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Are you a glass-half-full person? (Everyday Idioms)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Kate Woodford
glass-half-full
A reader of this blog recently asked for a post on idioms that are used in everyday English. This seemed like a reasonable request. After all, if you are going to make the effort to learn a set of English idioms, you want those idioms to be useful. The question, then, was how to decide which idioms to write about. There are a great number of idioms in the English language, but some are rarely used. In the end, I decided to keep an idioms diary for a week, and make a note of any idioms that I heard people use in conversation. From this set of idioms, I chose a few that I considered to be common in contemporary, conversational English and have presented them here.

Early in the week, a radio presenter told his colleague that she was ‘opening up a can of…

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What’s she like? Idioms to describe personality

Sometimes, we have to keep ourselves to ourselves.

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter​
idioms_personality
Students of English are usually introduced to personality words such as friendly, shy, confident or lazy fairly early on in their studies. This blog offers a selection of colourful yet common idioms that can offer a more interesting response to the question ‘What’s s/he like?’.

For instance, we often say that shy people wouldn’t say boo to a goose (British)/wouldn’t say boo (US), while lazy people don’t lift a finger and tend to think that the world owes them a living. Someone who is always confident enough to give their opinion is not backward in coming forward. (This phrase usually implies that the person is a little bit more assertive than the speaker would like!)

A useful way of describing the sort of person who frequently manages to cause offence or annoyance is to say that they tend to rub…

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I’m very close to my sister: words and phrases for talking about your family

Sisterhood

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter

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There is a saying that blood is thicker than water, which means that the bond we have with family members is stronger than with anyone else. Whether you agree with that or not, chatting about our families is something that most of us do quite often, so it isn’t surprising that words for family members and words to describe their personalities are often among the first things we learn in a new language.  In this post, I aim to build on that by presenting some less obvious words and phrases for talking about families.

We use the phrase immediate family to describe the closest members of our family – usually our parents, children, wife or husband. In some cases, especially if we live with them, it may include our siblings (brothers and sisters). Our extended family is all the people we are related…

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Getting into the holiday spirit? Idioms and phrases for family gatherings

Spending too much time with relatives sometimes can be frustrating.

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

by Liz Walter

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At this time of year, many people around the world gather with their families to celebrate Christmas, Hanukah, Kwanzaa, and other festivals. Relatives come to stay with you, share large meals, and give presents. It sounds lovely, doesn’t it? But when families get together, there can be tension, too. This post looks at some common idioms and phrases that we use to describe what can happen when families have a little too much togetherness.

In our dreams, we imagine cosy family meals with the kids on their best behaviour and everyone being careful to steer clear of(avoid) those topics they know will cause Great-Uncle Henry to go off on one (UK )/go off on someone (US). We want our parties to go (UK) / go off (US) with a bang  (be very successful) so that everyone has a whale…

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