaten salad for a week already and you’ve had enough! You tell your spouse “I’ve had enough salad and tonight we’re gonna have pasta! I’m putting my foot down”

So why don’t you give us your example in the comments? You can say something like this: my brother wanted to go to the beach and I wanted to go to the mountains. So I put my foot down, and we went to the mountains. Or you can say “My girlfriend wanted to watch an art movie, but I put my foot down. We went and watched Transformers”
Talk to you next time!


Key expressions

  • go behind someone’s back
  • put (my, his, etc) foot down



swing by =dar uma passada

this Virginia person = essa tal de Virginia

something you wanted to keep from that person = algo que você não queria que aquela pessoa soubesse

and voilá = e não dá outra

it’s either one or the other = é um ou outro

  • Debbie says:

    Hi Ana! I love your podcasts.
    I’m a housewife and when I’m tired of cleaning the house, wash the dishes, …I put my foot down and say:
    Tonight we’re gonna have sandwich for dinner!!! I put my foot down and we have sandwich!

    Bye, bye!

  • Jeff says:

    I’ve watched an episode of The Big Bang Theory and there’s a scene that Sheldon says to Leonard “I’ve been seeing Penny behind your back” When I’ve heard that phrase I remembered of this podcast! :D

    See you soon Ana!

  • Hi, I’m Fernando, from RS, and I work at CCAA.

    I just wanted to say that then your web site is out of this world. Amazing content!
    Your pronunciation is unbelievable perfect. English is really your strong suit.


  • Raymundo says:

    When I go shopping, if the shop isn’t expensive, I often pay it in cash. The salesperson
    usually says that I can pay in two, three or more times but I put my foot down and pay
    the way I want.

    • Ana Luiza says:

      Nice one, Raymundo. Só que a impressão que dá é que o vendedor está meio que querendo te forçar a pagar com cartão ou outro meio… Foi isso mesmo? Ficou divertido :) “put my foot down” é fazer valer a vontade, contra a vontade dos outros.

  • Tainara Kelem says:

    Well, Hi Everyone! I had a situation very stressing last week. My friend told me that he wanted see a movie in saturday and invited his girlfriend to go with us too. However,I discovered that I like him there’s a little time. I put my feet down when I said to him my new feeling,because he looks at me like his best friend and he don’t wanted change it. I’m still in love with him,but I don’t will try something to put him behind someone’s back!

    Obs: I did this story to test my English.Thank You Ana!

  • matheus says:

    Hi Ana

    gostaria de saber se tem como usar a expressão “behind someone´s back” sem o “go”, por exemplo “he did this behind your back” ou “he bought this behind my back”

    thank you

  • Raymundo says:

    Aninha ( as I call my daughter ), you give meanings
    in the Glossary but not in the Key expressions. I think it’s
    for us to research. What do you say ?
    Thanks for answering.


  • como falar ingles eu nao seii eu so sei falar potugues e mais nada bjs. barbara

  • Bruno says:

    Hi Ana

    This is my first comment.

    I have been listening your podcasts since a week and i liked it a lot, very very good job.

    congratulations for your website ^^

    Well a don´t no if someone went behind my back , and a really don´t want to known kkkkkkk

    Best regards.

  • Ana Luiza says:

    Awesome comments, everyone! Thank you!

  • EVandro says:

    Hello Ana Luiza, How is it going?

    Could you help me out to make it clearer. I have heard the last podcast about Compromise and this one as well, but I need a clearance. Does Compromise means the same as Give Up (meaning “Ceder”)?

    Thank you very much!!

    • Ana Luiza says:

      Olá Evandro – estão na mesma “área”, mas não vou dizer que são a mesma coisa, pois eu usei ‘compromise’ como verbo intransitivo, e ‘give up’ não.

      Eu disse ‘give up part of what you want’. Essa frase inteira significa o mesmo que ‘compromise’ no meu texto.

      ‘give up’ sozinho não quer dizer ‘compromise’. ‘I give up’, por exemplo, quer dizer ‘Eu desisto’.

      Uma possível tradução para português de “We need to compromise” poderia ser “Precisamos ceder um pouco” na minha opinião.. Mas tradutores especializados podem ter outras traduções.

  • Doom says:

    My friends wanted to watch Happy Feet 2 but I didn’t want. I put my foot down, then we went and watch Mission Impossible 4.

    I can see people going behind their back all the time. :(

  • Bárbara says:

    There was this party at home, in which I invited my friends of school, and the guy I like came, and everyone knew that I liked him, even him knew about it… So here’s what happened: for some reason I don’t know, he was gone, and I got really bad about it and I got drunk… so I kissed a guy! It was the worst thing I’ve ever did in my life… I told my friend about it and she went behind my back and told the guy I like about the kiss!! He doesn’t talk to me anymore, he thinks I’m like the other girls… Anyway… I regret everyday, but there’s nothing I can do to fix this :/
    well, thank you so much, I loooove your podcasts! See ya ;)

  • George Louis says:


    My sister wanted to go home by motorcycle and I wanted to go home by car. So I put my foot down and we went by car.

    I remember one day that I told a friend of mine about a girl I liked. I thought he would help me , buut , did he help me?? nooo , he went behind my back and picked up her. ¬¬ haha

    Great expressions , Thankss !!!!!!!! please , correct me if I wrote something incorrect !!! thanksss !!!!!!!

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