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Mind One's Own Business
Mind One's Own Business English, baby! Video Lesson

Learn English meaning of idiom 'mind one's own business'

Date: Apr 07 2015

Themes: School, Soap Opera

Grammar: Modal Verbs


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If you see two people shouting and pushing each other on the street, do you stop? It’s a dilemma, for sure. It’s likely that most of us would say to ourselves, “I should mind my own business,” and keep walking. But what if one of the people is an adult and the other a child? Then do you get involved? Often your ethics make that decision for you.

In everyday situations, this expression is most often used to tell someone to stop trying to help when his or her help isn’t wanted. You might hear a boy tell his sister to mind her own business if she’s telling him how to do something and he wants to figure it out himself. Or if a student hears two friends talking about a guy and she tries joining the conversation without being invited, she may be told to mind her own business. It’s not very kind, but it sends a clear message!

Brian saw someone cheating during an exam, but he doesn’t want people thinking he’s a tattle-tale. Should he tell his professor, or should he mind his own business? Read on to learn Marni and Jessica’s opinions in today’s English lesson.

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Brian:  Hey!

Marni:  Shhhh!

Jessica:  Shhhh!

Brian:  Are you guys almost done?

Jessica:  No. What’s up, Brian?

Brian:  I’m having a dilemma.

Marni:  What kind of dilemma?

Brian:  I know I should just mind my own business, but I saw someone cheating on the exam today.

Jessica:  No way. What did you do?

Brian:  Nothing. I didn’t want to get involved.

Marni:  Are you sure he was cheating? How do you know?

Brian:  He had a little piece of paper in his back pocket. And he would take it out and glance at it discreetly when the professor wasn’t looking.

Jessica:  That sure sounds like cheating. So, it wasn’t an open book test?

Brian:  No.

Marni:  Look, Brian. I know you want to mind your own business and not get involved, but this is about ethics.

Brian:  I know, I know. I just don’t want everyone to think that I’m a tattle-tale.

Jessica:  Don’t worry about what other people think.

Marni:  She’s right, Brian. You need to do the right thing.

Brian:  OK, OK. I just wish I didn’t feel so guilty about it.

Jessica:  Brian, the only person who should feel guilty is the guy who was cheating.


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Brian is unsure what he should do. He saw another student looking at notes during their exam, and he knows that’s not OK. Brian believes that someone should tell the professor, but he doesn’t want people to think he’s a tattle-tale.

Jessica and Marni tell Brian that he must say something. Their opinion is that it’s the right thing to do. Brian agrees, but he’s uncomfortable having to do it himself. Telling the professor makes Brian feel guilty.

When should you mind your own business, and when should you get involved?



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@ Scienceboy, thanks :) This phrase has nothing to do with ignorance. It’s rather a reminder to balance the pros and cons for interfering in other peoples lives. Because we don’t always know the full story, do we?

07:19 AM Apr 09 2015 |

La Princesse de la vie


Simply, you should mind your onwn business when it’s something personal to someone else and you’re not welcomed to share it with. And with the same easiness – theoritically – you need to get involved when it’s related to ethics. But most people prefer to mind their own business in all cases. 

10:08 PM Apr 08 2015 |




I think i have shared with you this story about cheating. My cousin is a school teacher at Los Angeles Unified School . She caught red handed three teachers cheating on the exams, as furious as she was, she told them to stop or she would would go to the principal. It was of no avail, they didn`t back down. My cousing storm into the principal`s office and informed  what was going on in the school. The principal didn`t back up her. To summon up, my cousin had a nervous breakdown. 

02:31 PM Apr 08 2015 |





Thanks for sharing this amazing phrase

“Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should”

09:11 AM Apr 08 2015 |



Most of the time I just mind my own business because I don’t like to get in trouble with others but, there are sometimes when you need to get involved because, as Jessica said in the dialog, is about ethics. I’m one of those persons that thinks that what others say about you shouldn’t be an obstacle for doing the right things, but maybe you need to investigate before telling something, it could be a misunderstanding… it’s pretty complicated indeed.

11:22 PM Apr 07 2015 |



nowadays private life seems to disappear and we become more like public figures with social network. so its hard to tell to mind their own business , as all of us are in public already. lol

05:18 PM Apr 07 2015 |




Then let me rephrase it, Olya. I admire your courage. I don’t have nay negative experiences with authorities. It is for sure a dog eat dog world out there. They’re just waiting to survive to wipe their mouth clean with napkins afterwards :)

05:13 PM Apr 07 2015 |




I admire your balls, Olya. So often I had and still have to hold my tongue in similar situations. But I came to the conclusion that I am far better off if I leave that to those with  authority.

03:36 PM Apr 07 2015 |




A long time ago I learned to take the back seat to let people make their own mistakes. This of course excludes those rare instances where my kids or friends ask me specifically for advice. Other than that, I am minding my own business. Viewing other people’s behavior or actions is a waste of time for me and really “none of my business”. I would change my stance only after I assessed a life-threatening situation.

We all have shortcomings. If I were Brian, there would be a lot of talking inside my head but I would not go to the professor to tell him about what I saw. There’s this phrase I like a lot when I am torn:

“Just because you could, doesn’t mean you should”




@s11211s ,i totally agree you that answer this question is a dilemma! what about most the students in the classroom were cheating.I will be the annoying person among students on account of telling teacher what i saw.I can’t stand people around me talking behind my back.

I’ve beening thinking getting involved and take a stand on ethic value will be the right way to slove problem instead of making it more complicated.That topic remind me a very famous movie named Scent of a woman.Charles refused to say who on earth arranged the whole trick.If we get everything connected with ethic ,after that ethic is no more ethic at all ,it is law.

12:26 PM Apr 07 2015 |



Iran, Islamic Republic Of

As I thought, there will be no more comment on this lesson! because thinking about this topic and answer the question is a dilemma!

To be honest I have to say Brian shouldn’t tell the professor! Because on the exams students has no time to observe around! and students has no any responsibility about cheating of the other students! who is responsible of this afairs at the university is the professor and the other staff. In other word, today everyone has own business.

But in some situations if there is no one, who is responsible or who is in charge of such affairs, according to ethices we should get involved. I confess making decisions in this situations is so difficult and you should make decision very quickly and if you don’t do right work you will be under mental intense pressure fo ever!

10:53 AM Apr 07 2015 |



well, sometime we should want to mind our own business , ethical values taught us we sholud handle the situation if it is going wrong we feel guilty. however, situation might be delimma to over come then we should not get involved.

i wish i could do, as brain did at that class, might be the guy didn’t prepared for exam :p  so he was cheating discreetly.

if something glancely going wrong then we should tattle-tale otherwise we should not get invovle.. (personal opinion) ;)

09:26 AM Apr 07 2015 |



Sri Lanka

I agree with Jessica and Marni and think Brian should blow the whistle on the student who was cheating. 

Now, I’ll try and answer the question. When should I mind my own business, and when should I get involved? It’s really a dilemma, and may depend greatly on my ethical values and the amount of risk involved for me. 

07:31 AM Apr 07 2015 |

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