An article of clothing and a ray of sunshine: making uncountable nouns countable (2)

Mike Powles/Stone/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

My last post introduced the topic of adding words to uncountable nouns so that they can be used in a countable way. In that post, I concentrated on food words. Today, we will look at some other topics. Continue reading “An article of clothing and a ray of sunshine: making uncountable nouns countable (2)”

New words – 1 March 2021

guenterguni / E+ / Getty

zombie storm noun [C]
UK /ˌzɒˈstɔːm/ US /ˌzɑːˈstɔːrm/
a type of storm that dies out but then gathers more energy and returns

Paulette regained strength and became a tropical storm once more about 300 miles (480 kilometers) away from the Azores Islands on Monday (Sept. 21), according to CNN. The term “zombie storm” is new, and though the phenomenon has been recorded before, it is thought to be rare.
[, 25 September 2020]

heat blob noun [C]
UK /ˈhiːt.blɒb/ US /ˈhiːt.blɑːb/
an area of relatively warm water in the middle of an ocean

An underwater heat blob from the Atlantic is delivering more and more warmth to the Arctic, causing sea ice to rapidly melt, a study has found. The research shows that the amount of heat delivered to the Arctic Ocean and the Nordic Seas by ocean currents has increased markedly since 2001.
[, 24 November 2020]

super-Earth noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.pər.ɜːθ/ US /ˈsuː.pɚ.ɝːθ/
a planet outside our solar system that is similar to Earth but larger, and could be habitable by humans

In the last 30 years, scientists have discovered more than 4,000 exoplanets, or planets outside our own solar system. Their latest discovery, however, is a bit of a doozy. Earlier this week, a team of researchers announced the discovery of TOI-561b, a rocky exoplanet that’s been deemed a “super-Earth.” It’s located about 280 light-years away.
[, 14 January 2021]

About new words

Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)

SeventyFour/iStock/Getty Images Plus

by Kate Woodford

Readers of this blog often ask us for conversational English. They want to learn phrases for chatting informally with friends and colleagues. To help with this, some of our blog posts focus on the sort of conversations that we all have during the course of a day or a week. In this post, we’re looking at what you can say on a Monday when someone asks ‘How was your weekend?’ Continue reading “Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)”

New words – 22 February 2021

Ulrike Schmitt-Hartmann / Moment / Getty

cloffice noun [C]
UK /ˈklɒf.ɪs/ US /ˈklɑːf.ɪs/
a closet that has been turned into a small office space

Cloffices are particularly useful in smaller homes and apartments where square footage is tight. And you don’t need a spacious walk-in closet to make it work. The basic setup requires a desktop surface, storage, and a chair or stool that can easily fit inside a reach-in bedroom closet or a linen closet in the hallway.
[Better Homes and Gardens, 11 January 2021]

virtual commute noun [C]
UK /ˌvɜː.tʃu.əl.kəˈmjuːt/ US /ˌvɝː.tʃu.əl.kəˈmjuːt/
a way for people who work from home to separate their working hours from their personal time more easily

If there’s one thing remote workers probably don’t miss about going into the office, it’s the commute. Microsoft, however, disagrees. The company announced that it is working on a new feature for its Teams platform that will allow remote workers to schedule virtual commutes. The idea is to help give workers a solid separation between work and home, a time before and after work each day where they can reflect and set goals without work or home getting in the way.
[, 30 September 2020]

work from anywhere noun [U]
UK /ˌwɜːk.frəm.ˈen.i.weəʳ/ US /ˌwɝːk.frɑːm.ˈen.i.wer/
the activity of working remotely from any location, not necessarily at home

We learned that a great many of us don’t in fact need to be colocated with colleagues on-site to do our jobs. Individuals, teams, entire workforces, can perform well while being entirely distributed—and they have. So now we face new questions: Are all-remote or majority-remote organizations the future of knowledge work? Is work from anywhere (WFA) here to stay?
[Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 2020]

About new words

A grain of rice and a clove of garlic: making uncountable nouns countable (1)

fcafotodigital/E+/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

You probably already know that you can use many uncountable nouns in a countable way with words such as piece or bit:

I ate a small piece of cheese.

