Sunday, 31 October 2010


Breakfast is the first meal of the day.
Brunch is a mixture between breakfast and lunch and is for those who eat at around 11 a.m.
Lunch is the midday meal.
Dinner can be eaten either at around midday or in the evening.
Tea has several meanings in Britain. It may be a cup of tea with a biscuit or cake at any time of the day. If it is a cooked meal it can be eaten at around 5 or 6 p.m.
Supper is a light meal eaten in the evening at around 5 or 6 p.m. It can also refer to a late evening snack eaten just before bedtime.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010


Our bodies become stronger or faster by being physically active. Doing sports keeps us fit and healthy.

Individual sports appeal to people who want a sense of independence and can practice whenever they like. These sports attract people who work better alone and wish to compete against themselves.

Team sports encourage a community spirit and social skills such as teamwork and leadership. An athlete trains with others and measures their performance against their teammates. Teammates encourage one another to achieve their best.

Extreme sports are for those who seek adventure and an adrenaline rush.

Monday, 25 October 2010


Shapes are mostly used in mathematics but are also used in English to describe the shape of objects and buildings (the Pentagon in the USA, the Pyramids in Egypt). e.g. It’s a square/rectangular/triangular shaped building.

Objects with many sides get their names from Greek numbers e.g. Pentagon (five), hexagon (six), octagon (eight)

Shapes are also used in certain expressions e.g. If something spirals out of control it means it is unmanageable.

Get into shape = get fit e.g. I’ve started going to the gym to get into shape.
In any shape or form = no matter what form something takes e.g. We accept money in any shape or form – paper, coins, cards etc.
In good shape = satisfactory or fit e.g. The furniture is in good shape so we won’t have a problem selling it.
In the shape of = in the form of e.g. I want my kitchen table to be in the shape of an oval.

Be square
= dull e.g. Nobody wants to spend time with him as he’s square.
Go back to square one = return to the beginning e.g. The client doesn’t like the drawings so we have to go back to square one.
Square meal = sufficient e.g. We have three square meals a day and don’t eat snacks.
Fair and square = honest e.g. They won the competition, fair and square.

Go round in circles
= no progress e.g. I went round in circles trying to contact him but nobody knew where he was.
Square the circle = attempt the impossible e.g. They’re trying to square the circle and finish the project in two hours!
Vicious circle = a chain of problematic events e.g. We are caught up in a never ending vicious circle with our competitors.

Saturday, 23 October 2010

All or nothing (binomials)

In English, binomials are two-word expressions joined by a conjunction e.g. and, or, but etc.

Back and forth / to and from /there and back (from one place to another) e.g. They sent us back and forth to various government departments for official stamps.

Down and out (without a home or money) e.g. Many factory workers have been down and out following the closure of the company.

First and foremost (most importantly) e.g. First and foremost, I would like to welcome our guests.

Give and take (compromise) e.g. In order for a marriage to be successful there has to be some give and take.

Give or take / more or less (approximately) e.g. It should be sorted out in two weeks, give or take.

Here and there (scattered around) e.g. There a few bakeries here and there in the city.

Last but not least (finally) e.g. Last but not least, we would like to thank you for your participation.

Law and order (police enforcement of law) e.g. Following the demonstrations, the police were called in to impose law and order.

Leaps and bounds (great improvement) e.g. Ever since she started private lessons, she has improved in leaps and bounds.

Neat and tidy (well-ordered) e.g. How important do you think it is to be neat and tidy?

Odds and ends (small, unimportant things) e.g. I’ve got some odds and ends to take care of this Sunday.

On and off /Now and then (occasionally) e.g. We don’t see them very often but they call us now and then.

Out and about (going out) e.g. He’s not at home. He’s out and about.

Part and parcel (part of) e.g. Being rebellious is part and parcel of being a teenager.

Peace and quiet (calm) e.g. We’re driving to the countryside to get some peace and quiet.

Pick and choose (a wide choice) e.g. There are many tools at the D.I.Y store. You can pick and choose what you like.

Safe and sound (unharmed) e.g. When my children are out, I can only sleep once I know they are safe and sound in their beds.

Sick and tired (fed up) e.g. I’m sick and tired of my job that’s why I’m looking for a new one.

