Making an effort and telling a joke: avoiding common errors with collocations

NickyLloyd/E+

by Liz Walter

Collocation, or the way we put words together, is a very important part of English. In this post, I am going to look at some of the most common mistakes learners make with verb + noun collocations. If you make these errors, people will still understand you, but your English will not sound natural and you will lose marks in exams. Continue reading “Making an effort and telling a joke: avoiding common errors with collocations”

New words – 15 October 2018

Barbara Fischer, Australia / Moment / Getty

plastic footprint noun [C]
/ˈplæs.tɪk.ˈfʊt.prɪnt/
a measurement of the amount of plastic that someone uses and then discards, considered in terms of the resulting damage caused to the environment

As such, Greenpeace suggests a number of small changes people can make to reduce their plastic footprint. The first steps involve avoiding buying items such as plastic bottles of water and carrying a permanent or reusable one instead. It also advises using a refillable cup when buying takeaway coffee to help cut down on the estimated 2.5 billion disposable cups discarded every year in the UK.
[The Telegraph, 10 January 2018]

Continue reading “New words – 15 October 2018”

Our four-legged friends (Talking about animals)

Paul Biris/Moment

by Kate Woodford

We share our planet with a huge number of other creatures – living beings that we categorize as animals, birds, fish or insects. This week, we’re taking a look at the language that we use to talk about these creatures.

Let’s start with the phrase in the title. Four-legged friend is a humorous expression used in British English to refer to an animal, especially a dog or a horse: This week, we publish poems on the subject of our four-legged friends. Birds, meanwhile, are sometimes referred to as ‘our feathered friends: So how can we help our feathered friends survive the cold weather?

Many other animal terms reflect their relationship with humans. For example, a pet is an animal that lives in a person’s home as a companion: Isabel wanted a pet so we bought her a cat. Pets are sometimes referred to more formally as companion animals: Over sixty percent of all UK households have one or more companion animal.

Domesticated animals have been brought under human control in order to live or work with us: domesticated animals, such as dogs and horses

Meanwhile, wild animals live independently of people, in their own natural conditions: wild horses

A stray is a pet that no longer has a home or cannot find its home. ‘Stray’ is often used adjectivally: a stray dog / I think that cat’s a stray. The adjective feral describes an animal that exists in a wild state. It is used especially for animals that were previously kept by people: feral dogs/cats

Creepy-crawly is a child’s word meaning ‘insect’. It is sometimes used negatively, suggesting a fear of insects: I’m not really a fan of creepy-crawlies. / a child’s book on creepy-crawlies

Prey refers to an animal that is hunted and killed for food by another animal: A hawk hovered in the air before swooping on its prey. A predator is an animal that hunts, kills, and eats other animals: lions, wolves, and other predators

A pest is an insect or small animal that is harmful or damages crops: common pests such as mice

The plural noun vermin is used for small animals and insects that are harmful and difficult to control in large numbers: flies, rats, cockroaches and other vermin

Sadly, a word that is heard more and more is endangered.  Endangered animals may soon not exist because there are very few now alive: Mountain gorillas are an endangered species.

Whether you’re an animal lover or not, we hope you find some useful words and expressions in this post!

 

 

 

New words – 8 October 2018

Artisteer / iStock / Getty Images Plus

phast noun [C]
/fæst/
a ‘phone fast’: a period of time during which someone chooses not to use their smartphone

For the past month, I’ve been trying to phase my phone out – the same way you’d phase out an annoying acquaintance. I’ve started avoiding it for a whole 90 minutes before bed, which has been tough, I won’t lie, but definitely doable. It’s what Price calls a phast, or phone fast. She explains how regular, short breaks from our phones “are essential for our emotional and intellectual health”.
[www.image.ie, 15 February 2018]

attention economy noun [U]
UK /əˈten.ʃᵊn.iˈkɒn.ə.mi/ US /əˈten.ʃᵊn.iˈkɑː.nə.mi/
an economic system where the amount of information available on the internet means that companies must compete to attract the attention of potential consumers

As 63% of marketers world-wide set out to increase traffic and leads over the next 12 months, their first instinct will be to produce more content. Fight this instinct. Remember, we are living in an attention economy. The way to get attention today isn’t to shout more or shout louder; instead, think carefully about how you can use these 8 strategies to help people better navigate the information deluge.
[www.thinkgrowth.org, 20 June 2017]

surveillance capitalism noun [U]
UK /səˈveɪ.ləns.ˈkæp.ɪ.tᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/ US /sɚˈveɪ.ləns.ˈkæp.ə.t̬ᵊl.ɪ.zᵊm/
an economic system where a company, usually a website, makes money by selling its users’ personal data to other companies

Google and Facebook, in particular, are avatars and practitioners of the new “surveillance capitalism”, the system whereby it is not our need for goods and services that creates the greatest corporate wealth, but the data we generate that can then be sold on.
[The Sunday Telegraph, 4 February 2018]

About new words

Don’t sweat the small stuff: words and phrases connected with keeping calm

S_Bachstroem/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

I’ve written quite a bit recently about arguing and fighting, so I thought it would be nice to turn to something more pleasant: staying calm and relaxed. This can be difficult in the modern world, where many people report feeling stress or pressure (the anxious feeling you have when you have too much to do or difficult things to do): I couldn’t stand the stress of that job. We were under pressure to work harder. The related adjectives are stressful and pressurized: The situation was very stressful. She works in a pressurized environment. Continue reading “Don’t sweat the small stuff: words and phrases connected with keeping calm”

