Word choice: A first time for everybody

A first time for everybody

Joe stepped onto the aeroplane and was met by one of the cabin crew who showed him to his seat. This was his first flight and he was feeling quite nervous. His hands were trembling slightly and he was breathing deeply. He walked along the aisle of the plane and found his seat. Joe had spent a lot of time on planning his holiday, given this was the first time he had been abroad. Sitting next to him was an 8 year-old-boy who also appeared to be quite nervous. Joe knew he was quite good with children, so he decided to try to calm the boy. After conversing with the boy for a few minutes, Joe produced some chocolate and gave it to him. The 1.______________ then became quite cheerful as he explained that he loved chocolate so much.

The man and the boy found that they got on well together as they chatted for the whole flight. Joe discovered that they were on the same return flight the following week, which pleased them both. When they disembarked at the terminal, Joe commented about what a very good flight he’d had. The young boy agreed, saying that he was looking forward to 2.______________ Joe again on the return flight.

Choose the best word to fill the spaces.

  1. A. juvenile B. youngster
  2. A. bumping into B. catching up with

I don’t understand the difference between ‘juvenile’ and ‘youngster’ in question 1. According to the Cambridge Dictionary, both words seem suitable for completing the sentence.
Regarding the second question, I chose ‘bump into’ because it implies the young boy unexpectedly running into Joe on the return flight. However, the answer key suggests ‘catching up with,’ and I couldn’t find a meaning for that phrase that fits the context of the paragraph.

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I would use youngster and catching up with.

Juvenile usually refers to an older person, but not yet an adult. It is a near synonym with teen. It might include kids slightly younger than teens, but not much younger. It would not be used for an eight year old.

Youngster is used more broadly. It can include teens, but also younger children. It is not usually used for very young children, like preschool children.

Bumping into means to unexpectedly see someone you know. The two people in the story know beforehand that they will be on the same flight, so it is not unexpected.

Catching up with means to talk about things that have happened since the last time people talked.

Catching up on old times is closely related. It is used with long term acquaintances or friends who have not spoken for a long time. It means to talk about things from the past. It is often nostalgic.


I looked in five online dictionaries before I found it. That is surprising since it’s a very common phrase in AmE.

See definition #4.

When I was young, a VERY common way to say goodbye was “catch you later”. It means exactly the same thing as “See you later”.

“he was looking forward to ______________ Joe again on the return flight.”

Seeing Joe again
Meeting Joe again


Here’s a little different slant, but the exact same answer.

“Juvenile” carries the idea of immature or not of legal age. These might be true, but the author just wants to specify the “boy”, which would be my preferred answer. “Youngster”, or young person, would certain fit better than the other choice.

The second paragraph is about the two people talking. For the return flight they would want to talk some more, not just “bump” into each other.

“Catching up” could take the form of “How are you doing? Did you enjoy your trip? What did you do? Did you see anything Interesting?”