Why don’t you add a bit of cream?

However, we can also use more interesting and specific words. Today’s post will look at how we do this with food and my next post will look at other topics such as weather and emotions.

We often use the names of containers when we talk about amounts of food. These might be items of crockery or cutlery, for example bowl, plate, cup, glass, tablespoon or teaspoon, or items of packaging such as packet, bottle, can, carton, tub or tube:

I ordered a bowl of soup.

Add a teaspoon of salt.

She ate a whole tub of ice cream.

It is also common to use words that indicate the shape of an amount of food, for instance slice, sliver, hunk, chunk, lump or slab:

The soup contained large chunks of beef.

I used a whole slab of chocolate in the dessert.

The words portion or serving indicates an amount sufficient for one person. We use mouthful for any food or drink. We also use sip, slurp, gulp and swig for amounts of liquid we swallow at one time:

There are four portions of stew in the pan.

The recipe makes four to six servings.

He ate a few mouthfuls of rice.

I only had a sip of tea.

With foods that consist of many very small parts, such as rice, sugar or salt we often use grain, while for liquids, we often use drop. Other words are more closely linked to specific liquids, for instance a dash (UK)/splash (US) of milk or a glug of oil:

Use a fork to separate the grains of rice.

I like a dash (UK)/splash (US) of milk in my tea.

Other words that are usually used with specific foods are a pinch of salt and a knob of butter:

Add a pinch of salt to the boiling water.

He fried the fish in a knob of butter.

Several words that make uncountable foods countable relate to the action you use with them. For example, we can talk about a squeeze of lemon juice, a grind of pepper, a sprinkling/dusting of icing sugar (UK)/confectioner’s sugar (US), cocoa powder, etc. and a drizzle of olive oil, honey, etc.

Give the risotto a few good grinds of pepper.

Serve the figs with a drizzle of honey.

Finally, there is a group of nouns that describe single parts of a type of food. For instance we talk about cloves of garlic, sweetcorn (UK)/corn (US) kernels, orange/grapefruit segments and coffee beans:

Chop two cloves of garlic.

The sweetcorn (UK)/corn (US) kernels add a lovely texture to the salad.

Food is such an enormous topic, there are probably many more ways of talking about amounts of it, but I hope this post has covered the main ones and helped to explain the idea of how we can use uncountable nouns in a countable way.

New words – 15 February 2021

Halfdark / Getty

zombie battery noun [C]
UK /ˌzɒˈbæt.ᵊr.i/ US /ˌzɑːˈbæt̬.ɚ.i/
a used battery that gets thrown away or added to normal household recycling

“Zombie batteries” have caused hundreds of fires at waste management facilities and recycling plants, endangering workers’ health, according to campaigners … If they are not recycled properly and end up in household waste, dead batteries can still cause dangerous incidents, hence the nickname “zombie”.
[, 26 October 2020]

decomponentise verb [T]
UK /ˌdiːkəmˈpəʊ.nənt.aɪz/ US /ˌdiːkəmˈpoʊ.nənt.aɪz/
to remove the individual components of a device such as a mobile phone in order to recycle them

“Your old phone should go back to the manufacturer, who can ‘decomponentise’ it and put all of its materials back into the system, to make new phones or feed them into a different industry,” she says. The foundation’s research shows that this would reduce manufacturing costs by up to 50 per cent per device.
[, 22 October 2020]

rollable adjective
UK /ˈrəʊl.ə.bᵊl/ US /ˈroʊl.ə.bᵊl/
used to describe a mobile phone whose screen can be expanded into the size of a tablet

Still, LG isn’t the only company working on a rollable phone – the Oppo X 2021 concept phone also rolls, as does a concept device from TCL. There’s no guarantee either of those will ever actually go on sale, but sooner or later there are likely to be multiple rollable phones on the market, so hopefully some of them are affordable.
[, 13 January 2021]

About new words

Blood is thicker than water. (Idioms with ‘water’, Part 2)

Peter Cade/Stone/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

This is the second of two posts on idioms that contain the word ‘water’. On this blog, we always try to provide you with commonly used, contemporary idioms and this post is no exception!

