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Butter Someone Up
Butter Someone Up English, baby! Video Lesson

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Date: Jul 30 2013

Themes: Soap Opera

Grammar: Present Perfect Progressive


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Let’s say you want to ask a friend for a favor. You want to see if she will feed your cat while you go out of town. But you don’t want to just ask her right away. You want to get her in the mood to think positively toward you, so she’ll say yes. You go over to the friend’s house with a nice bottle of wine, and you make sure to tell her how nice she looks today. You’re buttering her up, so she will want to do the favor for you.

Adding butter to food makes the food taste better. Butter is also slippery, so if something is covered in butter, it’s easier to handle. When you butter someone up, you are trying to make it easier for you to get what you want from them.

You might also butter someone up because you want to impress them. Find out who is doing just that at the office in this work English lesson.




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2. Study - Read the dialog again to see how the vocab words are used.







Lily:  Hey, Amanda! Good morning! How are you today?

Amanda:  Hey, Lily. Good morning.

Lily:  Can I take your coat?

Amanda:  Sure.

Lily:  That outfit is so nice. Is it new?

Amanda:  Nope. I wear this, like, every week.

Lily:  Oh. Well, it must be your new hairstyle.

Amanda:  Nope. Same old hairstyle, Lily.

Lily:  Well, do you want some coffee? How about a bagel?

Amanda:  I’d love a bagel.

Lily:  Cream cheese or butter?

Amanda:  Butter sounds good. Thanks. Hey, Jeff. How are those reports coming along?

Jeff:  Uh…

Lily:  I went ahead and did them. Here they are.

Jeff:  You did my report for me?

Amanda:  Why’d you do his report?

Lily:  Oh, I just had some spare time.

Jeff:  Thanks, I guess.

Amanda:  Jeff, can you come over here for a second? Did she ask you if she could do that for you?

Jeff:  This is the first I’m hearing about it.

Amanda:  Yeah. Kind of odd.

Jeff:  Yeah. I think she’s trying to butter you up.

Amanda:  You think so?

Jeff:  Yeah. She keeps complimenting you. Maybe she thinks she can get hired on for a full-time position. That kind of thing?

Amanda:  Maybe. Now that I think about it, she’s been complimenting me all day, and went on and on about this outfit. It’s the same old thing.

Jeff:  Yeah, you wear it like every week.

Amanda:  Thanks, Jeff. That’ll be all.


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From the moment Amanda arrives at the office, Lily is complimenting her. She helps Amanda with her coat, and gets her coffee and breakfast, and says nice things about her clothing and her hair. Amanda seems to think this is a little strange.

Amanda doesn’t really think something odd is going on, though, until she discovers that Lily has done Jeff’s work for him. Lily did some reports without even telling Jeff that she was going to do them. Jeff thinks Lily might be acting this way because she is trying to butter Amanda up. She’s trying to impress Amanda, or to get her to do her a favor.

Have you ever tried to butter someone up? Why? What do you think is the best way to get someone to do something for you?



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   when i want someone  do a favor for me , i always honestly tell them i need their help eventough i do not think butter someone up is a bad thing.

07:51 AM Aug 17 2013 |



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11:10 PM Aug 10 2013 |




I don’t like real butter. Anyway, so don’t butter someone up, buddie. Slime is disgusting.

03:59 PM Aug 10 2013 |

Mr. Learner


Me and friends, we always butter each other up. However, we don’t take it seriously we’re always joking. :)

09:05 PM Aug 08 2013 |



actually I have ever never tried to butter some one up. Because I feel it is silly thing and make people lose there value in front of others, so why we should do that. 

08:44 PM Aug 01 2013 |

1 person likes this


Iran, Islamic Republic Of

I have never eat cheese with out butter.i love it:)

03:03 PM Aug 01 2013 |



Personally I don’t think that buttering your boss up can give you benefits or a better position in the company. I think you can choose whether to butter smb up or not. But being creative, helpful, positive, industrious, professional can help you gain recognition with the head (s) of the company you are working for and achieve. Try this way- it’s pleasant and rewarding!

09:03 PM Jul 31 2013 |

1 person likes this



some people (esp bosses) know they are buttered up and they like it. The only way to be their favourite is to butter them up. It’s so annoying and stressful for you but sometimes you have to do it.

11:13 PM Jul 30 2013 |

1 person likes this



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

I don’t like but honestly ,I do sometimes.I always tried to be a good person and I really feel bad after doing such this things.

09:39 PM Jul 30 2013 |



heyyy…...i know a new vocabulary…..

I try to used the new words

08:42 PM Jul 30 2013 |




quite interesting video and new vocabulary…....so, be honest and don’t try to butter someone up))))))

07:08 PM Jul 30 2013 |



Congo, Democratic Republic Of The

This just remind me, when I was young, for asking my dad a service, I came up with a nice idea just to butter him up, so that he could give a satisfaction to my demand, lol

05:57 PM Jul 30 2013 |




I buttered someone up, yeah, and that was my mom, and she’s the only person i remembered buttering up. That was when i was young and i wanted her approval to go out somewhere with friends. I was a good girl for like a week, hehe. But then, I dont like doing that kind of thing coz it makes me feel uneasy and unreal.

