We tell each other things all the time, whether it’s our news, some important information or just interesting facts. This week we’re focusing on the language that we use to describe giving information.
Starting with a really useful phrasal verb, if you pass on a message or a piece of news that someone has told you, you tell it to someone else:
Remember to pass on my message to Ted.
No one passed the news on to me.
The verb relay means the same: He heard the announcement and immediately relayed the news to his colleagues.
Sometimes we pass on information to lots of people. The verb spread is often used for this. It frequently comes before the nouns gossip andrumour:
I hope you’re not spreading gossip, Alice!
He’d apparently been spreading rumours about her around the school.
‘Spread’ is also used intransitively to describe the way that information quickly becomes known by lots of people: So why does fake news spread so quickly?
The verb circulateis also used in this way: News of her retirement quickly circulated around the office.
Another verb meaning ‘to tell information to a lot of people’ is broadcast. People use it especially about information that they would prefer to be private: I’d rather my news wasn’t broadcast to the entire office!
The more formal verb disseminate is also used, but without the negative meaning: One of the organization’s aims is to disseminate information about the disease.
He wouldn’t reveal what was written in the letter.
When asked, she refused to divulge her salary.
They made an agreement not to disclose any details.
An informal phrasal verb with this meaning is let on. If you let on, you tell others about something secret: Please don’t let on that I told you she’s leaving!
Another phrasal verb is blurt out. If you blurt out a secret fact, you say it suddenly and without thinking, usually because you’re nervous or excited: I was supposed to be keeping it secret and then I just blurted it out!
Do you know the phrase bad hair day? It refers to a day when your hair looks unattractive but is also used for a day when everything goes wrong. This connection between bad hair and failure suggests that, for many of us, hair is very important! Accordingly, we have lots of ways to describe it. If you’d like some interesting English expressions for hair, read on! Continue reading “Bad Hair Day (Words and phrases that describe hair)”→
The Christmas season is once again here and around the world, people who celebrate this festival are going to parties and gatherings with family, friends and colleagues. One important feature of most gatherings is food so we thought we’d take a look at the language in this area.
When you are hosting (=organizing in your home) a get-together of any type, you have to make decisions about catering (=providing food). How much and what type of food will you offer your guests? You might plan a proper dinner for people. This is sometimes called a sit-down meal, meaning that it is the sort of meal that people eat while sitting at a table: a sit-downmeal at a wedding A meal in someone’s house in the evening used to be called a dinner party, though this now sounds a little formal. Nowadays, most people talk about having or asking their friends round/over for dinner: I thought I’d ask Jamie and Luisa round for dinner.Continue reading “Do help yourself! (The language of party food)”→
In this, the second of two year-end posts, I look at words associated with some major events and trends of 2018 from the perspective of the US. I’ve picked just six topics from an action-packed year, and I’ve tried to go for variety rather than simply importance, since the purpose of these posts is to provide useful vocabulary, not to report on the news or provide an opinion on it. Continue reading “Wildfires and mid-term elections: a look back at 2018 in the US”→
Do you eat to live, or live to eat? If you’ve never heard this phrase before, someone who eats to live, eats only because they have to in order to carry on living. For this type of person, food is just fuel. Someone who lives to eat, on the other hand, regards food as the best part of living and is always looking forward to their next meal. I think it’s true to say that most of us fall somewhere between these two extremes! Continue reading “Fussy eaters and healthy appetites (Words and phrases to describe the way we eat)”→