Thursday, 30 September 2010

Some idioms with “break”

Lucky break = good luck e.g. They got their lucky break when they went on the talent show.
Break a leg = good luck e.g. I’m sure you’ll do well on stage. Break a leg.
Break a habit = stop a habit e.g. It’s difficult to break a habit like smoking because you become addicted to nicotine.
Break a record = do better than a previous performance e.g. Do you think he’ll break the 100 metres record?
Break down = lose emotional control e.g. She was so upset about the divorce, she broke down, started crying and wouldn’t stop!
Break in on = interrupt e.g. I’m sorry to break in on your discussion but we need to move on to the next topic.
Break into = force an entry e.g. When we were on holiday, burglars broke into our flat and stole our TV.
Break new ground = make a discovery e.g. The researchers broke new ground yesterday in finding a cure for the illness.
Break of day = dawn e.g. We woke up at the break of day and headed for the mountains.
Break off = stop suddenly e.g. She broke off the engagement! Can you believe it? We were together for 10 years!
Break someone’s heart = upset someone e.g. She broke my heart when she told me she didn’t want to be with me.
Break something down = separate into small pieces e.g. We didn’t understand the maths problem, so the teacher broke it down for us.
Break the ice = create a relaxed atmosphere e.g. I can see we are all nervous here, so I’m going to break the ice and introduce myself.
Break the news = pass on information e.g. The doctor had to break the sad news to the family.
Make or break = succeed or fail e.g. This is his last chance. He’s either going to make it or break it.
Break out in a rash
= suddenly have a rash e.g. We went to pick wild berries in the hills and I broke out in a rash. I must be allergic to some plant.

Wednesday, 29 September 2010


Feel can be used to talk about one’s physical, mental or emotional well-being.

e.g. How do you feel? / How are you feeling? I feel fine. /I’m feeling fine.
e.g.Do you feel happy?
e.g. I feel cold in winter.
e.g. She felt like an idiot for not calling back.

Feel can be used when something else causes sensations.
e.g. The Thai massage felt great.
e.g. While sitting outside, I felt a cockroach crawling up my leg.

Feel can be used to talk about opinions.
e.g. I feel that the government should do something about it.
e.g. She had a feeling that he was making a big mistake.
e.g. We felt it necessary to tell the manager about what had happened.

Feel like = want/would like
e.g. I feel like drinking something. Have you got any tea?
e.g. I felt like laughing when I saw him walk into a wall.
e.g. I felt like playing a game of tennis yesterday.

Feel = touch
e.g. I felt her forehead to see if she had a temperature.
e.g. The lights were closed, so I felt my way around the room.

It feels like (to compare your feelings with something else)
e.g. I was so tired. My body felt like a bag of potatoes.

Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Some idioms with “back”

Back and forth = from one place to another e.g. We went to hand in our forms and they sent us back and forth from one department to another.
Back-breaking work = exhausting e.g. It took us one month of back-breaking work to complete the proposal.
Back down = give in e.g. After the demonstration, the mayor backed down on his plans to build a parking lot.
Back-fire = go wrong e.g. Their plan to rob a bank back-fired and the police caught them.
Back of beyond = remote e.g. He’s decided to move to the back of beyond, to a village I’ve never heard of.
At the back of one’s mind = remaining in one’s thoughts e.g. I’ve had the band’s new song at the back of my mind the whole day.
Back to the drawing-board / back to square one = return to the beginning e.g. The client wasn’t pleased with our advertisement so we had to go back to the drawing-board.
Back up = support e.g. I’m not worried about my business failing. I have some savings, so I have back up.
Behind one’s back = without one’s knowledge e.g. They went behind my back and ordered a bigger cake for the office party.
Get off somebody’s back = stop harassing e.g. I wish you’d get off my back! I’m going to take the garbage out now!
Have no backbone = lacking courage e.g. He never disagrees with anything during meetings. He has no backbone.
Like the back of a bus = ugly e.g. I would never date him. He looks like the back of a bus!
Like the back of one’s hand = know well e.g. We’ve lived here for 50 years and know the area like the back of our hands.
Put one’s back into = make an effort e.g. Come on everyone. Put your back into it! How are we going to win the race?
See the back of = be finished with e.g. I’m so glad he left the company. I’m happy to see the back of him.
Stab in the back = betrayal e.g. I thought she was my friend but she stabbed me in the back and told everyone my secret.
Take a back seat = not to be directly involved e.g. She’s resigned from the position of Director and is taking a back seat in the running of the company.
You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours = to return a favour e.g. If you help me win the contract, I will make sure you get a promotion. You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Big, large and great

We use big and large with concrete nouns (things you can see, touch etc)

e.g. Can you see that big tree over there? There was a large pond in the middle of the park.

