English Phrases Shades Of Grey And Black And White Ep 245

Every Adept English lesson will help you learn to speak English fluently.

📝 Author: Hilary

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💬 1827 words ▪️ ⏳ Reading Time 10 min

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English Phrases

Lot’s of English-speaking practice in this lesson, using listen, and repeat to get you to grow the English language part of your brain and learn all about some new English phrases.

We have several specific teaching techniques which we use, you will hopefully know about the “listen & learn” through repeat listening, but (if you you follow every podcast) you will also have used “spaced repetition” to re-enforce the learning and start storing your new language skills in your longer term memory.

Today we will use “Listen & repeat” to get you to connect what your brain is storing (from all that listening) to getting your mouth and vocal chords to mimic the sounds you should now be familiar with.

Normally we just do all of this without talking about it, but if you want to know more about the learning system we use, then you should sign up for the free 7 Rules Of Adept English”: https://7rules.adeptenglish.com/ which explains in a much more detailed way, why so many people like the way we teach you to speak English fluently.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 2 word phrases:

And White14
Black And14
You Can9
Adept English7
You Don’T5

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: English Phrases Shades Of Grey And Black And White

Hi there and welcome to this short podcast from Adept English. If you are learning English and you would like to improve your understanding of spoken English and also improve your English speaking, then Adept English is specially designed for you. We are here, with two podcasts a week and our specialist courses to help you learn English naturally, the way that your brain wants to learn. It’s much easier to learn English the Adept English way, as you‘re learning the language the way you learned your own language. When you were a baby, you didn’t sit down and learn lists of vocabulary, you didn’t write out the verbs or list adverbs. No, you just listened all the time to your language being spoken!

This is the best way – and with Adept English, you can learn this way too. If you would like to understand our method of learning English better, then sign up for our course, The Seven Rules of Adept English, so that you can learn some of the psychology of how best to improve your English language skills. There is some really important advice in that Seven Rules Course.

Buy an Adept English Podcast Bundle

If you’ve been trying to learn English for a long time and you’re finding it difficult and you don’t feel that you’re getting any better, then the secrets to learning a language – any language, not just English – are in that course. Sign up now and you can start straight away. And that one is our free course – you don’t have to pay, just sign up! And if you want to see video of me speaking, then that might just be something that encourages you to get it as well!

What do ‘black and white’, ‘shades of grey’ or ‘it’s a grey area’ mean?

Anyway, today’s podcast. What about when someone says in English that there are ‘shades of grey’ or ‘it’s a grey area’ - or they might also say ‘Oh, it’s black and white’ or perhaps ‘It’s not black and white’. What do these phrases mean? Well, I’ve put them together in a podcast because they’re all related.

What about ‘shades of grey’? Well, there is a book called ‘50 shades of grey’ - if you know the book, then this podcast is nothing to do with the content of that book, let me emphasise that! No, when we talk about shades of grey, we mean something else. Grey, G-R-E-Y is a colour and it is the colour that is a mix between black, B-L-A-C-K and white, W-H-I-T-E. And a shade, means a particular kind of grey or red or blue or whatever colour. So there are lots of shades of grey, different kinds of grey.


If you were painting your wall in your house grey, not all greys are the same. So you might test out several different shades of grey to see which one you liked. There are lots of shades of grey as there are with any other colour. So those are realities about colour. There’s black and there is white, and in between those two extremes of colour, there are lots of shades of grey.

And ‘shades of grey’ and ‘black and white as an idiom’

So that’s about colour. But when we talk about ‘black and white’ or ‘shades of grey’, it’s got more of an idiomatic meaning too. You might say of someone that they ‘tend to see things as black and white’. This means that the person tends to have strong views, strong opinions about things. Their opinion is rarely mmm...in the middle. They usually have strong feelings about things. So if you are black and white about things, about situations, then it means that you don’t see the shades, the grades of colour in between. So if you’re black and white, then with people, you tend to either like them or you don’t like them. Or if you go to see a film or watch a television programme, if you’re black and white, then you either like the film or the programme or you don’t.


A photograph of a man holding a baby you cannot tell the gender of the baby. Used to help explain English grammar she, he and they.

©️ Adept English 2019

Whereas if you do ‘shades of grey’, then you have more degrees of opinion or different feelings in between the extremes. Sometimes a situation that happens has more than one cause. Something doesn’t just happen because of one thing – there may be a number of factors, of situations which play a part in an outcome. Children for instance, you can’t just divide them into ‘good kids’ and ‘bad kids’. There are shades of grey, they have characters and some parts of their character are positive, some are more negative and some are in between.

Another phrase which we use, which is related in meaning – we sometimes say ‘It’s a grey area’. So if something is ‘a grey area’, it means the situation is not clear. Does the situation fall into this category or that category? Often we talk about things being ‘a grey area’ when it comes to rules or to the law. Laws, L-A-W are made to keep the peace and keep everyone living happily together. So if you stole money from someone else’s house, if you took money out of their house, you would be ‘breaking the law’. That’s not a grey area – that’s black and white and it’s called theft, when you take something that’s not yours. But in other areas, it’s more difficult to see, whether something is against the law or not. So then we would say ‘It’s a grey area’.

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

Example phrases and pronunciation practice

So how about some examples of these phrases, so that you remember them and to help you understand the meaning in a context? Let’s use them as a bit of pronunciation practice. I’ll repeat them – and leave space for you to practise saying these after me.

  • At the moment, there are some grey areas around the law on dangerous dogs.

  • My grandmother sees everything as black and white. She’s got strong views.

  • There are shades of grey in this situation – it’s not clear which person caused the accident.


OK, so that’s the meaning of ‘black and white’, ‘shades of grey’ and ‘a grey area’. If you like what we’re doing and you haven’t yet bought one of our courses, then go to the courses page of our website and have a look at the courses that you can buy. There is lots of information on each course and you can hear audio samples – little parts of the course to listen to. So if you want to progress even faster with your English language learning, then buy one of our courses today.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.

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