“How can you stand working in such a cold, sterile environment day in and day out?”

English Lesson: How can you stand working in such a cold, sterile environment day in and day out?

A friend of yours works at a health clinic. You don't like doctor's offices and hospitals because the atmosphere is scary to you. You ask your friend how he's able to work there.

How can you stand working in such a cold, sterile environment day in and day out?

How can you stand (something)?

When something seems annoying or horrible to you, but someone else doesn't seem bothered by it, you can ask "How can you stand ___?" For example, if there's some loud construction work being done outside your office, but one of your coworkers is working normally, you can ask:

How can you stand this noise?

You can also talk about things that annoy you with the expression "I can't stand ___":

I can tolerate the heat, but what I can't stand is this humidity!

work in an (adjective) environment

You can use the word "environment" to describe the situation at someone's workplace. Here are some common adjectives that people use to describe work environments:

a fast-paced work environment

work in a hostile environment

a safe work environment

work in a sterile environment

a supportive work environment

 You can use either of these patterns for any adjective:

  • work in a ___ environment
  • a ___ work environment

day in and day out

The expression "day in and day out" means "every day", but it sounds really boring, depressing, or unpleasant. People use it when they're complaining about their lives like this:

I'm tired of doing the same boring job day in and day out.

(a place) is cold and sterile

"Sterile" is a medical term which means that there are no germs on something. Things like needles, bandages, surgical tools, etc. in a hospital all need to be sterile. It's a good thing when you use "sterile" to describe tools like these.

However, when you describe a place (like a hospital or someone's home) as "cold and sterile", it's not very positive. It means that the place doesn't feel relaxing because it's too clean and uncomfortable. In this case "cold" doesn't refer to the temperature; it means that the place is emotionally cold.


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