Great with concrete nouns means:

Fantastic e.g. We saw a great flat downtown.
Famous/Important e.g. Shakespeare was a great playwright.

Large and Extraordinary e.g. Did you see the great opening for the Chinese Olympic Games 2008?

Great is used with abstract nouns (things you can’t see, touch etc)

e.g. I have a great idea! Let’s go shopping.
e.g. She studied hard and made a great improvement.

Large with countable abstract nouns is used for:

Quantities: e.g. We placed a large order for our busy shopping season.
Amounts: e.g. A large amount of time is spent on shopping. We spend a large part of the weekend shopping.

Sunday, 26 September 2010

Some idioms with "eye"

All eyes = paying attention e.g. All eyes were on China during the Olympic Games 2008.
Have a good eye for = be a good judge e.g. He has a good eye for fashion and dresses well.
Have eyes at the back of one’s head = aware of something you shouldn't know about e.g. We can’t do anything naughty in class, Mrs. Roberts has eyes at the back of her head.
Have ones one’s eyes on = take a liking to e.g. They have their eyes on the first prize.
In the public eye = famous e.g. People in the public eye don't have any privacy.
Keep an eye out for = watch out for e.g. Keep an eye out for the crocodile that escaped from the zoo.
Meet somebody’s eyes = look at face to face e.g. We meet each other’s eyes for a moment and then she looked away.
Naked eye = with our eyes only e.g. It’s impossible to see germs with the naked eye.
Not to be able to take one’s eyes off somebody/something = can’t stop looking. e.g. She looked so beautiful in an evening gown, I couldn’t take my eyes off her.
Private eye = detective e.g. They hired a private eye to find out who was sending them anonymous letters.
See eye to eye = agree e.g. We don’t always see to eye to eye on political matters.
See with one’s own eyes = witness personally e.g. I’m going to check the leak with my own eyes.
Turn a blind eye to = pretend not to see e.g. Many workers don’t have work permits but employers turns a blind eye.
Up to one’s eyes = very busy e.g. Ever since I returned from my holiday I’m up to my eyes in paperwork.
With one’s eyes shut = very easily e.g. I’m so used to making burgers I can make them with my eyes shut.
Eye witness = see an incident e.g. They were eye witnesses to the car accident.

Do/Would you mind…? I don’t mind

We usually use 'mind' in questions and negative sentences (to mean ‘object to’).
Do you mind looking after my dog this weekend? Sure!
Do you mind if I smoke? Yes I do!
Do you mind if we leave earlier so we don’t get caught in traffic?
Do you mind if we check our emails? No, please do. That’s okay.

I don’t mind going to the supermarket.
I don’t mind if you use my computer.
We don’t mind what we do after dinner.

When we want to ask someone to do something, we say ‘Would you mind…?’
Would you mind opening the door for us? Not at all.
Would you mind helping the neighbours carry their shopping inside?

Thursday, 23 September 2010

Some idioms with "keep"

In keeping with = as appropriate e.g. In keeping with the company policy, all employees should wear a uniform.
Keep an eye on/keep tabs on = watch careful e.g. Keep an eye on him. I don’t trust him at all.
Keep a straight face = try not to laugh e.g. I found her answers to the interview questions really funny but I had to keep a straight face.
Keep at it = don't give up e.g. We has difficulties in the beginning but we kept at it and finally managed to build a successful business.
Keep going = continue e.g. The athlete was tired but kept going till the end.
Keep in touch = keep communicating e.g. Good luck with your new job. Keep in touch.
Keep it to yourself = do not tell anyone e.g. So now you know my secret but please keep it to yourself.
Keep one’s fingers crossed = wish for success e.g. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for my daughter who has exams today.
Keep one’s word = keep a promise e.g. They kept their promise and gave us free tickets to the football match.
Keep up with = maintain the same rate of progress e.g. It’s difficult to keep up with all the changes in technology.
You can keep it = I don’t want it! e.g. I don’t need the book. You can keep it.
Keep a low profile = remain unnoticeable e.g. It feels like she doesn’t even work here as she keeps a low profile.
Keep one’s options open = remain open to other suggestions e.g. I’ve had a job offer but I don’t think I’ll accept it as I want to keep my options open.

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Types of travel (vocabulary)

To go on a journey/trip/cruise/voyage/expedition/safari
To make a journey

Travel is travelling in general – going from one place to another.
e.g. We enjoy travelling. You can read about our travels on our blog.
e.g. The President travelled to New York for peace talks.

A journey is a long trip.
e.g. How long did your journey last? It took a week.

