138 – Big 40

Learn birthday English and about Andrew's upcoming birthday in this ESL podcast


A:  How does it feel to be the big 4 – 0

B:  It feels surprisingly uneventful.  I remember not too long ago even 30 seemed really old.  This is no big deal.


A:  It’s a nice milestone though.  It’s a good chance to reflect back on your life and also ponder the future.  Do you have any words of wisdom?


B:  I would say to make health and family your top priorities.  Keep things simple. I’ve definitely learned that focusing too much on material things or partying all the time is a waste of time.


A:  That sounds like a good perspective.  I’ve been definitely toning down the partying myself.


B:  That’s good.  Overall I’m probably feeling better at 40 than I was at 30.  I’m also really trying to enjoy every moment.  I’ve been noticing that the years really fly by the older you get.  I’m sure that before I know it I’ll be 50.



The big 4-0 :
This is a set way to describe a big and important birthday.

The big 5-0
The big 7-5
The big day


This is a way of describing something as not very exciting or not a big deal.

How was your New Years?
Pretty uneventful. We just stayed home with the baby.


This means a really important or significant step or event. Something symbolic.

Earning your first million dollars in a company is a milestone.
Turning 40 is a milestone
When a baby learns to walk for the first time, that is also a milestone.


This means to think back about the past and think deeply about it.

What do you think about the business meeting we just had?
I’m not sure. I want to take a few days to reflect on it. I’ll let you know on Monday.

Ponder the future:

To “ponder” something also means to think about it deeply. “Reflect” means something in the past or that already happened.

Did you decide where you will go for your vacation?
Not yet, we’re still pondering.

Words of wisdom:

This is another set phrase meaning really interesting or insightful ideas. This is like good and intelligent advice.

Being the nice older brother that I am, I like to always offer my younger brother Add a few words of wisdom.

Material things:

This is stuff that money can buy. Expensive cars, clothing, phones, jewelry…

Even though you may think that material things will make you happy – they won’t.


Someone’s “perspective” means their specific opinion based on their own unique situation and experience.

I want to listen to a 100 year old talk about how to live long. They obviously have a good perspective on the topic.

Town down:

If you “tone down” something it means to make it less loud, less important, less something.

A very common sentence a father could say to his teenage kids:

Hey, do you mind toning it down guys? I’m trying to sleep up here!

Before you know it:

This is a set phrase that means something will seem like it will happen really quickly.

I know your baby is only 1 now, but before you know it he will be going to university.

I know it is a long winter, but don’t worry, before you know it you will be summer and you will be in the pool!

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