Archive for the ‘the English language’ Category

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I won’t tolerate it! Replacing formal words with phrasal verbs.

April 1, 2015

by Liz Walter​
tolerate_phasalverbs
When you are using a language, it is important to understand if a word is formal or informal, so that you can use it in an appropriate way. You might hear people saying dosh for money, or spud for potato, but they wouldn’t write those words in a formal essay. Similarly, a lawyer’s letter might include very formal terms such as heretofore or pursuant to, but nobody uses them in speech or informal writing.

Learners sometimes have problems with this issue when they try to avoid phrasal verbs by using a single word verb instead. This is particularly true when they have a similar word in their own language, for example tolerate in English and tolérer in French or tolerar in Spanish. Although the meaning is the same, tolerate is a more formal word in English. In speech, we would be much more likely to say put up with: I don’t know how she puts up with his behaviour. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The way we move (Verbs for walking and running)

March 25, 2015

by Kate Woodford​​​​
waywemove
This week we’re looking at interesting ways to describe the way that people move. Most of the verbs that we’ll be considering describe how fast or slow people move. Others describe the attitude or state of mind of the person walking or running. Some describe both.

Starting with verbs for walking slowly, if we stroll, we walk slowly and in a relaxed way, usually for pleasure: They were strolling along the shore, holding hands. The noun ‘stroll’ is also used: We went for a stroll down near the river. (The adjective ‘leisurely’, meaning ‘relaxed and without hurrying’ is often used before the noun: We were just enjoying a leisurely stroll in the sunshine.) A slightly less common verb with a very similar meaning is saunter: He sauntered by, without a care in the world. Read the rest of this entry ?

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The woman who gave me the flowers: how to construct relative clauses.

March 18, 2015

by Liz Walter​
relative clauses
There are two main types of relative clause. One is for making it clear who or what we are talking about. Teachers call this type ‘defining relative clauses’, and they don’t have commas around them:

The woman who gave me the flowers is my neighbour.

This is the chair that I bought yesterday.

For these relative clauses, we use who for people, which for things, and (especially in speech) that for either people or things.

The other type is for giving extra information. These are called ‘non-defining relative clauses’, and they do have commas:

The woman, who was a friend of mine, gave me some flowers.

The furniture, which was very old, belonged to my father. Read the rest of this entry ?

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New words – 16 March 2015

March 16, 2015

workie

workie noun informal someone doing unpaid work experience

The Indy website is largely run by young journalists on short contracts, or even none at all, as an email sent out last year looking for an unpaid ‘workie’ to moderate the website showed.

[Private Eye (UK satirical magazine) 08 August 2014]

 

precrastinate verb to do a task well in advance of a deadline simply in order to cross an item off a to-do list. The task may well be a displacement activity for another more urgent and more onerous task.

To procrastinate or to precrastinate? Let’s put off the decision!

[http://lakkis.eu 23 July 2014]

the substitution myth noun the belief that replacing part of a job a person does with a computer or machine will not change how people do their work

What we have found through research is that the substitution myth is in fact a myth, that when you hand over some aspect of work to a computer you change the fundamental nature of the work.

[WNYC: Leonard Lopate Show (culture and society interviews) 30 September 2014]

About new words

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Three for a quid: talking about money

March 11, 2015

by Liz Walter​
threeforaquid
When teaching an intermediate class recently, I was surprised to find that very few of the students (who were from various parts of the world) knew how to say prices, so this blog will explain this very basic function and also look at some other vocabulary connected with money.

First, the prices. There is more than one correct way to say a price, but the most common one is simply to say the number of pounds followed by the number of pence (or the number of dollars followed by the number of cents):

£3.50 ‘Three fifty’

$4.95 ‘Four ninety five’

Sometimes we also say the words pounds, pence, dollars, or cents in the price. There is no difference, and neither way is better or worse. In American English, if you use these words, you have to say and in the middle. In British English, you can say and or leave it out: Read the rest of this entry ?

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Euphemisms (Words used to Avoid Offending People)

March 4, 2015

by Kate Woodford​​​​
euphemisms
We recently looked at the language that we use to describe lies and lying. One area of lying that we considered was ‘being slightly dishonest, or not speaking the complete truth’. One reason for not speaking the complete truth is to avoid saying something that might upset or offend people. Words and phrases that we use to avoid being offensive or upsetting are called euphemisms and there are a great number of them in the English language. Many euphemisms are known by native speakers of English, but are rarely used. Some are used to be intentionally humorous while others are very much part of normal, current English. Here, we focus on the last set – those euphemisms that genuinely are used by English speakers today to express things more gently or politely.

Not surprisingly, some of the most frequently heard euphemisms relate to death. A lot of people do not like to say that someone has died. It sounds too direct, perhaps even a bit shocking. They prefer instead to use the gentler phrasal verb pass away: I’m afraid her mum passed away yesterday. Another euphemistic way to say that someone has died is to say that you have lost someone: She lost her father only recently. Similarly, when people take a very sick or old pet to a veterinary surgeon in order to have it painlessly killed, they often say they have had the pet put to sleep: We’re all sad today, having had our beloved dog, Daisy, put to sleep. Read the rest of this entry ?

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Lies, lies, lies!

February 25, 2015

by Kate Woodford​​​​
lies,lies,lies
According to sociologists (=people who study the relationships between people living in groups), we are good at lying. As a species, we have developed a remarkable ability to deceive each other (= persuade each other that something false is true). Being able to say things that are not true can help with relationships, apparently, and helps us to work together as a community. This may sound strange, (surely lying is wrong?), but when we think about it, most of us occasionally say things that are not completely true, and often for the best of reasons. This week, then, we’re looking at the language of lies – big lies and little lies, bad lies and good.

Let’s start with those ‘innocent’ lies. White lies; are those lies that most of us tell in order to be polite or to stop someone from being upset when the truth is bad. People sometimes use the informal noun and verb fib to mean the same thing. ‘Fib’ is defined in the Cambridge advanced Learner’s Dictionary as ‘a small lie that does not cause any harm’. The word is often used by children and the collocation is to ‘tell a fib’. Read the rest of this entry ?

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