A trip is a short return journey and includes a reason; business or pleasure. e.g. day trip, round trip
e.g. I’m going to Taiwan on a business trip next month. How was your trip to Italy?

A cruise is a holiday where you visit a number of places by boat.
e.g. The prices for cruises to the Caribbean have been reduced.

A voyage is a long sea journey. We don’t usually use this word today.
e.g. Before setting out on a voyage, the Vikings waited for good winds.

An expedition is an organized trip to explore the environment e.g. a fishing expedition, a shopping expedition.
e.g. We are going on an expedition to the North Pole.

A safari is to observe wild animals in their natural environment in Africa.
e.g. On our Zimbabwe safari we spotted elephants, lions, zebras, monkeys, giraffes and crocodiles.

Tuesday, 21 September 2010

Some idioms with "go"

Be on the go = be active e.g. She’s always on the go. She hardly ever gets to relax.
From the word go = from the beginning e.g. They were involved in the project from the word go.
Go against the grain = oppose popular trends e.g. He went against the grain and married someone 20 years older than him.
Go ahead = continue/go before e.g. I’m running late. Go ahead and I’ll meet you later.
Go back on = break a promise or agreement e.g. Although the hotel offered us a good deal, they went back on their offer.
Go bust = become bankrupt e.g. The corner shop wasn’t doing too well and went bust last month.
Go downhill = worsen e.g. After his divorce, he went completely downhill, losing his job and friends.
Go halves/ go Dutch/ go fifty-fifty = share equally e.g. Let’s go Dutch with the dinner bill.
Go off = become bad e.g. We left the milk in the fridge when we went on our world tour and it went off!
Go off someone = become less interested e.g. I really liked that actor but now I’ve gone off him.
Go on = continue e.g. What happened after that? Go on.
Go out of one’s way = take extra trouble to do something e.g. They went out of their way to show us around Hanoi.
Go round = avoid e.g. Can we go around this rule?
Go through with = fulfill a commitment e.g. The government is going through with their proposal to build a new hospital.
Go to one’s head = become over-confident e.g. All that fame and media attention is going to her head.
Go to sleep = become numb e.g. I was watching TV all day and my leg went to sleep!
Go without saying = need not be mentioned e.g. It goes without saying that you are welcome to stay with us whenever you like.
Have a go = make an attempt e.g. I know it’s a difficult language, but I’m going to have a go at it.
Here we go again = the same thing is happening again e.g. Here we go again! He’s going to start telling us his university stories!
Go easy on somebody = be lenient with someone e.g. She’s just finished university and has no work experience, so go easy on her.

Monday, 20 September 2010

Student Profile - Spain

Discourse markers for IELTS

Discourse markers link what a speaker is saying now with what has already been said or what is going to be said.

Giving examples
For example (e.g.), for instance, such as, in particular
e.g. I enjoy sports such as tennis, basketball and volleyball.

Giving details
In other words, that is to say, I mean
e.g. I like water polo, sailing, water skiing, that is to say, I enjoy all types of water sports.

Giving an opinion
I think/feel/guess/suppose/believe, in my view/opinion
e.g. In my opinion, libraries should be open till 8pm daily.

Showing contrast
On the one hand, on the other hand, while, whereas, however, nevertheless, yet, in spite of this/that, despite this/that, on the contrary, quite the opposite
e.g. On the one hand I agree with the government's decision but on the other I wonder what will happen to ordinary citizens.

Moreover, furthermore, in addition, as well as that, what is more, also
e.g. In addition to being efficient and effective, the new product is also cheap to purchase.

Similarly, in the same way
e.g. They are concerned about the noise. Similarly, they are worried that pollution levels will increase.

Going back to the previous topic
As I was saying, to return to the previous point, as I mentioned earlier
e.g. As I mentioned earlier, price is the main factor.

Firstly/first of all / to begin with / to start with / in the first place, second (ly), third (ly), lastly, finally
e.g. First of all the workers in the hospital are overworked. Secondly they are not paid enough.

On the whole, in general / generally speaking, to a great extent, in most/some/many cases
e.g. On the whole it is fair to say that most children today play electronic games.

Therefore, as a result, consequently, so/then
e.g. Prices have increased, as a result, consumers are spending less.

Summing up
In conclusion, all in all, to sum up, in short, briefly
e.g. To sum up, the figures show that the crime rate has been reduced considerably.

Mobile text messages (txt/sms msgs)

To save time and space, text messages use words that are shortened, usually leaving out vowels (a, e, i, o, u). Numbers are also used instead of words. Here are some examples.

