Top Language: Up the creek without a paddle

Heathcote National Park

Heathcote National Park (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I taught a learner the expression “I’m in trouble and make that a double!” today and we started exploring a bunch of other alternatives we can use when we are in difficult situations. Here is what we came up with:

  • I’m in a fix.
  • I’m in a jam.
  • I’m in a predicament.
  • I’m up the creek without a paddle.

Up the creek without a paddle” has always been a favorite of mine. I like the feeling it evokes!

A creek is a minor channel of a river.  A paddle is a pole with a broad blade that is used to move a boat around in water.

Imagine  being in a boat on a stream without a paddle especially if you are trying to move up the creek. It’s a difficult situation indeed.

Here are a few examples in context:

  • The people who invested in that new start up are up the creek without the paddle. They will never come into their money.
  • I will be up the creek without a paddle if I don’t get these reports finished up.

Fluency Builder: Discuss the following questions with your teacher or a chat buddy

  1. Who do you speak to when you feel like you are in a jam?
  2. When was the last time you were in a serious fix?



14 thoughts on “Top Language: Up the creek without a paddle

  1. I’m in a fix is an odd one to explain, isn’t it? To a second language learner, if s/b were in a fix, it would seem as though the problem were solved. Fix is a good thing, after all!

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