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 »


New words – 29 September 2014

September 29, 2014


loom band noun a very small, brightly-coloured rubber band which is woven together with others in a variety of configurations to make bracelets and other items

The Duchess of Cambridge wore a loom band bracelet on her recent trip to New Zealand, and David Beckham, One Direction’s Harry Styles and the Duchess of Cornwall have done the same.

[www.bbc.co.uk 25.06.14]

velaterapia noun a treatment for split ends that involves burning the hair and which originated in Brazil

Brazilian model Barbara Fialho, who has walked the runway for Victoria’s Secret, swears by velaterapia – a procedure which uses an open flame to burn off spit ends.

[http://www.dailymail.co.uk/ 17.06.14]

normcore noun a fashion trend for bland, undistinguished clothes

Normcore is the antithesis of the highly stylized, dark-denim, vintage-tee hipster look.

[www.vox.com 16.04.14]

About new words


An introduction to phrasal verbs

September 24, 2014

by Liz Walter
All students of English need to learn phrasal verbs! A phrasal verb is a verb and a particle (e.g. up, off, over) used together. Phrasal verbs may seem difficult, but you probably know some already:

I wake up at 7 o’clock.

He puts on his coat.

Sit down, please.


It is often impossible to guess the meaning of a phrasal verb from the meaning of the verb. For example, if you give up smoking, you stop smoking, and if you carry on doing something, you continue to do it. You have to learn the meaning of these phrasal verbs in just the same way as you do with a single verb. Read the rest of this entry »


New words – 22 September 2014

September 22, 2014


IIFYM abbreviation if it fits your macros; refers to a type of diet (often favoured by sportspeople) that allows people to eat what they want as long as their diet contains the right number of calories and macronutrients (fats, carbs, etc)

For those of you that follow iifym how do you insure to meet the requirements for carbs protein and fat at the end of the day?

[www.myfitnesspal.com 27 February 2014]

Mint abbreviation the countries of Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey considered together as they are thought to be possible emerging economic giants

So what is it about the so-called Mint countries that makes them so special? Why these four countries?

[www.bbc.co.uk 06 January 2014]

Sindie noun (a woman who fits the description of) single income now divorced

Luxury brands are reporting booming sales of erotic products from a new group of women known as ‘Sindies’.

[www.dailymail.co.uk/ 26 March 2014]

About new words


A bit up and down – describing emotion with metaphors of height

September 17, 2014

by Liz Walter
Metaphor is when we use the word for one thing to describe the characteristics of another. For example, if we say ‘This city is a jungle’, we mean that the city is a wild and dangerous place.

That is a clear and obvious example of metaphor, but there are metaphorical ideas that are so common in our language that we hardly notice them. George Lakoff and Mark Johnson wrote about this in their famous book Metaphors We Live By. They say that these ideas are so much a part of our language that they actually affect the way we think and behave.

In this blog I want to look at one example – using words connected with height to describe happiness and depth to describe sadness. Lakoff and Johnson call this an orientational metaphor, meaning that it describes position in space. Read the rest of this entry »


New words – 15 September 2014

September 15, 2014


cryptocurrency noun a generic term for bitcoin-type e-currencies

Why are cryptocurrencies valuable? In the case of Bitcoin, because it was the first and is by far the largest, receiving the majority of monetary and media attention, with the one harmoniously building the other.


[http://techcrunch.com 15 February 2014]

life-tracking adjective describes wearable gadgets which record daily activities, such as exercise and sleep, and also keep a record of things done during the day, for example the number of photos the wearer takes

Sony Mobile president and CEO Kuni Suzuki took the stage at the tail end of Sony’s CES press conference to show off what he called ‘the tiniest gadget Sony has ever made’ — the life-tracking Sony Core.

[http://techcrunch.com 07 January 2014]

doxxing noun the activity of publicly revealing someone’s identity and other personal information online

This kind of outing, known as ‘doxxing’, involves scouring the Internet for personal data [...] and then publicly linking that information to the perpetrator’s transgression.

[New York Times Magazine (US news magazine) 19 January 2014]

About new words


The Language of Losing

September 10, 2014

by Kate Woodford
Recently on this blog we looked at the idioms and collocations that we use to describe winning. Sadly, for every winner, there is a loser so this week, we’re looking at a set of less happy phrases – those that we use to describe losing.

Starting with the verb ‘lose’ itself, note that one person or side loses to another person or side: They lost to Liverpool on Saturday.

Moving on to the much used word ‘defeat’, a person or team that loses may be said to suffer defeat: England suffered defeat in their World Cup opener. If they lose by many goals or points, the result may be described as a crushing defeat, a humiliating defeat or even a resounding defeat: Van Gaal’s side suffered a humiliating defeat in the second round of the League Cup on Tuesday./This was a crushing defeat for the reigning champion. When, on the other hand, a person or team loses by very few goals or points, the result is sometimes described as a narrow defeat: United experienced a narrow defeat to Lucena in their opening game in Marbella. The phrase be narrowly defeated is also often used: The reserve side were narrowly defeated on Saturday in a pre-season run out against City. Read the rest of this entry »


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