It’s the moment everyone dreads at a conference or party. A person you’ve met several times before walks over to you and says “Hello!” You know the polite thing to do is to introduce him to your group of coworkers. You rack your brain for his name, but it’s slipped your mind. Finally, you have to say “I’m sorry. I know you’ve told me your name before, but I can’t put my finger on it!” Has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you deal with the situation?
Watch the video below for more uses of this expression.
I can’t put my finger on it? I can’t put my finger on what?!
If you say, “I can’t put my finger on it,” what you mean is, “I can’t work out the exact cause of a problem or situation.” That is, “I can’t work out why a situation is the way that it is.”
Let’s look at a few examples:
- Hmm, there’s something wrong with this soup, but I can’t put my finger on it.
- I’ve made a mistake somewhere in the code, but I can’t put my finger on it.
- The vet knows there’s something wrong with my cat, but she can’t put her finger on it.
So, there we are. Do you have a similar phrase in your language?
Are you ready to practice using today’s English expression? Read the questions below and let us know your response in the comments section below.
- Have you ever been asked to explain why you liked a piece of art? Were you easily able to express your opinion? If not, what could you have said instead?
- Did you ever feel really comfortable around a person you’d just met, but you didn’t know why? How might you describe the situation?
- If you recognized a face in a crowd, but couldn’t remember where you’ met the person, what could you say about it?
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