Commenting on developments in the English language
Author: Liz Walter
Liz Walter is a freelance lexicographer and writer, living in Cambridge, UK. She worked for many years on Cambridge University Press's range of ELT dictionaries and now works with Kate Woodford on dictionaries and other books about the English language. Her other interests include politics, growing vegetables and family holidays in her camper van.
She’s just pulling your leg – she doesn’t really expect you to do all the cooking.
You have a pet lion? Pull the other one!
We use ‘pull’ in several idioms connected with people making an effort and doing what they should do. If someone pulls their weight, they do their share of the work and if you pull out all the stops, you make as much effort as possible to ensure that something is successful or impressive.
Anyone who doesn’t pull their weight will have to leave the project.
They pulled out all the stops to make sure the president enjoyed his visit.
On the other hand, if someone tells you to pull your socks up, they are saying in an angry way that you should do something better.
You need to pull your socks up and start taking your studies a bit more seriously!
There are two nice ‘pull’ idioms connected with stopping things. If youpull the plug on an activity, you stop it, often by not spending any more money on it, and if you pull the rug from under someone’s feet, you suddenly stop supporting them or do something that causes serious problems for them:
They decided to pull the plug on their latest venture after disappointing sales in the first year.
We were planning a surprise party for their anniversary but they pulled the rug from under our feet by announcing they were going away on a cruise.
Phrasal verbs are a very important part of English (even if students hate them!) and I have written several posts explaining useful ones. I realised recently that there is a surprisingly large number of phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs relating to emotions. Today I am going to concentrate on happiness and sadness. My next post will cover some other emotions, and a final post will present a selection of phrasal verbs for talking more generally about emotions. Continue reading “Weighed down or perking up? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 1”→
Food shopping is something that nearly all of us do, and it is the kind of basic topic that is often quite difficult in another language. This post looks at some words and phrases you might need if you go to a supermarket in an English-speaking country. Note that — as so often with everyday language — there are lots of differences between UK and US vocabulary. Continue reading “Eggs are in aisle 3: the language of supermarket shopping”→
I’ve written a couple of posts on collocations (word partners) recently, and a reader suggested some specific collocation topics, one of which was the environment. Climate change is in the news a lot, particularly because of the campaigning of the Swedish schoolgirl, Greta Thunberg. So here are some collocations to help you talk about this vitally important topic.
July 30th is the United Nations’ International Day of Friendship, so this post is all about words and phrases for talking about friends and friendship.
A friend can be anyone you like and spend time with, so we use adjectives to say how much we like or love someone. A good friend or a close friend is someone you spend a lot of time with and care very much about, and your best friend is the person you love most of all:
When we experience pain, it can be important to be able to describe it accurately. The most common way of talking about pain is with the verb hurt. We can say that part of our body hurts, or start a sentence with ‘It hurts …’ to explain when it is painful to do something:
Since our mind is the part of us that enables us to think and feel emotions, I suppose it’s not surprising that there are lots of phrases that include it. In this post I am going to talk about some of the most common and useful phrases.