Laid-back and sunny (Describing character, part 3)

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by Kate Woodford

Today’s post is the latest in a thread devoted to describing people’s characters. In the previous two posts, we looked at ways of talking about people who are hard-working, ambitious, and lazy, among other traits. As usual, we start on a positive note, looking at words and phrases that describe people who are relaxed.

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Applying for a job or handing in your notice: collocations for work (1)

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by Liz Walter

One of our readers recently asked for a post on collocations relating to the world of work. Well, she’s lucky because she’s getting two of them! This first one focuses on starting and leaving jobs.

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Kind-hearted or ruthless? (Describing character, Part 2)

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by Kate Woodford

With this post, we continue the ‘describing people’ thread, looking at adjectives that we use to describe people’s characters. Today, we focus on a set of near-synonyms for the adjective ‘kind’.

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It goes without saying: phrases with ‘say’

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by Liz Walter

I was writing some learning materials on the topic of communication the other day, when I noticed how many common phrases include the word ‘say’. This post looks at some of the most useful of them.

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Beating up, ganging up on and putting someone down: phrasal verbs for bad behaviour (2)

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by Liz Walter

In an earlier post, I looked at phrasal verbs connected with children’s bad behaviour and with some general adult bad behaviour. In this post, I will cover phrasal verbs connected with bullying, violent and dishonest behaviour.

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Spotless or squalid? (Words for ‘clean’ and ‘dirty’)

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by Kate Woodford

COVID-19 has made us all very aware of how clean our hands and surfaces are. With cleanliness in mind, we thought it might be a good time to look at the language around being clean and being dirty.

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Staying at home, going home or working from home: using the word ‘home’.

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by Liz Walter

Spending several weeks under (partial) lockdown has made me think more deeply about the concept of ‘home’. It’s a word that has a huge amount of implied meaning over and above its main literal meaning of ‘the place where you live’. It is also a very common word that can cause problems for learners because it acts in odd ways with regard to the use of prepositions.

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Playing up, showing off or letting someone down: phrasal verbs for bad behaviour (1)

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by Liz Walter

It struck me recently that there are rather a lot of phrasal verbs connected with people behaving badly so I thought this might be a useful topic. In fact, there are so many of them that there will be two posts: this one on children’s behaviour and general bad behaviour and one on more serious wrongdoing such as violence, bullying and dishonesty.

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Black sheep and white lies (Idioms with colours, part 2)

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by Kate Woodford

This is the second of two posts that focus on idioms that contain a word for a colour. A couple of weeks ago, we looked at blue, green and red idioms. This week, we’re rather monochrome, looking mainly at idioms with ‘black’ and ‘white’ in them.

The phrase in black and white is sometimes used to mean ‘in writing’, usually in the context of proof: I could scarcely believe it was true, but there it was, in black and white.

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From darkness into the light: metaphors of darkness and light

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by Liz Walter

‘Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that.’

‘In the midst of darkness, light persists.’

These quotes, from Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, perfectly demonstrate the way darkness and light are used as metaphors in English (and many other languages), with darkness suggesting ignorance, evil and unhappiness and light signifying knowledge, purity and happiness. There are many common phrases that exemplify this, and this post will look at some of the most common ones.

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