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ELL Guide

A guide for ELL (English Language Learners) at the University of Maine at Augusta

Definition & Explanation

"To sleep in" means to sleep past your regular time you usually get up in the morning or have to get up.

So for instance, if you normally get up at 6am, but on this particular day you woke up at 8:30am, that means you “slept in.”  

Sometimes ELLs will use awkward constructions to express this sentiment because they are unaware of the phrasal verb “to sleep in.”  They may say, “I slept late.”  This is not necessarily incorrect, but it is not the common construction and could be confused with “I went to sleep late,” which does have a completely different meaning than “I slept in.”   


I cherish Sunday mornings, because that is the one day in the week I get to sleep in.  


I am jealous of my roommate because when I get up in the morning to go to work, she gets to sleep in as long as she wants.  


I actually don’t like sleeping in because it makes me feel unproductive.   If I sleep in, it is hard for me to start studying.  


When I was registering for classes, I chose all afternoon classes so that I can sleep in every morning.  


I was so exhausted after taking my last exam on Final Weeks, that I slept in really late the next day.   


I asked other students which dorm is the quietest at UMA, because I really like to sleep in and I don’t want to be woken up by a lot of noise in the mornings.   



What can be tricky about phrasal verbs is that there is always the chance that they can be mistaken with the regular verb plus the preposition.  


For instance, did you sleep in your bed last night or did you sleep on the couch? 

In this case, the regular verb “sleep” is used with the preposition “in” in reference to the location where one slept just as “on” is used with the regular verb sleep in reference to the couch.  The fact that different prepositions are used for sleeping “in” a bed versus “on” a couch makes things all the trickier.  


Did you sleep in your bedroom or in the living room last night? 

Again, here the same preposition “in” is used with the regular verb “sleep.”  


Or, did you sleep in your pajamas or your t-shirt?  

Again, this is not the phrasal verb “sleep in”; this is the regular verb “sleep” plus the preposition “in.”


I always sleep in when I sleep in my pajamas but I never sleep in when I sleep in my t-shirt because it is not as comfortable.  

In this case the first and third “sleep in"s are the phrasal verbs, while the second and fourth are the regular verb plus the preposition.


Did you sleep in the dorm or did you sleep in your parent’s house? 

In this case, both examples are the regular verb plus the preposition.  Neither are phrasal verbs.


1) Jennifer normally wakes up at 6am, but yesterday she woke up at 9 in the morning.  Did she sleep in?  


2) Fatima normally wakes up at 7:30 am everyday.  Yesterday, she woke up at 7:30 am like she normally does.  Did she sleep in?  


3) Juan normally wakes up at 5am.  But Tuesday he woke up at 10am.  Did Juan sleep in on Tuesday?   


4) Gerry normally wakes up at 5am, but on Saturday and Sunday he wakes up around 9am. 

His roommate Ahmed normally wakes up at 6:30am most days, but on Mondays he wakes up at 11:30am.  

Of the two roommates, who normally sleeps in more days of the week–Gerry or Ahmed?  

5) Did you sleep in this morning?  


6) What day of the week do you usually sleep in?  


7) Do you enjoy sleeping in?


1)  Yes

2)  No

3)  Yes

4)  Gerry  

5)  Either Yes or No is fine, depending on the person. 

6)  Answers will vary, but could be any day of the week--Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.  

7) Either Yes or No is correct, depending on the person. 

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