Smell a rat
Li: Hi Neil. How are you today?
Neil: Hello Li. I'm a bit worried. All these bills to pay… there'll be no money left for my holiday.
Li: My problems are over and so are yours, Neil! I'll pay all my bills, and yours, and… where do you want to go for a holiday? How about Dubai? Five star hotel, by the beach, drinking champagne…
Neil: Well, that's very generous of you, Li, but where are you going to get the money for that?
Li: I won the lottery!
Neil: The lottery?! That's brilliant! How much?
Li: Yes. I won US$10 million! It's a lot of money, Neil! They sent me an email this morning.
Neil: An email?
Li: Yes. The only thing that the organisers are asking is for me to pay them a small fee and give them the details of my bank account so that they can transfer the money. I'm a millionaire!
Neil: Mmmm… I smell a rat!
Li: A rat?! Where?! I'm terrified of rats! Where is it? I can't see a rat!
(Li stands on her chair)
Neil: No, no, no! No need to stand on the chair, Li. There's no rat, no mouse, there're no rodents at all here. In English, when we say we 'smell a rat', we mean we're suspicious of someone, we feel there's something wrong.
Li: 明白了，原来所谓的 “嗅到了老鼠 smell a rat“ 意思就是起疑心，对什么事情感到可疑，感到不对头。So you think there is something wrong with this lottery?
Neil: I'm afraid so. Let's hear some examples of how to use 'smell a rat', today's expression in Authentic Real English.
A: I read an article about a diet which makes you lose six kilos in one week. It says there is no need for exercise.
B: Six kilos in one week?! That's impossible! I smell a rat!
Jane smelt a rat when she read a job advert for actresses in the newspaper. It said "no training or experience required", but they wanted someone "good-looking and open-minded".
Li: Oh. No money for me then… but are you sure, Neil? Maybe this one is for real…
Neil: No, it's not, Li. And you shouldn't send emails around with your bank details. It's very dangerous. Someone might steal your money!
Li: Yes. I should be careful with my email.
Neil: Think: have you ever entered the Australian lottery? Did you buy a ticket?
Li: No. I've never even been to Australia.
Neil: So how could you be the winner? It's a scam, Li. It's a dishonest way to make money by deceiving people like you.
Li: You are right, Neil. I wanted to win the lottery so much!
Neil: So let's go out and buy a proper lottery ticket. One we know is real!
Li: Maybe we will win!
Neil: Maybe we will! Let's go. Bye.