When a doubt, fear or concern is on your mind and you can’t stop thinking about it. [Download]
“I’ve got this doubt that has been nagging at me for ages”
“I have a nagging feeling that she took offence at my last email”
Hello, this is Luke Thompson. You are listening to ‘A Phrasal Verb A Day’. Here is phrasal verb number 95. Another phrasal verb episode just recorded on the spur of the moment, without too much preparation. This one is ‘to nag at’. ‘Nag’ is spelt ‘N’ ‘A’ ‘G, and then ‘at’, well of course. How do you spell ‘at’? Well, I will give you a clue. It begins with an ‘A’, and there is a ‘T’ at the end. Two letters, well of course, it is ‘at’. Ha-ha-ha, hilarious. Ok, so ‘nag at’ is the phrasal verb that we are looking at here today. Now, you might know the word ‘nag’ ‘to nag someone’. Typically, we always say that a wife nags her husband. It seems that wives or girlfriends typically nag their husbands or boyfriends. Like: “Take the rubbish out. Fill the dishwasher. Do this. Do that. Don’t do this. Don’t do that. Stop doing that. Do more of that”. That kind of thing. That’s nagging. But the phrase ‘to nag at’ actually has a different meaning. So, if something is nagging at you it means that you’ve got like a doubt or a fear or a concern which is on your mind. And, it’s sort of like in your thoughts, it’s on your mind. You can’t stop thinking about it. Okay? If you have got a doubt in the back of your mind, which is constantly in your mind. And you can’t stop thinking about it. You can say that “This doubt is nagging at you”. Ok, to nag at someone. “So, you know, I have just had this doubt which has been nagging at me for ages. I’d just like to ask you a question about it. Okay?”
‘A doubt nags at you’, ‘it is nagging at you’, ‘it has been nagging at you for a long time’. And, if you have got a nagging doubt, then usually you might need to try to get an answer to that question. ‘A nagging feeling’, ‘nagging’ is the adjective as well. Right? ‘A nagging feeling’, ‘a nagging doubt’, ‘a nagging sense’ of something. There you go. So, ‘to nag at’. Think of it as an example: Recently, when I was doing episodes of this phrasel verb podcast. I started googling the phrasal verbs as I was going. I just kind of didn’t do that recently. Let’s see, so, if you google in google. Well, “you google in google” where else would you google? If you search in Google for news, you know that you choose the different search options. If you click the word ‘news’, and then search for the phrase verb in inverted commas (sometimes called speech marks) then often you find pretty good examples of that phrasal verb. So, if we have ‘nag at’, let’s see. [hums] Here is an article from the Chronicle of Higher Education that says “They also both nag at our sense of what it means to declare ourselves something”. That’s about the Je Suis Charlie situation. That’s not a very good example. Weirdly, this is not a particularly good phrasal verb it seems, for examples, in the news. Variables nag at us to keep honest. That’s actually not a very good example. ‘A nagging feeling’, here is this article from the Washington Times. It is about Japan and hostages. The title is ‘Japan and Hostages, and Nagging Feeling That It is Their Fault’. It seems that some Japanese citizens have been taken hostage or something. (They have been decapitated recently) Anyway it seems, people in Japan have a nagging feeling that somehow it is their own fault. Ok, that wasn’t not a very google search, was it?
Not very fruitful, but I hope you understand the definition of this phrase ‘to nag at’. I have just got this question that’s nagging at me for ages. Ok, that’s the end of this episode. I will speak to you again soon.