If you say you will do something come hell or high water, you mean you are very determined to do it, whatever difficulties you may face: I’m going to be at that ceremony next year, come hell or high water! Continue reading “Blood is thicker than water. (Idioms with ‘water’, Part 2)”

New words – 8 February 2021

Laura Hedien / Moment / Getty

anthropause noun [S]
UK /ˈæn.θrə.pɔːz/ US /ˈæn.θrə.pɑːz/
a period of time during which human activity and movement is greatly reduced

Over the past few months, many countries around the world went into lockdown to control the spread of COVID-19. Brought about by the most tragic circumstances, this period of unusually reduced human mobility — which we suggest be coined ‘anthropause’ — may provide important insights into human–wildlife interactions in the twenty-first century.
[, 22 June 2020]

frugal bottle noun [C]
UK /ˌfruː.gᵊl.ˈbɒt.ᵊl/ US /ˌfruː.gᵊl.ˈbɑː.t̬ᵊl/
a type of bottle made from recycled paper, normally used to hold wine or other drinks

Although glass can be recycled, it is very carbon-intensive to make. The frugal bottle, made from recycled paperboard, is five times lighter than a glass one and has a carbon footprint up to six times (84%) lower than a glass bottle.
[, 20 December 2020]

carbon counting noun [U]
UK /ˈkɑː.bᵊn.kaʊnt.ɪŋ/ US /ˈkɑːr.bᵊn.kaʊnt.ɪŋ/
the activity of calculating what impact the food and drink we consume has on the environment

Environmentally conscious foodies and restaurateurs are turning their attention to the planet’s health with “carbon counting”. Vegan milk brand Oatly will be labelling its products with carbon dioxide equivalents (CO2e) [and] east London’s newest hipster hangout Kraft Dalston is reducing its CO2 footprint by 75 per cent by eliminating unnecessary packaging and deliveries.
[, 3 January 2021]

About new words

Rome wasn’t built in a day: Phrases with place names

Harald Nachtmann/Moment/Getty Images

by Liz Walter

At the end of last year, I wrote a post about phrases containing people’s names, which generated quite a lot of interest. I hope you will also enjoy this post about phrases based on place names.

Continue reading “Rome wasn’t built in a day: Phrases with place names”

New words – 1 February 2021

Justin Paget /Stone / Getty

slow map noun [C]
UK /ˈsləʊ.mæp/ US /ˈsloʊ.mæp/
a map that shows the best walking routes between different places

Part of the government’s official transport advice during the pandemic has been “walk, if you can” … However, once you venture away from your local neighbourhood, it is not always obvious how to find the best walking route to a nearby village or – if you are feeling adventurous – a neighbouring town or city. That’s what is hoped will be solved with the slow map.
[, 16 October 2020]

sound walk noun [C]
UK /ˈsaʊnd.wɔːk/ US /ˈsaʊnd.wɑːk/
a walk during which the person walking concentrates on listening to the sounds around them, or listens to a recording of music or a narration designed to accompany the walking route

Despite the logistical challenges of creating sound walks during the pandemic, entries are up 44% this year, and the number of people registering to attend Sound Walk September events (which went virtual this year) quadrupled. Designed to be experienced in isolation, the sound walks experience feels like the perfect fit for the very deep hole we currently find ourselves in.
[, 16 November 2020]

walking around video noun [C]
UK /ˌwɔː.kɪŋ.əˈraʊnd.vɪd.i.əʊ/ US /ˌwɑː.kɪŋ.əˈraʊnd.vɪd.i.oʊ/
a video posted on a social media platform of someone walking around a particular town or city, designed to give the viewer a virtual tour

Sometimes, though, all our frayed nerves and bored brains crave is a sense of return to pre-Covid public life, casual social interaction, streetscapes and regional citybreaks … Enter “walking around videos,” a burgeoning YouTube trend that’s flown under the radar for years but has quietly garnered millions upon millions of views, especially in recent months.
[, 20 August 2020]

About new words