Idiom: personal space; used as a noun.
Erica: Matt is so weird! He’s always invading my personal space.
Christina: Me too! He always stands too close. Do you think he just does it to girls?
Erica: I don’t know. Let’s ask Tom. Hey Tom!
Christina: Erica and I have a question. We noticed that Matt sometimes gets a little
too close. Does he do that to you as
Tom: Yes! He apparently doesn’t understand what personal space is.
Meaning: “Personal space”
is an invisible border around a person that is considered unacceptable to cross. While
the exact size varies by person and culture, most people feel uncomfortable if
someone else stands closer than approximately 2 feet from him/her. In the above example, Erica, Christina and Tom all
agree that Matt often stands too close; most likely, Matt’s idea of personal space is just smaller than theirs.
Notice that Erica uses the verb “invade” to describe the way
Matt crosses this invisible line; most people think of the area directly around
themselves as their own, personal space, and it is an invasion of privacy to cross it.
Here is another example:
Daniel: I hate the subway after work!
Daniel: Everyone is so crammed in there. I get claustrophobic*.
Helen: Weird. I hate when other people invade my personal space too, but it doesn’t really
bother me on the subway. I guess it’s
because I know it’s not their fault.
Daniel: You’re lucky. I flip out when strangers
are that close.
*claustrophobia is a fear of small spaces.
Meaning: In this case, Daniel and Christina are talking about the
crowded subway. For most people (like Helen), personal space invasions don’t
bother them as much when it’s caused by a crowd; however, some people (like
Daniel) are so bothered by personal space invasions that they become frightened.
This idiom is from LSI’s book “Reading
Horizons,” which is used in the Level 6 Reading classes. For more
information, please visit https://www.languagesystems.com/