On fire

Some weeks ago someone said “The plane was fired” and, by saying so, their interlocutors could only presume that such aircraft had lost its job (or “got the boot”, to use an informal and less polite idiom). Remember, was fired (past form of “to be fired”) means exactly that: to be dismissed from employment, whereas the speaker meant to say that there was fire – combustion, ignition- in the airplane.

But how can we actually talk about fire? What’s the best way to describe, quantify or specify issues related to fire? It’s something I consider useful for both general and aviation English, given that pilots are often asked to talk about emergency situations during the ICAO test – hence it comes as no surprise that fire lies among the worst problems a pilot can have on board. Let’s see some adjectives and nouns that help us detail fire:

Now, let’s go through some examples and usage notes:

Click on the picture if you wish to see it in a bigger size. I hope these examples might help the next time you talk about fire 🙂

Source: thesun.co.uk

Semanas atrás alguém falou “”The plane was fired” e, ao dizer isso, não pude deixar de imaginar o avião sendo demitido (ou “levando um pé na bunda”, em linguajar mais informal e menos polido). Lembrem-se, was fired (passado de to be fired) significa exatamente isso: ser dispensado do trabalho, sendo que, na verdade, o falante queria dizer que havia fogo (there was fire) – combustão, queima – no avião.

Mas, afinal, como é que se fala sobre fogo em inglês? Qual a melhor maneira de descrever, quantificar ou especificar questões relacionadas a fogo? É algo que considero útil para estudantes de inglês como língua estrangeira, mas também, claro, para quem estuda inglês de aviação, visto que o teste ICAO sempre traz situações de emergência que os candidatos devem explorar ao máximo. Assim, não é de se espantar que fogo esteja entre as piores emergências que um piloto pode ter a bordo. Vejamos alguns adjetivos e substantivos que, combinados com a palavra fire, nos ajudam fornecer detalhes sobre o fogo:

Agora, alguns exemplos e observações de uso:

Clique na imagem acima, para vê-la maior. Espero que muitos destes exemplos te ajudem na sua próxima conversa sobre fogo 🙂


About Isabella Ferraro

English examiner, teacher and frustrated ballerina. Geek, gauche, obsessed with books, podcasts and the web. Diligent professional and blogger, tho. More info below blog's header.
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4 Responses to On fire

  1. Renato says:

    Hi Isabella! Very good tips about fire! I guess that in flight fire is by large the worst problem for a pilot. By the way, is it ok to say LAY OFF instead of to be fired? Besides that, what about “be made redundant”? Thanks!

    • Hello, Renato,
      Yes, you can definitely say “laid off”, “dismissed”, “sacked” and “fired” meaning that someone has lost their job.
      When it comes to “redundant” (mostly UK), things get a bit controversial, although it’s been widely used in the last years. In theory, one gets redundant when they’re exceeding or are no longer needed for the company (“a redundant operator”), but mind that it may also refer to a more particular context in which something or someone has become unnecessary for the accomplishment of certain tasks (“Due to technological advance, some professions have been made redundant”, “Answering machines have become redundant”, which has similar meaning to one of Ricardo’s favorite expressions: going the way of the dodo).
      Happy to hear you like the post, no wonder fire would be the worst problem for a pilot to solve – even on ground it’s regarded as a major problem as well 🙂


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