In my element...

Discussion in 'English Only' started by claude23, Oct 10, 2005.

  1. claude23 Senior Member

    normandy
    FRANCE
    Good afternoon,


    If I feel down and I am sick and I haven't got a job etc.... may I use I am not in my element ? What should I use if my sentence is not right ?

    Thank you,

    Claude.
     
  2. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    To be in your element means that you are comfortable in your surroundings, if you are feeling unwell then you can be 'under the weather' and if you are feeling down, then you can be 'down in the dumps', it all depends how colloquial you want to be.

    Any help?

    Gatamariposa :)
     
  3. whatonearth Senior Member

    UK, English
    To be "not in your element" is more to do with being in a situation that is unfamiliar and/or a situation that you struggle to adapt to.

    If you are just generally feeling down/sick or are unemployed this isn't really not being in your element, maybe you are just feeling "under the weather" or "down in the dumps"...something like that?
     
  4. whatonearth Senior Member

    UK, English
    Oh my God...that is just SCARY...you post exactly the same as me (except 1 minute earlier)! :)
     
  5. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    Isn't that what I said ! Never mind great minds think alike;)
     
  6. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    Hmm interesting and quite eerie,

    Gatamariposa :D
     
  7. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    I have never heard the "I'm in my element" idiom used negatively - "I'm not in my element".
    Similarly, I would not expect someone to say "I'm not on cloud nine.":)

    whatonearth and Gatamariposa - you thought it was only your computer that was connected to WR Forums:rolleyes: WR connects to the places that other Forums cannot reach.:cool:
     
  8. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    Don't say that am truly freaked now, where are these places, and are they friendly?? :p

    Gatamariposa :)
     
  9. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge

    I have heard it used in understatement, "I wasn't exactly in my element," or better, "I was a little out of my element."

    I hear this less frequently.

    Z.
     
  10. morgana05 Junior Member

    UK
    UK ENGLISH
    hi all

    Not in your element is not really used in a negative way - you can be in your element/ happy as pig in muck. In my opinion it is like overwhelmed, you don't really say underwhelmed. Well, I do because it has a hint of sarcasm.
     
  11. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    Exactly. It would be litotes or meiosis or some such.

    Z.
     
  12. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    "To be out of one's element" is a fairly common AE expression, and is used, as others have noted, to express the idea that one is uncomfortable or feels "out of place" in a given situation.

    For example: As I get older, I tend to feel more and more out of my element whenever I attend rock concerts.

    Others have already provided very apt expressions for describing the situation you are in.
     
  13. Isotta

    Isotta Senior Member

    France
    English, Hodgepodge
    I feel like it is used to express a wry bit towards a situation rather than to observe fact--an aging person would of course feel out of place at a rock concert, but being "out of one's element" would be used for such an unlikely situation or meeting of elements.

    I shall try to think of an example.

    Z.
     
  14. Kelly B

    Kelly B Senior Member

    USA English
    I am out of my element in the Spanish-English forum.
     
  15. panjandrum

    panjandrum PongoMod

    Belfast, Ireland
    English-Ireland (top end)
    The Google results show approximately equal numbers of hits for "in my element" and "out of my element" across the web.

    Restricting to UK sites only, there are almost three times as many for "in my element".

    Which goes to prove very little really - but tends to support the conflicting views expressed by BE speakers and AE speakers (well, by me and AE speakers:p )

    ... and now that I've discovered that "out of their element" was used by Daniel Defoe in 1719, I think I'd better go and sit in the corner for a while.
     
  16. morgana05 Junior Member

    UK
    UK ENGLISH
    hi again

    To me the meaning of TO BE IN YOUR ELEMENT is when you are put in a position or situation that you really like. Example: for a BOOB MAN to be Pamerla Andersons bikini advisor or chocoholic to work in a chocolate factory with lots of free samples
     
  17. GenJen54

    GenJen54 Senior Member

    Downright Pleasant, USA
    USA - English
    To me, "to be in one's element" goes beyond just liking. There is a certain comfort level that you have when what you are doing is something that really comes naturally to you, and that you happen to be very good at.

    I will give an example using one of our very own foreros. Elroy is excellent at languages. He is really in his element, however, as leader of the new Arabic language forum.

    In other words, he is not only an expert on the subject, but it is a subject with which he is really "at ease."
     
  18. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    So can we say that is used as a positive comment rather than a negative one? Or is that over-generalising?

    Gatamariposa
     
  19. morgana05 Junior Member

    UK
    UK ENGLISH
    hi Gatamariposa

    that is right, if you are not in "your element" I think a "fish out of water" sounds better.
    bye for now
     
  20. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    'A fish out of water' can be a very difficult situation, whereas not 'being in your element' could just meant that you were a little uncomfortable in a situation.

    Thoughts?

    Gatamariposa :)
     
  21. foxfirebrand

    foxfirebrand Senior Member

    The Northern Rockies
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    "Penguins are so awkward on land, I was almost shocked by these underwater videos revealing their swiftness and grace-- in their element, they remind me that they really are birds."

    .
     
  22. Gatamariposa

    Gatamariposa Senior Member

    SE London
    UK - English (native), Spanish, French
    Therefore if something is in its natural environment they are 'in their element'.

    Could I say I was in my element in the classroom? (Well nothing wrong blowing my own trumpet is there!!)

    Gatamariposa :)
     
  23. deserthaze06

    deserthaze06 Senior Member

    USA - English
    Myself, I have used "out of my element" but never "fish out of water." I think that is more of a literary phrase.
     
  24. ensoie Senior Member

    English, Hindi
    Can "to be in one's element" and "to feel at home" be synonyms? If not, what is the difference between the two?
     
  25. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I think the feelings described by those phrases are related, but not the same. The difference is that 'to feel at home' doesn't require that you do anything. The mere being there is enough. With the idiom 'to be in one's element', there's an implication of doing something. ~ Here are the dictionary entries for those phrases:
    feel at home
    To feel as if one belongs; to feel as if one were in one's home; to feel accepted. I liked my dormitory room. I really felt at home there. We will do whatever we can to make you feel at home. (source)

    be in your element
    To feel happy and relaxed because you are doing something that you like doing and are good at. You should have seen her when they asked her to sing, she was in her element. (source)
     
  26. ensoie Senior Member

    English, Hindi
    OK! So as I understand both are associated with a feeling of being comfortable but with a difference of context. Feel at home is related to being comfortable at some place and In one's element is being comfortable with doing something..?

    So, let me try :

    I felt at home in Spain due to its friendly and helpful people. (Felt comfortable and accepted there inspite of it not being my country)

    Peter was more than happy to dance at the annual day in office, he was in his element (Peter is a good dancer and is very comfortable and happy to dance)

    Hope I got this right?
     
  27. EStjarn

    EStjarn Senior Member

    Spanish
    I wouldn't dare say 'yes, that is exactly how it is' - but I feel you can get a long way with it. If you're after a 'rule' , I can't think of a better one. But I'd be open to the existence of exceptions.

    In my opinion, those are good examples of the use of the idioms in question.
     
  28. ensoie Senior Member

    English, Hindi
    Thanks Estjarn .. much clear now!

    However, I am always open to any further information on this topic :)
     

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