Abt About
Add Address
Asap As soon as possible
B2W Back to work
B4N Bye for now
Bcos because
Bday Birthday
Btw By the way
CMB Call me back
CMON Come on
C u l8r See you later
EF4T Effort
Enuf Enough
F2F Face to face
FYI For your information
G2G Got to go
G2CU Good to see you
Gnite good night
H8 Hate
HRU How are you?
HW Homework
IMAO In my arrogant opinion
LOL laugh out loud/Lots of love
MSG message
Pls please
Ppl people
RUOK Are you okay?
R u coming 2day Are you coming today?
Sry sorry
Thx Thanks
2 bsy atm, tlk l8tr Too busy at the moment, talk later
Ur your
W8 Wait
w/o without

Sunday, 19 September 2010


We use capital letters for:

Days: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday

Months: January, February, March, April, May, June, July, August, September, October, November, December

Public holidays: Easter, Christmas, Ramadan, New Year, Yom Kippur etc.

Names: Alex, Angelina, Ammar, Zayd, Tibah, David, Asrar, Manisha, Lee etc.

Titles: Dr, Mr, Mrs, Professor, Managing Director etc.

Countries, places, streets: South Africa, Vietnam, the Far East, Beijing, King Street etc.

Institutions: Ministry of Education, the United Nations, Cambridge University etc.

Nationalities, languages, religions: Canadian, Zimbabwean, French, German, Muslim, Sikh etc.

Why me? Who cares?- Rhetorical questions

Rhetorical questions are ones where an answer is not expected. These questions are used to draw attention to something, often a negative situation where the answer is ‘no’ or there is no answer.

Have you lost your tongue? (Why don’t you say anything?)
Do you know what time it is? (You are late)
Who do you think you are? What do you think you are doing? (How dare you)
Where have you been all my life? (I wish I’d met you earlier)
How would you like to be in his position? (It’s a bad situation to be in)
Are you going to let them get away with that? (You shouldn’t let them do that)
Where am I going to find a bus at this time? (There aren’t any)

Thursday, 16 September 2010


Paragraphs make it easier to read text.

They allow a reader to have a break.

They show a change of ideas or a new stage in a story.

To make a paragraph we can start on a new line and indent a sentence.

(indented sentence)→xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Or leave a blank line without indenting.



Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Numbers and 's'

A number + dozen, hundred, thousand, million, billion, a few, several = we don't use a final 's' with these numbers

For example
one dozen (12) eggs
two hundred (200) cars
three thousand (3,000) people
five million (5,000,000) Dollars
six billion (6,000,000,000) Pounds
a few hundred students
several thousand workers

Monday, 13 September 2010

“By” and “with”

By and with are used to say how someone does something.

By (+ -ing)= A method used to get a result.

e.g. They ate the coconut by cutting it open.
We do our part for the environment by recycling our old newspapers.
She arrived at the party earlier by taking a short cut.

With= What tool we use to get a result.
e.g. We opened the can with a can opener.
He got into the house with his key.

Sunday, 12 September 2010

Vocabulary in pictures (technology)

Using the verb "to be" (am, is, are)

I am...
You/we/they are...
He/she/it is...

For physical conditions: We are cold, hot, warm, hungry, thirsty, sleepy, afraid, happy, lucky etc.

Age: He is almost 30. He is young.

Height: That basketball player is 2 metres tall.

Weight: The weight of the chair is 2 kilos.

Colour: Her eyes are blue.

Size: What size is that dress?

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Verb collocations

Collocations are words that often go together.

Catch a taxi / a bus / a criminal / a cold / someone doing something / what someone says

Change your clothes / jobs / you mind / the subject / trains / the TV channel / currency

Exchange ideas / information / phone numbers / greetings

Find a cure for a disease / the answer to a question / the solution to a problem / your way

Lose interest in someone or something / your job / your temper / your way / contact with someone / an election / something

Offer someone a drink / advice / an explanation / an opinion / someone a lift somewhere / someone a job

Save energy / money / time /someone

Take an exam / a joke / responsibility for something / notes / medicine

Vocabulary in pictures (advertising)

Vocabulary in pictures (education)

Monday, 6 September 2010

Some idioms with "all"

All of a sudden=suddenly e.g. All of a sudden there was a strong wind.
All along=from the beginning e.g. If you knew about it all along, why didn’t you say something?
All set= ready e.g. We were all set to go once the taxi arrived.
All the same=no difference e.g. Travelling by bus, train and underground is all the same to me.
All in all=generally e.g. All in all I think it was a good evening.
All out=maximum effort e.g. They went all out to show us around the city. We visited all the monuments and attractions.
All rounder=having various skills e.g. Megan is an all rounder. She’s good at sports, a good student and popular.
All things considered/when all is said and done=taking everything into account e.g. All things considered, we’ll take that model.
Get away from it all=escape from everyday routine e.g. They went on a long trip to get away from it all.