How’s it going? Hoje falamos sobre as expressões usadas para dizer que alguém está em cima do muro a respeito de alguma coisa, ou… simplesmente não decidiu ainda.
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So today I’m gonna tell you about a very common idiom in the English language that is used to say that someone is neutral about something; or hesitant to choose a side in a discussion or competition. We say that person is sitting on the fence, or simply on the fence.
Let’s say a new film is out and all your friends want to go see it. You, however, have read the synopsis and can tell that there’s a lot of heavy drama in this film. You happen to not be a big fan of overly dramatic stories. What’s more, this film has been rated R for violence. Yep, lots of blood and gore. You can’t stand watching violent scenes. OK, I’m talking about myself – it’s true. I basically don’t go to the movies anymore except when it’s a comedy. So much drama and violence!
Back to the example: so all your friends are excited and can’t wait for Saturday to arrive. That’s when they’re going to the theatre. The film does sound amazing; the actors are outstanding and critics are raving about it. Also, hanging out with your friends is always fun. So there are pros and cons to this. If you go, you get to spend time with your buddies and watch what is supposed to be a wonderful film; however you’ll have to endure some drama and cover your eyes when graphic scenes come up.
So when your good friend Sally rings you up wanting to know if you’re joining the gang on Saturday, you tell her that you’re still on the fence about watching this film. You’re undecided, you’re still hesitant to make a decision. “I’m still on the fence with this movie, Sally… Not sure it’ll be worth watching all the blood.”
You’re on the fence about watching this movie. Last week you were on the fence about buying a new computer since your old computer was still functional. You decided to go ahead and buy a new one. Last month your father was on the fence about going on vacation. He ended up deciding to postpone the vacation until next year.
Here’s another example: you’ve been offered a new position in the company you work for. You’ve talked to your boss about it and he has been very understanding. You really like your current job; however, this new position pays better and is a bit more challenging. You’re still on the fence, though. The offer was extended to you a week ago and you haven’t decided yet. You’re still on the fence. Your boss then says “You’ve got to make up your mind. You can’t be sitting on the fence forever.”
Now, notice that the meaning of “sit on the fence” isn’t always exactly the same as ficar em cima do muro such as we use it in Brazil. When we say that in Portuguese, it usually communicates that someone doesn’t want to make a decision because they lack the courage to do so; because they don’t want to get in trouble and so on.
So in English, ‘sitting on the fence’ does not necessarily have such a negative connotation, as you can tell by the examples I’ve used. It can, however. You could say “So and so is a fence-sitter” which means that person never takes sides – probably because they don’t want to disappoint anyone. So a fence-sitter is someone who doesn’t choose sides.
What are you on the fence about at the moment? Let me know in the comments, and talk to you next time!
(he has been) understanding = (ele tem sido) compreensivo
so and so = fulano de tal
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