With the holiday season fast approaching, many of you will be braving the crowds in shops and shopping malls in order to find the perfect gift for a family member or friend. With presents very much on our mind, we thought it might be interesting to look at the language of gifts and giving.
Have you ever wanted to describe an area of the countryside but found you didn’t have the right words? If so, we’ll fix that this week with a look at words and phrases that we use to describe different landscapes.
To start with the most basic description, an area of land that is mainly covered with grass or trees is often described as green: There are so few green spaces in the city. An area that is especially green, in a way that is attractive, may also be described as lush: lush green valleys. A more literary word for this is verdant: All around her were verdant meadows.
Meanwhile, a landscape that has few or no plants because there is so little rain may be described as arid: Few animals can survive in this arid desert landscape. (A technical description for an area that has little rain but is not completely dry is semi-arid: a semi-arid zone.)
Land that is extremely dry because rain has not fallen for a long time is often said to be parched: parched earth/fields. Sun-baked, meanwhile, describes land that is hard and dry because it has received so little rain for so long: The sun-baked earth was full of cracks.
Other words describe the shape of the land. A hilly area has lots of hills: The countryside round here is very hilly. The phrase rolling hills is often used in descriptions of attractive landscapes with many gentle hills: Everywhere you look, there are rolling hills. The rather literary word undulating is also used to describe this type of landscape: This picturesque village is surrounded by undulating hills.
Meanwhile, a landscape with bigger hills – mountains – is mountainous: a mountainous region. If those mountains have snow on the top, they are often referred to as snow-capped: a snow-capped mountain range.
Still with the shape of the land, craggy describes an area with lots of rocks sticking out: a craggy coastline. Rugged is very similar, describing an area of land that is wild and not flat: These photographs really capture the rugged landscape of the region.
Of course, not all landscapes are green and hilly. An area may be flat. If there are no trees, hills or other interesting features, it may appear rather featureless: It was a grey, featureless landscape.
Two negative adjectives that are sometimes used to describe featureless landscapes are bleak and desolate. Both are used for areas of the countryside that seem empty and cold, with nothing pleasant to look at: The house stands on a bleak hilltop.
Another adjective sometimes used in this context is windswept. A windswept area of land has no trees or other high structures to protect it from the wind: The picture shows a desolate, windswept landscape.
When were you last out in the countryside? How would you describe the landscape?
Saying no to a kind offer or invitation can be tricky. We often feel slightly embarrassed by it – the last thing we want is to upset or offend the person who is making the offer. Luckily, there are a number of ways to ‘soften’ the refusal – to make it more polite and acceptable. This post aims to show you how.
Let’s imagine someone invites you out to dinner with a group of friends on Friday and you are unable to go. Of course, you could simply reply ‘No, thank you.’ or say ‘I can’t.’ but either of these responses might sound a little rude – or at least, not very friendly! The easiest way to ‘soften’ your reply is to start with an apology and a brief explanation of why you can’t come:
It is sometimes said that the next best thing to eating food is talking about food. If this is true, we need the vocabulary with which to do it! In this post, we focus on idioms, phrasal verbs and other phrases that we use to talk about eating.
Last month we looked at the language that we use to describe books and movies, focusing on words that mean enjoyable, interesting and exciting. This week, we’re looking at adjectives and phrases that describe other qualities and aspects of books and movies.
Some adjectives describe the number of things that happen in a book or movie. If it is action-packed, it is full of exciting events: an action-packed movie. In UK English, the adjective pacy is also used to describe a book or movie in which the events happen quickly: The movie is adapted from Green’s pacy thriller. Continue reading “Describing Movies and Books 2”→
Most of us like to discuss movies and shows that we have seen and books that we have read. This is the first of two posts that will provide you with a range of adjectives and phrases for describing what you have seen and read in a way that is precise and varied.
This week we’re looking at the various expressions that we use to say that a thought or idea comes into our mind. As ever, when looking at a particular area of the language, we hope to provide you with a range of interesting ways to say something.
We’ll start with the verb strike. If a thought or idea strikes you, it suddenly comes into your mind: That was when the thought struck him. Like other verbs with this meaning, ‘strike’ is often used in the structure ‘It struck someone that…’
People often ask us for conversational English on this blog. They want to learn the sort of phrases that they can use to chat informally with friends. Of course, we can chat about so many different subjects, it’s hard to know which particular areas of the language to look at. However, one thing that we all need from time to time is the language for starting a conversation with a friend that we haven’t seen for a while. Continue reading “It’s been a while… (Starting a conversation with an old friend)”→