The icing/frosting on the cake: differences between British and American idioms

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by Liz Walter

Differences between US and UK English are particularly pronounced in informal and idiomatic language. There are lots of idioms that are used in one variety but not the other, for example go pear-shaped (to fail or go wrong) is used in British but not American English and strike pay dirt (discover something valuable) is American but not British. Continue reading “The icing/frosting on the cake: differences between British and American idioms”

He’s digging his heels in: words and phrases to describe stubborn behaviour

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by Liz Walter

We all know how frustrating it is when someone completely refuses to do something we want them to do or to accept an opinion we are sure is correct. It turns out that English is surprisingly rich in words and phrases to describe this sort of person or behaviour! Continue reading “He’s digging his heels in: words and phrases to describe stubborn behaviour”

Out of your depth: idioms that describe difficult situations

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by Liz Walter

Back in 2017, my colleague Kate Woodford wrote a post about words for difficult situations (https://dictionaryblog.cambridge.org/2017/03/22/what-a-nightmare-words-for-difficult-situations/) This post builds on that by offering a selection of idioms that enable us to describe problematic times in a more colourful way. Continue reading “Out of your depth: idioms that describe difficult situations”

At sixes and sevens: phrases with numbers

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by Liz Walter

My last two posts have covered phrases containing the numbers one and two. Today I am going to look at phrases with some higher numbers. There are a lot of them, so I am just picking out some that I think will be generally useful, but as always, please feel free to suggest others in the comments. Continue reading “At sixes and sevens: phrases with numbers”

There’s no two ways about it: phrases with the number two.

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I wrote about phrases containing the number one. Today I’m going to look at some common phrases with the number two. Continue reading “There’s no two ways about it: phrases with the number two.”

Stay one step ahead with phrases containing the number one!

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by Liz Walter

It is quite astonishing how many English phrases contain numbers, so this is the first in a mini-series looking at some of the most useful of them. Today, I’m starting – very logically! – with the number one. Continue reading “Stay one step ahead with phrases containing the number one!”

A new coat of paint: the language of decorating

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I looked at general language for home improvements. This post will focus on one specific area: decorating. As you will see, there are lots of nice collocations associated with this topic. Continue reading “A new coat of paint: the language of decorating”

Home improvements: the language of making and repairing things in your home

by Liz Walter

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Apparently, a lot of people who are either in lockdown or working from home because of the pandemic are using their extra time to do jobs in the home, so this post offers some words and phrases to talk about these tasks.

Continue reading “Home improvements: the language of making and repairing things in your home”

I feel like my life’s on hold: Language for describing uncertain times.

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by Liz Walter

With many people around the world in some form of lockdown and almost everyone affected by the pandemic in some way, I thought it might be useful to offer some language suitable for talking about living in a climate of uncertainty (a general situation of not knowing what is going to happen). Continue reading “I feel like my life’s on hold: Language for describing uncertain times.”

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

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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)”