It's hard to even get a smile out of her

My boss never enjoys a joke. She never laughs. It’s hard to even get a smile out of her.

Question: I don’t understand what “out of her” means here.

Thank you!!!

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It means that you are not able to make her laugh. She has no sense of humor. Another way of saying it would be “she is very dour/surly/austere”. Although austere sounds like a literary term (used mainly in writing) but don’t quote me on that.

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‘out of’ essentially means the same as ‘from’

If something comes out of something else, it emerges from it.

It can be literal:

Water comes out of a faucet. You can get water from the faucet.

Snacks or soft drinks come out of a vending machine. You can get snacks from the vending machine.

Money comes out of an ATM. You can withdraw money from the ATM.

Or semi-literal:

In Japanese Folklore, the 天井嘗 is a spirit that comes out of the darkness on cold winter nights and licks your ceiling. The Tenjōname emerges from the darkness.

Or it can be figurative:

We can’t get a word out of her. We can’t get her to talk. She won’t talk.

It’s hard to even get a smile out of her. We can’t even get her to smile. She won’t even smile.

Now it’s your turn. You try coming up with a literal and a figurative example.


Thank you very much for the clear explanation. You are so good at it.

Wow, you’re like my teacher, after explanation, ask students to make their own examples. I think that’s the best way to know how to use it. Again, you are great.

Okay, I’ll give it a try.

an example of literal:
I can’t get out of my bed in the morning, especially in the winter.

an example of figurative:
Don’t let the cat out of the bag. It’s a secret. I know you’re not a big mouth or you don’t have a big mouth.

Thanks for the great help!

I just learned a phrase “come out of both ends”.

He’s so sick, he’s coming out of both ends.

Is it a literal usage, isn’t it?

yes, those are good examples.
except that you can just say “I can’t get out of bed in the morning.”
You don’t need to say “I can’t get out of my bed.”

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yes, except that you should say it’s coming out of both ends.

Thank you, brucenator.
It’s coming out of both ends. What does “it” mean in the sentence?

Thank you very much.

It’s just like I want to lose weight, not I want to lose my weight.

You know, it’s really confusing. Sometimes, you don’t need the possessive, however, sometimes you need to add the possessive, like I brush MY teeth after a meal, right?

well, when you say that someone is so sick that “it’s” coming out of both ends, “it” is referring to having diarrhea and vomiting at the same time. “He” is not coming out of him, something is coming out of him, “it” is coming out of him.

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Right! You just have to learn the differences in the language as you go along.

For example, the Dutch say, ik ga naar mijn werk (I’m going to my work), but in English we just say, “I’m going to work.” In this case, ‘work’ is a noun, a place, like “I’m going to school,” and not the infinitive ‘to work.’ And yet, aside from school and work, in most other cases we use “the:” I’m going to the store. I’m going to the gym. I’m going to the park. I’m going to the dentist. I’m going to the beach.


Hahaha, mine totally doesn’t make sense. Thanks again!!!

How about this one, they’re so sick, “it’s” or “they’re” coming out of both ends?

No, no, no. It’s still it’s, no matter who is sick. He is / She is / They are so sick that it’s coming out of both ends. They probably ate some poorly handled food, got what we commonly call “food poisoning” (which is normally some kind of bad bacteria, like E. coli), and now they’re sick and having vomiting and diarrhea at the same time. Euphemistically: It’s coming out of both ends.

I got sick like this one time in my life. My wife and I made the mistake of going out to eat some fast food the day after a holiday. Although I can’t prove it, I got the feeling that the food at that restaurant was probably mishandled by someone who wasn’t too happy about having to work the day after a holiday. If you get my drift. Anyway, the next day we both got terribly ill and it was coming out of both ends. Neither of us ended up in the hospital, but we took turns running to the wc. It was no fun there for a couple of days.

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I got it. Thank you very much for sharing and explaining at the same time, brucenator.

By the way, you do use “wc” (water closet) to refer to restroom or toilet, right?

You know, I happened to read an article about Taiwanese common mistakes in English yesterday. WC is one of them. That’s why I asked.

You picked up on that, did you? Very good. I’m American so I usually say ‘the bathroom’ when I’m talking about using the toilet in my home or someone else’s home.

I call it ‘the restroom’ when I’m at a restaurant or other public place, while women sometimes call it “the lady’s room” and now that I think of it, guys sometimes say “the men’s room.” Canadians tend to call it ‘the washroom,’ but I remember my dad sometimes calling it the washroom and he wasn’t Canadian. The British say ‘the loo’ or ‘the lavatory’ or ‘the lav’ or ‘the wc.’ I have no idea what Australians call it. I think some people prefer to capitalize it (WC), but you should note that WC also stands for the World Cup.

I don’t think it’s correct to characterize a term like ‘the WC’ as wrong or a common mistake. It just depends on where you are in the world as to whether it is accepted or even understood. I don’t think the term is used or understood very often in the United States, so that may be why the article is calling it a “common mistake,” because some organizations are focused specifically on American English.

I use the term ‘wc’ because I’m more accustomed to it after learning Dutch.
Ik moet even naar de wc. I have to go to the bathroom.

A woman on Twitter wrote, “If you own an establishment with only two SINGLE PERSON bathrooms and make them gender specific you’re dumb and it’s your fault if I use the men’s room.”
I would take a guess that she is American since she used the word ‘bathroom.’

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How about “john”? Do you still use go to the john refers to go to the restroom?
Is it American English as well?

“I have to go to the john” sounds kind of dated to me. In any case, it’s very informal.

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