Video Lesson – 8 Ways to Use Catch in English

Listen to The Can Learn English Podcast

Lesson notes

A few months ago I published an episode of The Can Learn English Podcast with the expression Caught Red Handed. In the podcast episodes, I define the words in the expressions. I was so surprised to see how many different ways the verb CATCH can be used in English. In this video lesson, you will learn 8 situations where you can use catch.

Situation 1- When we drop something 

Have you ever dropped your phone? You know the panic when you drop your phone. Have you ever said a little prayer, like please don’t be cracked before you flip it over? If you’re lucky you will have caught your phone before it dropped.

Catch means to intercept something with your hands, to stop it and hold it. 

  • You can catch a ball. The baseball player caught the ball and threw it to first base.
  • I caught my keys before they fell into a hole.
  • I’ll throw you the keys ready, catch!

Situation 2: When you get something or someone

The other day I was at a department store. I was waiting in line to pay and when it was my turn, I went up to the cash register, and the woman who was in front of me forgot her debit card in the machine. I grabbed the debit card and chased after her. I managed to give it to her and said, I’m glad I caught you before you left. 

Catch is used when we manage to find, meet, or reach (someone) at a particular time or in a particular state or condition.

How else can we use this?

Do you ever get interrupted at a bad time? Maybe you’re on your way into a meeting and your phone rings. You know the person on the end wants to have a long conversation, but you just don’t have the time for that. You could say sorry you’ve caught me at a bad time.

Situation 3- When you notice something

I was shopping the other day for a new pair of boots. I saw a pair that I liked. There was a pair that caught my eye. Here I am using the expression “caught my eye” to say there was a pair that I liked or noticed. 

We can also catch when we want to talk about getting noticed by a person.

Have you ever been to a restaurant and after your delicious meal you’re ready to pay? You could say:
I tried to catch the waiter to bring the bill but he didn’t see us. 

Here is a similar sentence: Harry Potter books caught the imagination of people of all ages.  This means people of all ages find the Harry Potter books exciting and interesting.

Situation 4 – When you talk about travel

Have you ever missed the bus? When this happens you can say: I guess I’ll catch the next one. 

 We also catch a train, a ride in a car, a plane.

  • I’m in a rush, I have a plane to catch.
  • I’m going to catch a ride with Sarah, I’ll get in her car and drive with her.

Situation 5- When you see something (quickly or for a short period)

I was with my dad in Geneva about a week ago. We passed a hotel and there was a crowd with cameras. I said to my dad there must be someone famous about to come out. We waited for a minute then the crowd started to make noise and I caught a glimpse of Roger Federer as he came out of the hotel.

In this case “catch a glimpse” means to see something or someone quickly.

Situation 6 – When you get sick

We’re heading into fall and this usually is the time people start to get sick and colds and cases of flu start going around. If you’re unlucky you might catch a cold. 

There are a few things you can do to make sure you don’t catch a cold or flu. Get rest, wash your hands, eat well and take a daily vitamin.

Catch here means to become affiliated with an illness.  This is used for illnesses that are infectious or contagious. 

Situation 7 – When you say goodbye

You run into a friend at the supermarket, you have a quick conversation but your friend has to get going, they say, see you soon. You can reply: No problem catch ya later!

Catch can also mean to meet someone later. You’re telling your friend you’ll see them or meet them at a later date.

Situation 8 – When you want to see if someone understands you

We like to Brazil for vacation every year, but we can’t decide when to go. Going in summer has a lot of benefits because it’s warm. But maybe we’ll go in the fall since the summer can be too hot and it’s busy, do you catch my drift?

“Do you catch my drift?” means do you understand me.

Listen to Episode 2 of The Can Learn English Podcast – Expression: Caught Red Handed

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