New words – 5 March 2018

stoozing noun [U] /ˈstuːz.ɪŋ/ the practice of borrowing money on a credit card with a 0% interest rate and then investing the same money in a bank account that pays a high interest rate so that a profit can be made when the original loan is repaid “Ideally stoozing would be most appropriate for consumers …

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New words – 8 January 2018

up lit noun [U] /ˈʌp lɪt/ a literary genre comprising books that make the reader feel optimistic A bruising year dominated by political and economic uncertainty … has, publishers say, kickstarted a new trend they have have branded “up lit”. In contrast with the “grip lit” thrillers that were the market leaders until recently, more …

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New words – 22 May 2017

sensitivity reader noun [C] UK /ˌsen.sɪˈtɪv.ə.ti.riː.dəʳ/ US /ˌsen.səˈtɪv.ə.t̬i.riː.dɚ/ someone who reads a book not yet published in order to check the content for anything that may offend certain groups of people It’s not clear that authors are equally free to ignore the censoriousness of “sensitivity readers”, to whom some American editors are currently sending unpublished …

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New words – 1 May 2017

Chief Happiness Officer noun [C] UK /tʃiːf.ˈhæp.i.nəsˌɒf.ɪ.səʳ/ US /tʃiːfˈhæp.i.nəsˌɑː.fɪ.sɚ/ someone whose job is to ensure that employees of a particular company are happy and fulfilled Chief Happiness Officer is perhaps the most controversial job title in business. To some, it’s a sign that employee engagement is finally being taken seriously. To others, it signals an …

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Modal verbs – the basics

by Liz Walter The main modal verbs in English are: can, could, may, might, must, ought, shall, will and would. They are used to express important ideas: Alice might/will come later. (degrees of probability) You should call your mother. (advice) Often the same modal verb can be used with different functions. You must wear a helmet. …

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Turning over a new leaf: idioms and phrases for the New Year

by Liz Walter New Year is a time when we often take stock of our life (think about what is good or bad about it). We may feel that we should draw a line under the past (finish with it and forget about it) and make a fresh start. This post looks at idioms and other …

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‘You could always email him’ – how to make suggestions sound nicer.

by Kate Woodford These two speakers are giving the same piece of advice to a friend. Compare the words that they use to make the suggestion: Speaker A: You should go to a different hairdresser. Speaker B: Have you thought of going to a different hairdresser? How does speaker A sound to you? Direct? Bossy? Perhaps …

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New words – 01 February 2016

awesomesauce noun slang the state of being extremely good or enjoyable or something or someone that is extremely good or enjoyable Recovering from the awesomesauce of another fab #Vidcon!! [http://katch.me/ 03 August 2015] Sensei Yu is basically the totally best ever awesomesauce. [themostexcellentandawesomeforumever-wyrd.com 18 August 2015] Here’s a list of some of her famous, awesome-sauce …

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Specially or Especially – is there a difference?

by Liz Walter​ A reader recently asked me to explain the difference between ‘specially’ and ‘especially’. In order to find the answer, I looked at the Cambridge International Corpus, which is a collection of almost two billion words of English from many different sources. Cambridge University Press’s authors and editors use the corpus to find …

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A, an, and the: how to use articles in English

by Liz Walter​ Many learners of English have problems with articles (the words a, an and the), especially when they don’t exist in their own language. This blog looks at some of the basic rules. The number one rule is this: if a word is countable (e.g. one book, two books), you must always use …

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