Flaring up or bubbling over? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 2.

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by Liz Walter

My last post was about phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs connected to sadness and happiness. This post will look at some other emotions.

Let’s start with anger. If someone suddenly becomes angry, we can say that they flare up. Blow up is similar and often describes an even angrier outburst. We use the preposition at if that anger is directed at a particular person: Continue reading “Flaring up or bubbling over? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 2.”

He’s pulling your leg! Idioms with ‘pull’.

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by Liz Walter

There are a surprising number of commonly used idioms that contain the verb ‘pull’. This post will look at some of the most useful ones.

Let’s start with the idiom in the title. If you accuse someone of pulling your leg, you mean that you believe they are teasing you by saying something that isn’t true. If we think that someone is teasing us in that way, we might say Pull the other leg/one!’, or even the longer version Pull the other one – it’s got bells on!. This shows that we don’t believe them.

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 you pull 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.

If you say that someone didn’t pull their punches, or didn’t pull any punches, you mean that they say something in a very direct way, without trying to be kind or tactful:

She told me exactly what she thought of my novel and she didn’t pull any punches.

And finally – a rather painful image! – if you say that doing something is like pulling teeth, you mean that it is very difficult and often slow to do:

Getting my boss to agree to any change is like pulling teeth.

I hope that learning these useful idioms won’t be like pulling teeth, so try to pull out all the stops to learn them!

Weighed down or perking up? Phrasal verbs to express emotions, part 1

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by Liz Walter

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”

Eggs are in aisle 3: the language of supermarket shopping

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by Liz Walter

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”

Rising sea levels, endangered species and renewable energy: talking about climate change

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by Liz Walter

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.

Continue reading “Rising sea levels, endangered species and renewable energy: talking about climate change”

The ball’s in your court now: idioms with ‘ball’

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by Liz Walter

There are a surprising number of idioms that contain the word ‘ball’. This post looks at some of the most useful ones.

It seems appropriate to start with the idiom get/start the ball rolling, which means to do something to make an activity start or to encourage other people to do something similar to you:

I’m hoping we can all share our ideas today. Who would like to start the ball rolling? Continue reading “The ball’s in your court now: idioms with ‘ball’”

My very best friend: talking about friendship

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by Liz Walter

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:

I’d like you to meet my good friend Mateo.

He doesn’t have many close friends.

Sarah is my very best friend.

Continue reading “My very best friend: talking about friendship”

Tangy, tart and fruity: talking about flavours

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by Liz Walter

Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and it is useful to know how to describe its flavours. By the way, note that ‘flavour’ is the UK spelling; the US spelling is ‘flavor’.

The simplest way to express whether or not we are enjoying the flavour of something is to say it tastes:

This soup tastes lovely/horrible.

The sauce tasted slightly sweet. Continue reading “Tangy, tart and fruity: talking about flavours”

It was agony: talking about pain

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by Liz Walter

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:

My knee hurts.

It hurts to bend my knee / It hurts when I bend my knee. Continue reading “It was agony: talking about pain”

It’s all in the mind: phrases with ‘mind’

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by Liz Walter

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.

When you decide something, you make up your mind or make your mind up:

It’s time to make your mind up. Are you coming with us or not? Continue reading “It’s all in the mind: phrases with ‘mind’”