Home improvements: the language of making and repairing things in your home

by Liz Walter

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Apparently, a lot of people who are either in lockdown or working from home because of the pandemic are using their extra time to do jobs in the home, so this post offers some words and phrases to talk about these tasks.

Continue reading “Home improvements: the language of making and repairing things in your home”

‘Cooking up a storm’ and ‘faces like thunder’ (Idioms with weather words, Part 1)

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by Kate Woodford

It may not surprise you to hear that the weather features in a lot of English idioms. In many of these, the weather words are used metaphorically, in a way that makes the meaning quite obvious. For example, a storm often features in idioms as something negative, referring to a period of trouble, and a cloud is something that spoils a situation. This post will focus on idioms related to storms, of which there are many! Continue reading “‘Cooking up a storm’ and ‘faces like thunder’ (Idioms with weather words, Part 1)”

I feel like my life’s on hold: Language for describing uncertain times.

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by Liz Walter

With many people around the world in some form of lockdown and almost everyone affected by the pandemic in some way, I thought it might be useful to offer some language suitable for talking about living in a climate of uncertainty (a general situation of not knowing what is going to happen). Continue reading “I feel like my life’s on hold: Language for describing uncertain times.”

Hitting it off and befriending people (Words for making friends)

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by Kate Woodford

In these troubled times, I thought you might enjoy a post with a positive subject matter so today I’ll be looking at words and phrases around the subject of making friends and being friendly. You’ll notice there are several phrasal verbs in the post.

Starting with a phrasal verb, if you begin a friendship with someone, you can say that you strike up a friendship:

He’d struck up a friendship with an older guy on his course.

 

If you are friendly towards a stranger, often in order to help them, you might say you befriend them:

Luckily, I was befriended by an elderly man who showed me where to get a cup of coffee.

If two people like each other and get on well as soon as they meet, you can say, informally, that they hit it off:

We met at Lucy’s party and hit it off immediately.

I didn’t really hit it off with his mother.

The verb click has a similar meaning, with the additional suggestion that the people understand each other and think in a similar way:

We met at a work party and clicked right away.

If two people develop a friendly or loving connection with each other, you can say they bond:

She didn’t really bond with the other team members.

If people become friends because of a shared interest, you might say they bond over that thing:

We bonded over our love of birds and vegan cake.

Someone who makes an effort to be friends with a person or group, often because it will give them an advantage, may be said to get in with them:

She tried to get in with the cool kids at school.

Something, (often a bad thing), that causes people to become friends may be said to bring them together:

As so often happens, the disaster brought the whole community together.

Of course, relationships may end as well as start. If two people stop being friends after an argument, you can say, informally, that they fall out:

Unfortunately, the sisters fell out over money.  

If a friendship between two people gradually ends over time, you might say the people drift apart:

You know how it goes – our lives took different directions and we just drifted apart.

If someone suddenly ends a friendship with someone, you can use the slightly informal verb drop:

I don’t know what I did to offend her, but she just dropped me.

Finally, to end on a more cheerful note, if you start to be friends with someone that you used to know well in the past, you may be said to rekindle the friendship:

I was glad of the opportunity to rekindle an old friendship.

An article of clothing and a ray of sunshine: making uncountable nouns countable (2)

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by Liz Walter

My last post introduced the topic of adding words to uncountable nouns so that they can be used in a countable way. In that post, I concentrated on food words. Today, we will look at some other topics. Continue reading “An article of clothing and a ray of sunshine: making uncountable nouns countable (2)”

Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)

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by Kate Woodford

Readers of this blog often ask us for conversational English. They want to learn phrases for chatting informally with friends and colleagues. To help with this, some of our blog posts focus on the sort of conversations that we all have during the course of a day or a week. In this post, we’re looking at what you can say on a Monday when someone asks ‘How was your weekend?’ Continue reading “Did you have a nice weekend? (Chatting about the weekend)”

I’ve brought you a little something: The language of gifts


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by Liz Walter

Many of us will have given and received gifts over the holiday period. This post looks at some of the language around this custom.

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Pompous and patronizing (Describing character, part 5)

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by Kate Woodford

Today, in the last of the ‘Describing character’ posts, we’re looking at words for a variety of negative characteristics, from the tendency to criticize others, the belief that you are better than everyone else.

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Help is at hand (Idioms with ‘hand’, Part 1)

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by Kate Woodford

Who knew how many idioms and phrases there were containing the word ‘hand’! I certainly didn’t until I started researching them. A lot are common in everyday speech and are therefore useful to learn. As there are so many, this will be the first of two posts, Part 1 and Part 2.

Continue reading “Help is at hand (Idioms with ‘hand’, Part 1)”

You could hear a pin drop: more interesting ways of saying ‘quiet’

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by Liz Walter

Quiet is a word that English students learn early in their studies. Today we are going to look at some more specific and subtle ways of talking about quietness and silence.

Continue reading “You could hear a pin drop: more interesting ways of saying ‘quiet’”