Don’t count your chickens: proverbs in English (2)

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I introduced a few proverbs that are common in English, especially in conversations. In this one, I am going to look at some common uses of proverbs: to give warnings, to criticize, and to comfort people. I mentioned last month that some proverbs are so well-known that we often use only the first part. Where this is the case, I will show the part that can be omitted in brackets.

Continue reading “Don’t count your chickens: proverbs in English (2)”

Fools rush in: proverbs in English (1)

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by Liz Walter

Proverbs may seem rather old-fashioned or strange but when I started thinking about writing this post, I was amazed to realize how many of them are in common use. They serve as a convenient shorthand for something that would often be more complicated to say in a different way. We frequently use them at the end of a conversation to sum up what has been said, and many of them are so familiar that we can omit part of the phrase and still understand what is meant.

Continue reading “Fools rush in: proverbs in English (1)”

Quarantine, carriers and face masks: the language of the coronavirus

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by Liz Walter

As coronavirus (officially called COVID-19) continues to dominate the news, I thought it might be useful to look at some of the language we use to talk about it. Regular readers will know my obsession with collocations (word partners), and there are lots of good ones in this topic, most of which can be applied to other diseases too. Continue reading “Quarantine, carriers and face masks: the language of the coronavirus”

To put it another way: the language of explanations

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by Liz Walter

In this post, I am going to talk about the language of explaining, something we all have to do from time to time. Continue reading “To put it another way: the language of explanations”

Let down and look after: the difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs

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by Liz Walter

My colleague Kate Woodford and I have written many posts about phrasal verbs because students find them difficult but know they need to learn them. These posts often include prepositional verbs, and readers sometimes ask about this. Continue reading “Let down and look after: the difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs”

Clickbait and viral marketing: the language of advertising

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by Liz Walter

These days, most of us are targeted by adverts pretty much constantly, sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes more subtly. This post looks at the language around a phenomenon that many people would say is out of control. Continue reading “Clickbait and viral marketing: the language of advertising”

They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.

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by Liz Walter

Last month I looked at phrases containing the word ‘hot’, and this month I am looking at the opposite: phrases containing the word ‘cold’. Whereas ‘hot’ phrases are mostly concerned either with very good things or with strong emotions, ‘cold’ phrases are usually negative. We often use them to describe fear, unfriendliness or lack of emotion. Continue reading “They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.”

A frog in my throat: talking about voices

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by Liz Walter

The way someone speaks is very important, and often gives an indication of their character. It is therefore not surprising that we have a lot of words to describe the tone and timbre of voices. Continue reading “A frog in my throat: talking about voices”

Hot under the collar? Idiomatic phrases with ‘hot’.

by Liz Walter

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Sitting in my office in Cambridge UK, with cold, windy weather outside, it is nice to think about phrases containing the word ‘hot’. There are quite a lot of them, and this post looks at some of the most useful ones.

Let’s start with the phrase in the title. If someone is hot under the collar, they are angry and look as though they might lose their temper soon. We often use the verb get or become with this phrase. Continue reading “Hot under the collar? Idiomatic phrases with ‘hot’.”

When disaster strikes: ways of describing bad events

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by Liz Walter

First, apologies for the gloomy subject! However, we can’t read the news without being aware of terrible things that happen in the world, and there is a rich selection of vocabulary to describe them, including some nice collocations. Continue reading “When disaster strikes: ways of describing bad events”