Learn English with The Big Bang Theory

Sheldon Has to Buy Penny a GIFT

Welcome to this week’s English lesson, where you learn a ton of new vocabulary while watching a funny scene from The Big Bang Theory.

In today’s scene, Sheldon has to buy Penny a Christmas present because that’s what everyone expects of him. Compulsive as Sheldon is, he has to buy Penny a present with the same worth as the one he receives from Penny.

However, as Sheldon doesn’t know what he is getting from Penny, he had to buy numerous gifts for her. He will then decide on the spot which one he will give her.

For optimal results, please follow the five steps in the prescribed order:
  1. Watch with Subtitles
  2. Read the Transcript
  3. Learn the Vocabulary and Phrases
  4. Test yourself by watching the whole scene again
  5. Test yourself with some quiz questions

Step 1: Watch with Subtitles

Step 2: Read the Transcript

Sheldon: Mmm, great news, Leonard, I’ve solved my Penny gift dilemma.

Leonard: Yippee.

Sheldon: You see, the danger was that I might under- or over-reciprocate, but I have devised a foolproof plan. I will open her gift to me first and then excuse myself, feigning digestive distress. Then I’ll look up the price of her gift online, choose the basket closest to that value, give it to her, and then I’ll return the others for a full refund.

Leonard: Brilliant.

Sheldon: It is, isn’t it? Is it okay if I hide them in your room? The smell makes me nauseated.

Leonard: Do whatever you want.

Sheldon: Thank you, that’s very gracious. Gentlemen.

Howard: Why couldn’t you have just done what Leonard did and get Penny a new boyfriend?

Step 3: Learn the Vocabulary

compulsive = The word compulsive describes someone like Shelon, who cannot stop doing something. An inner voice tells him to do it, and he cannot not do it.

Example: He’s just a compulsive liar.

on the spot = immediately

Example: The directors met with him and offered him the role on the spot.

dilemma = a situation in which a difficult choice has to be made between two or more different things you could do

Example: Now he has been offered the other job, which puts him in a bit of a dilemma.

to reciprocate = to do something for someone because the person has done something similar for you

In that case, as Sheldon neither wants to under- nor over-reciprocate, he wants to spend precisely the same amount on the gift as Penny does.

Example: We gave them information, but they didn’t reciprocate.

to devise a plan = If you devise a plan, you have the idea for it and design it.

You can can also devise a system, object, game, etc.

Example: He’s good at devising language games that you can play with students in class.

a foolproof plan = so simple and easy to understand that it is unable to go wrong

You can use the word “foolproof” with other words too. Like a foolproof way or a foolproof system.

Example: I don’t believe there’s any such thing as a foolproof system for making money.

to feign = to pretend to have a feeling or condition

Example: He feigned sickness so he wouldn’t have to go to school.

distress = a situation in which you are suffering from something

An example would be digestive distress, which relates to the digestion of food.

Please note that distress typically relates to a very intense feeling. It is usually associated with extreme sorrow, suffering, or pain.

Example: She claimed that the way she had been treated at work had caused her extreme emotional and psychological distress.

refund = an amount of money that is given back to you

Example: I took the radio back to the shop and asked for / demanded a refund.

You can use the word refund also as a verb. Then you refund somebody who asked for it or who is eligible for a refund.

Example: The holiday was canceled, so the travel agency had to refund the price of the tickets.

to nauseate = to cause someone to feel as if they are going to vomit

In this case, the bath items Sheldon bought for Penny radiate an intense smell. That smell makes Sheldon nauseated. So he asks Leonard if he could store the baskets in his room instead.

Example: The smell of the fish nauseated her.

gracious = behaving in a pleasant and polite way; kind

Example: It was very gracious (= kind) of him to offer us a place to stay.

Step 4: Watch without Subtitles

Step 5: Take the Test

Sheldon Has to Buy Penny a GIFT

1 / 5

Sheldon is compulsive because ...

2 / 5

Sheldon neither wants to under- nor over-........

3 / 5

Sheldon wanted to devise a ....... plan

4 / 5

What does "to feign" mean?

5 / 5

Which one of the words has a negative connotation?

Your score is


(Season 2, Episode 11 of The Big Bang Theory: The Bath Item Gift Hypothesis | Definitions and example sentences in the video are partly taken from the Cambridge and Collins Dictionary.)

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By Martin

Martin is the main contributor to this website. He loves to watch funny English sitcoms and inspirational videos and to read English books of different genres. Now, he wants to share his experience with you by posting funny and meaningful English lessons based on the sitcoms, videos, and books he loves so much.

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