Highly delighted, bitterly disappointed, ridiculously cheap: adverbs for emphasis.

October 22, 2014

by Liz Walter
We often make adjectives stronger by putting an adverb in front of them. The most common ones are very and, for a stronger meaning, extremely:

He was very pleased.

The ship is extremely large.

However, we don’t use very or extremely for adjectives that already have a strong meaning, for example fantastic, delighted, huge, furious. For these, the most common adverb is absolutely. Utterly is even stronger, and is usually used for adjectives with a negative meaning:

This apartment is absolutely perfect for us.

At the end of the day, I was utterly exhausted.

Really is slightly informal, and used both with strong adjectives and other adjectives:

Your shoes are really dirty.

Her bedroom is really tiny. Read the rest of this entry »


New words – 20 October 2014

October 20, 2014


life tracking noun the use of one or more devices or apps to monitor health, exercise, how time is spent, etc.

[Tikker] is the latest – and perhaps the creepiest – device in the tech-driven trend toward what is called life tracking.

[AARP The Magazine (US over-50s magazine) June 2014]


IoT abbreviation internet of things; appliances and devices that connect wirelessly to the Internet to receive instructions from users

Like most tech that the government chooses to invest in, I have a sinking feeling that the PM couldn’t actually define the IoT.

[PC pro (UK special interest magazine) June 2014]

spim noun spam that is delivered via internet messaging

One of the most effective ways for you to protect yourself from Spim is to block messages from people, who are not on your buddy list, or to create a permission list and only allow messages from those you put on it.

[http://www.compuchenna.co.uk/ 03 April 2014]

About new words


The language of work

October 15, 2014

by Kate Woodford
Most of us talk about our jobs. We tell our family and friends interesting or funny things that have happened in the workplace (=room where we do our job), we describe – and sometimes complain about – our bosses and colleagues and when we meet someone for the first time, we tell them what our jobs are. Here, then, is a selection of English vocabulary to help you to speak about your work.

A career is a job or number of jobs of a similar type that a person does over a long period: I’d always wanted a career in teaching./I wasn’t interested in an academic career. The word profession is used in a similar way, but always refers to work that needs a lot of education and training: the medical/legal profession. Note that ‘profession’ also means the people who do a particular type of work: The medical profession is always looking to improve patient care. Read the rest of this entry »


New words – 13 October 2014

October 13, 2014


spoonula noun a cooking implement that is a combination of a spoon and a spatula

Pour the mixture back into the pan and cook on low-medium, scraping and folding the mixture with a silicone spoonula (I love this one).

[thehhouseblog.com 06 April 2014]


clean eating noun the dietary practice of avoiding processed, refined foods and eating fresh wholefoods

Take BuzzFeed’s Clean Eating Challenge, Feel Like A Champion At Life

[www.buzzfeed.com 07 May 2014]

nanofood noun food containing nanoparticles of silver to prevent spoilage and prolong shelf life

‘Major food companies are investing billions in nanofood and nanopackaging,’ Friends of the Earth stated in a 2014 report.

[m.motherjones.com 11 June 2014]

About new words


Just get on with it! Phrasal verbs with ‘get’.

October 8, 2014

by Liz Walter
My last blog about phrasal verbs attracted a lot of comments. Many of them were from people who find phrasal verbs difficult. One reason is that so many of them are formed with very common verbs such as get, give, set, or put.

I totally understand why this is a problem, and as I often say to my students, I do apologise for the English language! However, saying sorry won’t help, so here is the first in a series of blogs looking at phrasal verbs formed with common verbs, in this case get.

Firstly, it may sound obvious, but start by learning the most common phrasal verbs. A good place to begin is with a small learner’s dictionary. For example, the Cambridge Essential Dictionary, written for beginners, has only 9 phrasal verbs with get. In other words, the people who wrote that dictionary have already chosen the most useful ones for you. Read the rest of this entry »


New words – 6 October 2014

October 6, 2014


pollen vortex noun extremely high levels of pollen caused by the simultaneous blooming of trees and grass as a result of the prolonged and harsh winter

Allergy season is the worst. And in case you haven’t heard, this year’s allergy season is going to be the worst of the worst, with a ‘pollen vortex’ set to torture us all for a full two weeks straight. A pollen VORTEX, people — this is no joke.

[www.phillymag.com 23 April 2014]

fire ice noun methane hydrate, a potential fuel source found under ocean beds and layers of permafrost

Otherwise known as fire ice, methane hydrate presents as ice crystals with natural methane gas locked inside.

[www.bbc.co.uk 17 April 2014]

fracktivist noun an anti-fracking campaigner

Teenage dramatics and fracktivist rhetoric make for a scary combination.

[www.youtube.com 06.05.14]

We can’t live in Colorado when our elected officials that are paid by your tax dollars are not working on behalf of you and the environment of Colorado,’ said fracktivist leader Shane Davis, who acts as the film’s narrator. ‘We’ve got a huge struggle. We have a compromise bill that Jared Polis is happily accepting.’

[thecoloradoobserver.com 12 June 2014]

About new words


What a lovely dress! Paying and accepting compliments.

October 1, 2014

by Liz Walter
Paying compliments (telling someone that you like something about them) is an important part of communication, not only between friends but also at work and in other situations. This blog looks at phrases you can use not only to give someone a compliment but also – often harder – to accept a compliment in a polite and friendly way.


There are several simple phrases that can be used in lots of situations:


What a lovely dress/photo/garden!

I love/really like your apartment/poem/hair/coat!


However, most compliments depend on what it is you want to praise. For example, for clothes you could say:


You look lovely in that dress/those trousers.

You’re looking very smart today.

That jacket/colour really suits you. Read the rest of this entry »


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