Catch Word #158 – Give me a ballpark figure

In some situations you can’t be exact, so you have to estimate a number. There are tons of reasons why this happens, and we talk about some in this episode. And of course, we also share some fun expressions to talk about guessing and estimating. How many people were at the concert last night? How much do you think that gold watch is worth? You may have to give a ballpark figure. Listen to this episode to learn more!

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 Expressions included in the Learning Materials:ESL Podcast

  • Stoked
  • To pass away
  • Expressions to use when someone has died
  • The best way to go
  • Yuppers
  • Full blast
  • A ballpark figure
  • On the spur of the moment
  • In the market for something
  • A beater
  • Happening
  • An educated guess
  • A margin of error
  • A cut of something
  • The more you know
  • A stag and doe
  • To blow money

Sample transcript:


Andrew: That’s right. And today’s expressions are all about estimating.

Maura: Right. An estimate comes in handy when you don’t know the value of something or you don’t know the quantity. You can estimate how much of something there is or its value. It’s really a number that you’re looking for.

Andrew: Exactly. And, actually, today’s episode is kind of interesting, because usually when we do a Catch Word episode, we describe and explain verbs. But today we’re gonna talk more about nouns, so I’m excited about that.

Maura: You sound like a really big grammar geek, that you’re excited that we’re gonna do nouns. But I know what you mean. It’s a little bit different, so it’s fun.

Andrew: Exactly. Yeah. Every time you get to do something new, it’s always exciting.

Maura: OK. Let’s get to it then. So let’s get started. The first expression today is a ballpark figure.

Andrew: Yup. A ballpark figure.

Maura: Hey, yeah. We say that second word a little bit differently, don’t we? I say a ballpark figure.

Andrew: And I say a ballpark figure.

Maura: Yours sounds actually right. It sounds like how it’s spelled. Mine sounds strange.

Andrew: Yeah, well, I think this is interesting because Canadians don’t really have too much variation in their accent, but I am from the West Coast and you’re from Ontario, and sometimes there are some slight vowels that we say differently and this is an example of that. I say figure and you say figure.

Maura: Right. So, you can go with either one, and if you notice that it’s different, don’t worry about it. Just focus on the expression itself, which is a ballpark figure.

Andrew: Mmhmm. And so what is a ballpark figure?

Maura: A ballpark figure is actually really just a long and fancier way of saying a kind of estimate.

Andrew: Yeah. So it’s when you guess something sort of on the spur of the moment.

Maura: Right. When someone wants you to give a number, like, a quantity or a value, and you don’t know, so in the moment, you might try to just take a guess with the information that you have.

Andrew: Mmhmm. And when I hear this expression, a ballpark figure, I always think that somebody is trying to estimate a price, especially. How much will something cost? So maybe you’re talking to a contractor who you want to renovate your home, and you want to know roughly how much this renovation will cost, so you ask them for a ballpark figure.

Maura: Right. When someone can’t tell you exactly how much it’s going to cost, they can guess. And just like you said Andrew, it’s used by some professionals like contractors or other people who work with numbers, like accountants. In certain situations they can’t give you the exact number so they give you a ballpark figure.

english PodcastPodcast/Learning Materials: Culips English Podcast, Image Culips