04:25 PM Jul 30 2013 |

1 person likes this




I only butter up my toasts to add a little moisture to them  :)

   Personally, I don’t adhere to buttering people up  (unless I’m being jovial ;)as I think it can make one look phony ,plus there’s this manipulative undertow to it that I don’t like either. Furthermore, the line between bothering and buttering someone up is very delicate. Heaping someone with too much praises or behaving unnaturally nice around that person will eventually become exasperating at some point. It is important to realize that people don’t fall for these kinds of theatrical kindness very easily as many would like to believe .This is how I see it, very seldom do we tell someone off for a bad breath greeting :), it’s almost the same when we are being buttered up, we have to bite our tongues not to shout “you’re acting strange, what do you want or are hiding from me?” out of fear of hurting that person :), we just let it slide. If you have ever seen the mortified looks when you told people  that you have seen through their disguises,  then you’ll get my analogy: D. The point is, while buttering someone up can lead to a desired outcome it’s not always good advertising for your dignity or reputation. My theory is this, be nice and helpful to others on a regular basis so that you don’t have to put too much of an act when you really need them. There are a lot of people out there waiting to help without  necessarily expecting anything in return, if only you were not afraid to just ASK-  Save yourself some troubles and use your cleverness  and kindness to figure out how you going to pay them back tactfully, instead of trying to trick them into helping you.


   Now, the scenario in this lesson depicts a slightly different type of “butter up” ;), we all aim to please our bosses, we fetch them lunch, compliment them because we love them so much or it could be that we might just be buttering them up so that we could safeguard our jobs in these tough times, but most of us do so because we love them, right? Oh please! :D  .I can understand Lily’s behavior a little bit. Sometimes, it’s hard for a manager to single out an employee as “outstanding” when everybody else is apparently doing a decent job, therefore it’s difficult to get a promotion or in the case of  Lily, earn full-time employment status. I’m sure Lily is not just acting nice and hardworking, but exclaiming that she had done Jeff’s work is ethically incorrect, that could have had him and her fired, some managers don’t applaud such heroic acts. Or worse, that could have earned her more workload (and more free times for Jeff should he has decided to take advantage of her kindness ;) which I doubt is what she really wants. If I were her I would have used a different approach .I would have asked Amanda for a meeting to discuss my eligibility for a full-time position in private. If she could not afford another fulltime employee at that time, then I would know and that would have saved me a lot of trips to the bagel kiosk. ;)


03:17 PM Jul 30 2013 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

i have a frnd that can easily be buttered up:)she is so proud and the only way to convince her to do sth is  complimenting her!and the sentence that can easily make her to do sth is :this is so hard to do!!!and after that you will see she is trying very hard to show that work is easy for her and she can do it!:))))

03:05 PM Jul 30 2013 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

It’s become more common in our world to butter some one up whom we need to do sth for us . In my idea it is not a good manner , it is a sort of misbehaving . Nevertheless , we have to be polite and always appreciate what our friends have done for us and thank them but not for asking a favor . i hate this manner and never try to butter some one up , if s/he is really an admirable person i will say directly if it is necessary :)





It is such a nice expression, I liked it a lot !

In our Moroccan slang, we say “Painting someone”.

11:01 AM Jul 30 2013 |

1 person likes this



United Arab Emirates

it’s kind of using someone for the benifit of themselves. i hate people who act suddley like that for their advantage. i know poeple who don’t even say Hello to you but when it comes to their advantage they statrt to compliment you. i didn’t butter someone up for my benefit and i don’t think that i will.

06:41 AM Jul 30 2013 |

Sharing s Caring


We see this happening around everyday, it’s really disgusting, lazy employees butter their bosses up, greedy people butter up rich people or people in higher positions, ... Etc
Complementing is required within nice and polite limits and should never be one for a reason otherwise it will show.
Best thing to get someone to do something is to motivate him/her and show the value of doing such a thing. People usually do things that they love mostly and of course beside things that they feel that they have to do it otherwise they will get punished :)

03:51 AM Jul 30 2013 |



I have seldom tried to butter someone up. When I face a problem, first I’ll try to solve it by myself. If I can’t make it, I’ll ask someone to do me a favor. If he or she would help me, I’ll be very appreciated. If not, I still won’t butter them up. Normally I can get favor from other people.

I think buttering someone up is not good. It will make others feel odd and uncomfortable. If you keep good relationship with your colleagues and help them when they in need, it will be easy for you to get help for them. Besides making more good friends is also important. There is a old Chinese saying—- at home one relies on one’s parents and outside on one’s friends. So friends can always help you.

02:30 AM Jul 30 2013 |

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