Don’t count your chickens: proverbs in English (2)

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by Liz Walter

In my last post, I introduced a few proverbs that are common in English, especially in conversations. In this one, I am going to look at some common uses of proverbs: to give warnings, to criticize, and to comfort people. I mentioned last month that some proverbs are so well-known that we often use only the first part. Where this is the case, I will show the part that can be omitted in brackets.

Continue reading “Don’t count your chickens: proverbs in English (2)”

Scorching, furious and delighted! (Extreme adjectives in English, Part 1)

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by Kate Woodford

Are your English adjectives sometimes not strong enough? Perhaps you’re eating something that is so good, the word ‘good’ just isn’t enough. In this case, you might want to describe the food as delicious or even (informal) scrumptious. As you’ll have guessed by now, this post looks at extreme adjectives – that is, adjectives that we use to emphasize a high degree of a particular quality.  Remember that we don’t usually put the adverb very before extreme adjectives. Instead, to add even more emphasis, we might use adverbs such as absolutely, totally and completely. Continue reading “Scorching, furious and delighted! (Extreme adjectives in English, Part 1)”

Beds of roses and sore thumbs (Newspaper idioms)

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by Kate Woodford

Readers of this blog often ask us for posts on English idioms. Understandably, they also tell us that it’s important that the idioms are used now. One way that we make sure we focus on up to date idioms is by looking at expressions used in current newspapers. The expressions in this week’s post are taken from a range of national newspapers that were published on February 5th, 2020. Continue reading “Beds of roses and sore thumbs (Newspaper idioms)”

Outlooks and forecasts (The language of predictions)

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by Kate Woodford

It’s February – still more or less the start of the year – and you may still be thinking about the months ahead and predicting what’s likely to happen. With this in mind, we’re looking today at the words and phrases that we use to say what we think will – or might – happen in the future. Continue reading “Outlooks and forecasts (The language of predictions)”

Let down and look after: the difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs

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by Liz Walter

My colleague Kate Woodford and I have written many posts about phrasal verbs because students find them difficult but know they need to learn them. These posts often include prepositional verbs, and readers sometimes ask about this. Continue reading “Let down and look after: the difference between phrasal verbs and prepositional verbs”

Donating and allocating (Verbs that mean ‘give’)

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by Kate Woodford

This is the second part of a two-part blog post focusing on words meaning ‘give’. The first post looked at phrasal verbs with this meaning. Here, we look at single words in this area. Continue reading “Donating and allocating (Verbs that mean ‘give’)”

Clickbait and viral marketing: the language of advertising

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by Liz Walter

These days, most of us are targeted by adverts pretty much constantly, sometimes in obvious ways and sometimes more subtly. This post looks at the language around a phenomenon that many people would say is out of control. Continue reading “Clickbait and viral marketing: the language of advertising”

They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.

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by Liz Walter

Last month I looked at phrases containing the word ‘hot’, and this month I am looking at the opposite: phrases containing the word ‘cold’. Whereas ‘hot’ phrases are mostly concerned either with very good things or with strong emotions, ‘cold’ phrases are usually negative. We often use them to describe fear, unfriendliness or lack of emotion. Continue reading “They gave him the cold shoulder: Idiomatic phrases with ‘cold’.”

Give yourself a pat on the back! (The language of praising)

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by Kate Woodford

I thought our About Words readers might enjoy a positive post this week, so today I’m focusing on the language of praise – saying nice, positive things about someone or something. We’re looking at single words and phrases and, as ever, focusing on the sort of language that is in use now. Continue reading “Give yourself a pat on the back! (The language of praising)”

Christmas phrases

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by Kate Woodford

It’s Christmas! At Cambridge Dictionary, we like to get into the Christmas spirit so today, we’re bringing you festive phrases with a round-up of idioms that contain a word that we often associate with Christmas. Continue reading “Christmas phrases”