New words – 1 October 2018

Image Source / Getty

MAMIL noun [C]
/ˈmæm.ɪl/
abbreviation for middle-aged man in lycra: a man who takes up cycling in middle age, especially one who rides an expensive bike and spends a lot of money on clothing, accessories and so on

Richard’s transformation into a MAMIL began five years ago when, to get fit, he bought a road bike. At first, he wore a sensible pair of shorts and a loose-fitting jersey. But then the buying began in earnest. New wheels (the old ones were slowing him down, apparently), a pair of cycling shoes, then another pair, then a ‘quicker’ helmet, then a personal trainer to help him shed the pounds and improve his ‘power to weight ratio’.
[Daily Mail, 11 December 2014]

Continue reading “New words – 1 October 2018”

On the spur of the moment (Words and phrases to describe sudden actions)

Luis Alvarez / DigitalVision / Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

Much of what we do each day is planned or expected but not everything. Sometimes, for whatever reason, we suddenly do things that we are not expecting to do or have not prepared for. This week, we’re looking at the language that we use to express this.

Let’s start with a very useful adjective: spontaneous. A spontaneous action is sudden and done as a natural response to what is happening at the time: The silence was broken by spontaneous applause. / When she got up to leave, everyone applauded spontaneously. The noun from ‘spontaneous’ is spontaneity: We all need a little spontaneity in our lives.

Continue reading “On the spur of the moment (Words and phrases to describe sudden actions)”

New words – 24 September 2018

Tetra Images / Getty

binge racing noun [U]
/ˈbɪndʒ.reɪ.sɪŋ/
the activity of watching a full series of a streamed TV programme in a 24-hour period

Netflix found that binge racing has increased 20 times over the past three years. What used to be a pastime reserved for the most committed television fans is now sweeping the nation – and the world … In 2013, some 200,000 people had done this, and now it’s up to 4 million and counting.
[www.mashable.com, 17 October 2017]

knitflixing noun [U]
/ˈnɪt.flɪksɪŋ/
the activity of knitting and watching a TV programme on Netflix at the same time

Once the activity of choice for our grandmas, knitting has seen a popularity boom across all ages in recent years … Now, there’s even a blog dedicated to knitflixing – aka watching Netflix while knitting – while more than 3,600 photos have been tagged #KnitFlix on Instagram.
[www.huffingtonpost.com, 19 February 2018]

hate watching noun [U]
UK /ˈheɪt.wɒtʃɪŋ/ US /ˈheɪt.wɑːtʃɪŋ/
the activity of watching a TV programme that you hate in order to gain enjoyment from criticizing it or complaining about it

Despite the embarrassment of rich, beautiful storytelling on TV, many of us indulge in exactly this sort of time-wasting habit: hate watching has reached new heights. Fed by almost endless options for shows to watch, bolstered by the snark contest that social media has become, viewers now regularly revel in finding plot holes and analysing awfulness just as much as they delight in quality programming.
[www.bbc.com/culture, 26 June 2017]

About new words

Ghosts, coughs and daughters: how to pronounce ‘gh’ in English.

belchonock / iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

There are many common words in English that contain the pair of letters ‘gh’. ‘Gh’ can be pronounced /g/ (like ‘goat’), /f/ (like ‘fun’) or it can be silent, but in that case it will affect the vowels that come before it. Unfortunately, many of these pronunciations simply have to be learned. However, there are a few basic rules that can help.

Continue reading “Ghosts, coughs and daughters: how to pronounce ‘gh’ in English.”

New words – 17 September 2018

Hero Images / Getty

super listener noun [C]
UK /ˈsuː.pə.ˌlɪs.ənəʳ/ US /ˈsuː.pɚ.ˌlɪs.ənɚ/
someone who listens to a large number of podcasts and helps to make them well known or popular by recommending them or promoting them, especially on social media

As the report explains, super listeners are the most active slice of the podcast pie, and while they don’t fully represent every kind of podcast fan, they end up being the most supportive and participatory when it comes to podcasts. These listeners place a great deal of trust in podcasts as news and entertainment sources.
[Adweek, 16 November 2017]

vaguebooking noun [U]
/ˈveɪg.ˌbʊk.ɪŋ/
the activity of wording posts on social media sites in a deliberately vague but worrying way in order to prompt the people who read them to express concern about the poster

Why do social media users feel the need to post such inane drivel? I appreciate that we’re all different but surely, if something affects you emotionally to such a degree that you feel the need to partake in vaguebooking, you need to get off social media, pick up the phone and talk to a real friend. Better still, do it in person, over a coffee … with real – not virtual – hugs/rants/tears/joy.
[www.taobusinesssolutions.co.uk, 11 October 2017]

kidfluencer noun [C]
UK /ˈkɪd.flu.ən.səʳ/ US /ˈkɪd.flu.ən.səʳ/
a child who encourages people to buy a product by recommending it on social media

The toy industry used to be fronted by an elderly enthusiast manning the desk of an overcluttered shop. Now, thanks to the internet, the children are taking over. Despite the web’s role in gradually ousting the high street toy store, it also might be its saviour — in the form of “kidfluencers”.
[The Times, 7 October 2017]

About new words