Setting up and mapping out – the language of planning part 1

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by Kate Woodford

January and February seem like the right months of the year for a post on the language of planning. Since there’s so much useful vocabulary in this area, this will be a two-part blog post.

Starting with near-synonyms for ‘arrange’, a handy phrasal verb is set up. To set up a meeting or similar event is to organize it:

We need to set up a meeting.

I’ve set up interviews with both candidates.

You might also say that you line up an event or number of events: We’ve lined up some great speakers for you this week. 

To schedule a formal or an official event is to arrange for it to happen at a particular time:

The flight was scheduled to arrive at 8:45.

We have a meeting scheduled for 10 a.m.

If you reschedule something, you agree on a new and later time or date for something to happen: I’ve rescheduled Tuesday’s meeting for Wednesday.

If you plan in detail a period of time or future project, you might say that you map it out: He’s got his career all mapped out ahead of him

If you make temporary arrangements which may change in the future, you might describe them as provisional: These dates are only provisional.

You could say the same thing by saying that you will pencil in the arrangement: Okay, let’s pencil in a meeting for next Thursday at 11.

A related phrase is not set in stone, meaning ‘not fixed’: These dates may change nearer the time – they’re certainly not set in stone.

To say that you make a provisional plan definite, you might use the phrasal verb firm up: We’ll need to firm up the details of the agreement.

To call or write to someone in order to say that a formal arrangement is certain is to confirm it: Provisionally, we’ll say February 20th for the meeting, then, but confirm it later.

To anticipate something when you are planning is to expect that it will happen: I don’t anticipate any problems with this stage of the project.

If you allow for something that might happen, you consider it when planning and make arrangements for it: We have to allow for the possibility that the project might be delayed.

Meanwhile, if you reckon on or count on something happening, you think it is very likely and make plans that depend on it happening: We’re reckoning on selling 3,00 units a week.

Part 2 of this post will look at planning for potential problems.

Flaring up and bouncing back: phrasal verbs relating to illness

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by Kate Woodford

A recent blog that we published on phrasal verbs meaning ‘argue’ was very popular, reminding us to keep providing you with useful sets of these important items! This week, then, we’re looking at phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs connected with illness and recovery.

Continue reading “Flaring up and bouncing back: phrasal verbs relating to illness”

Egging on, storming out and making up: phrasal verbs connected with arguing (2).

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by Liz Walter

My last post looked at phrasal and prepositional verbs connected with starting arguments and what happens during arguments. Today I’ll start with describing other people’s involvement in an argument and then go on to talking about what happens when an argument is over.

Continue reading “Egging on, storming out and making up: phrasal verbs connected with arguing (2).”

Falling out, lashing out and blurting out: phrasal verbs connected with arguing (1).

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by Liz Walter

We use phrasal verbs a lot, and it’s worth learning as many as you can. In this post, I will look at phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs connected with arguing – there is a surprisingly large number of them! It is often important to know what preposition to use after a phrasal verb, so pay particular attention to the prepositions highlighted in the example sentences.

Continue reading “Falling out, lashing out and blurting out: phrasal verbs connected with arguing (1).”

On cloud nine: Idioms and phrasal verbs to express happiness

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by Liz Walter

My last post was all about sadness, so it is good to turn to a more cheerful subject: happiness.

Let’s start with the phrase I’ve used in the title: on cloud nine. Nobody really knows the origins of this phrase – one theory is that it refers to the cumulonimbus cloud that was number nine in the ‘International Cloud Atlas’ and rises higher than all other clouds, while another relates to one of the stages of enlightenment in Buddhist thought. Still, it’s enough to know that if you are on cloud nine, you are extremely happy. In fact, you are in seventh heaven (from the belief in some religions that there are seven levels of heaven, the seventh being the highest).

Continue reading “On cloud nine: Idioms and phrasal verbs to express happiness”

It broke my heart: Idioms and phrasal verbs to express sadness

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by Liz Walter

‘When sorrows come, they come not single spies, but in battalions.’ So said Claudius in Shakespeare’s Hamlet. As a general rule, grief and sadness are more interesting to writers and poets than happiness, and there are many fine descriptions in literature. However, in this post, I want to focus on language that we use in everyday speech.

Firstly, it is obviously very important to use phrases that are suitable for the level of trauma involved. You might describe someone as down in the dumps or down in the mouth if, for instance, they did badly in a job interview or failed an exam. Similarly, the phrase out of sorts is used mainly for someone who is usually cheerful, but simply seems a bit glum at the moment. However, if the sadness is caused by something serious like a bereavement (= when someone dies), those phrases would sound too trivial. Continue reading “It broke my heart: Idioms and phrasal verbs to express sadness”

We just got the go-ahead! (Nouns formed from phrasal verbs)

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by Kate Woodford

Here on About Words, we frequently publish posts on phrasal verbs. This week, just for a change, we’re looking instead at a group of nouns that are formed from phrasal verbs. Some of these nouns are usually written with a hyphen between the verb and particle and some are written as one word.

Let’s start on a positive note, with the noun in the title. From the phrasal verb go ahead, the phrase the go-ahead refers to an occasion when you are given official permission to start a project. You get or are given the go-ahead: The council has given the go-ahead for a housing development in the area. Continue reading “We just got the go-ahead! (Nouns formed from phrasal verbs)”

It’s kicking off! (Phrasal verbs for starting things)

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by Kate Woodford

This week we’re looking at the many phrasal verbs that are used to refer to things starting.

Let’s begin with the verb ‘start’ itself as it has a number of phrasal verbs. If you start off a meeting, you begin it by doing something: I’d like to start off the meeting with a brief summary of our aims. You can also use ‘start off’ intransitively: I’m going to start off with a few introductions. Continue reading “It’s kicking off! (Phrasal verbs for starting things)”

Deal with it! (Phrasal verbs for managing problems)

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by Kate Woodford

Earlier this month we focused on phrasal verbs that are used to describe problems and difficult situations. This week, we’re turning our attention to phrasal verbs that describe what we do in difficult situations. Deal with is one of the most common phrasal verbs in this area. If you deal with a problem, you take action that will solve it: When problems arise, it’s best to deal with them immediately. Get round (US get around) is another. If you get round a problem, you succeed in solving it, often by avoiding it: I’m sure we can find a way to get round the problem.  / We can always get around the problem of space by building an extension. The phrasal verbs sort out and work out are also used with the meaning of ‘take action that solves a problem’: It was a useful meeting – we sorted out quite a few problems. / It’s a tricky situation, but I’m sure we’ll work it out in the end. Continue reading “Deal with it! (Phrasal verbs for managing problems)”

I messed up! (Phrasal verbs for problems)

by Kate Woodford

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Last month we focused on words and phrases that are used to describe problems and difficult situations. This week we’re looking specifically at phrasal verbs in this area. In a week or so, we’ll look at a group of phrasal verbs that describe how we deal with these situations. (Did you see what I did there?)

The machines that we use in daily life can cause problems for us and when they do, we often describe the problem with a phrasal verb. If a machine or vehicle breaks down, it stops working: Her car broke down on the way to work. If a machine or engine cuts out, it suddenly stops working: Without any warning, the engine just cut out. Meanwhile, if a piece of equipment plays up, it doesn’t work as it should: Ah, my laptop’s playing up again! You can also describe a part of the body as ‘playing up’, meaning that it is hurting or not functioning as it should. (In this sense, ‘play up’ can be transitive as well as intransitive in British English.): His knee’s been playing (him) up again. Lastly, a computer system that goes down stops working for a period: The computers went down and we were unable to work for three hours. Continue reading “I messed up! (Phrasal verbs for problems)”