My very best friend: talking about friendship

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by Liz Walter

July 30th is the United Nations’ International Day of Friendship, so this post is all about words and phrases for talking about friends and friendship.

A friend can be anyone you like and spend time with, so we use adjectives to say how much we like or love someone. A good friend or a close friend is someone you spend a lot of time with and care very much about, and your best friend is the person you love most of all:

I’d like you to meet my good friend Mateo.

He doesn’t have many close friends.

Sarah is my very best friend.

Continue reading “My very best friend: talking about friendship”

Black sheep and cans of worms: animal idioms, part 4

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By Kate Woodford

This post – the last in our popular ‘animal idioms’ series – looks at idioms featuring animals that range in size from an elephant to a worm. Most of today’s idioms have a rather negative meaning.

Let’s start with the elephant idiom. If people know that a problem exists but they find it too embarrassing or difficult to talk about, the problem may be described as the elephant in the room:

We all know that Tom will have to retire at some point, but no one mentions it – it’s the elephant in the room. Continue reading “Black sheep and cans of worms: animal idioms, part 4”

Tangy, tart and fruity: talking about flavours

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by Liz Walter

Food is one of life’s great pleasures, and it is useful to know how to describe its flavours. By the way, note that ‘flavour’ is the UK spelling; the US spelling is ‘flavor’.

The simplest way to express whether or not we are enjoying the flavour of something is to say it tastes:

This soup tastes lovely/horrible.

The sauce tasted slightly sweet. Continue reading “Tangy, tart and fruity: talking about flavours”

From one day to the next: the language of change

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by Kate Woodford

Change is something that we all have to deal with throughout our lives. Whether at work, at home or in our relationships, change is something that none of us can escape. It makes sense that we have a tremendous lot of vocabulary for describing change. In this, the first of two blogs, we look at words and expressions that describe things becoming different. Continue reading “From one day to the next: the language of change”

It was agony: talking about pain

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by Liz Walter

When we experience pain, it can be important to be able to describe it accurately. The most common way of talking about pain is with the verb hurt. We can say that part of our body hurts, or start a sentence with ‘It hurts …’  to explain when it is painful to do something:

My knee hurts.

It hurts to bend my knee / It hurts when I bend my knee. Continue reading “It was agony: talking about pain”

Bird’s-eye views and headless chickens: animal idioms, part 3

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by Kate Woodford

This is the third in our popular series of blogs about common animal idioms. We’ll start with a creature that is found in a few frequently used idioms: the bird. (Sadly, the first two idioms have their origin in hunting.) If you want to say that with one single action you achieve two separate things, you might say you kill two birds with one stone:

I thought I’d kill two birds with one stone and drop my coat off at the cleaner’s on the way to the library. Continue reading “Bird’s-eye views and headless chickens: animal idioms, part 3”

It’s all in the mind: phrases with ‘mind’

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by Liz Walter

Since our mind is the part of us that enables us to think and feel emotions, I suppose it’s not surprising that there are lots of phrases that include it. In this post I am going to talk about some of the most common and useful phrases.

When you decide something, you make up your mind or make your mind up:

It’s time to make your mind up. Are you coming with us or not? Continue reading “It’s all in the mind: phrases with ‘mind’”

Abiding memories and long-term effects: words that mean ‘lasting a long time’

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by Kate Woodford

Last week I posted a blog on the language we use to talk about things that last a short time. This post focuses on the opposite: describing things that last a long time.

Some adjectives simply mean ‘continuing for a long time’, such as lasting and prolonged: Continue reading “Abiding memories and long-term effects: words that mean ‘lasting a long time’”

Passing phases and fleeting glimpses: words that mean ‘brief’

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by Kate Woodford

Today’s post looks at words and phrases that describe things that end after a short time. A very common adjective for this is brief. A brief activity or period of time does not last long:

We had a brief phone conversation.

For a brief period she taught in the US.

Continue reading “Passing phases and fleeting glimpses: words that mean ‘brief’”

Hurling insults and hazarding a guess: ways to talk about communication

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by Liz Walter

Last month I wrote about the importance of collocations (word partners) for making your English fluent and natural. In this post I am going to concentrate on collocations connected with a very basic topic – communicating.

A major reason to learn good collocations is to avoid using common words too much. So while it’s fine to say that someone ‘starts’ or ‘has’ a conversation, it would be much more impressive to use the collocations strike up a conversation or hold a conversation:

She struck up a conversation with one of the other passengers.

I know enough French to be able to hold a conversation. Continue reading “Hurling insults and hazarding a guess: ways to talk about communication”