Slowly but surely (gradually) e.g. The government is making improvements in the area, slowly but surely.

Sooner or later (someday) e.g. Sooner or later our planet will look like a giant rubbish bin.

Take it or leave it (accept or reject something) e.g. That’s out final offer, take it or leave it.

Up and down (in both directions) e.g. We went up and down the street looking for their house.

Wine and dine (entertain) e.g. We are wining and dining our clients from Kazakhstan this evening.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Culture file (Tihar and Bhai Tika - Nepal)

Tihar is a five-day festival worshipping the Hindu Goddess of Fortune and Wealth (Goddess Laxmi) as well as different animals. During this time, great meals are cooked at home, kites are flown and homes and streets are decorated.

The Bhai Tika festival in Nepal is celebrated on the fifth and final day of the Festival of Light (Tihar) during the months of October and November and celebrates the bond between a sister and her brother. Bhai in Nepali means brother and Tika is the temporary mark of saffron and rice grains on a brother’s forehead which consists of five colours (red, green, blue, yellow and white) and protects him from evil. A sister prays for her brother's long life and draws a boundary (mandap) around him with oil using doob grass. A sister then gives her brother a shagun of fruit, sweets and gifts. She also sings and prays for her brother's longevity and prosperity. At the end of the ceremony, a brother blesses his sister and presents her with gifts or money.

Saturday, 16 October 2010

Colour idioms


out of the blue = unexpectedly e.g. Out of the blue he asked me if I liked salad.
once in a blue moon = not very often e.g. She comes to visit once in a blue moon.
until one is blue in the face = endlessly e.g. You can shout and scream until you're blue in the face, I'm still going to the concert!
have the blues = be depressed e.g. He has the blues these days and walks around the office with a long face.
blue-eyed boy = a favourite e.g. He's always been a blue-eyed boy, getting special treatment from the staff.
blue blood = aristocratic origin e.g. They are blue blooded and have lived in that enormous castle all their lives.

to have green fingers = talented at gardening e.g. Have you seen her garden? She has green fingers and plants flowers in every corner!
green with envy = very envious e.g. They were green with envy when their neighbours bought that fancy sports car.
green light = permission to start e.g. We've been given the green light so we can start working on the project.

in the red = in debt e.g. The company is in the red. We'll have to start selling some of our assets.
red tape = annoying official regulations e.g. It took over 6 months for us to get a passport. There is so much red tape involved.
to catch someone red-handed = find someone in the act of doing something wrong e.g. The thief was caught red-handed trying to steal the car.
to see red = to become very angry e.g. When I heard the gossip, I saw red and went straight to her office.
red carpet treatment = formal and elaborate e.g. Last week, the president visited our city and received red carpet treatment.
paint the town red = celebrate e.g. When I graduated, we painted the town red and went clubbing all night.

black sheep of the family = someone who doesn't conform to the family's wishes e.g. We are all lawyers except for Rita who is the black sheep of the family and became an artist.
black list = list of unsuitable people e.g. He failed to report to the local police station and was black listed.
black market = source of illegal goods e.g. We couldn't find basic goods anywhere so we turned to the black market.
black out = lose consciousness e.g. She fainted, fell on the floor and had a complete black out.

a white lie = lie told to avoid hurting someone's feelings e.g. I don't feel guilty at all. It was a small white lie!
white as a sheet = very white e.g. When he heard the shocking news he became white as a sheet.


off colour = unwell e.g. He'll a little off colour. I think it has to do with the food poisoning.
show your true colours = reveal oneself as one really is e.g. I knew he'd finally show his true colours. He was acting all along.

Friday, 15 October 2010


For men
Mr (Mister) is used before a surname e.g. Mr Jones or a full name e.g. Mr Tom Jones
Messrs is the plural of Mr and is used in business English for company names e.g. Messrs White and Brown

For women
Ms /miz/is used when we don't know if a woman is married or not. This is the most commonly used title today.
Mrs is used before a surname for married women e.g. Mrs Jones or before a full name e.g. Mrs Angelina Jones
Miss is used for unmarried women. e.g. Miss Jones

For men/women
Doctor/Dr if they are a medical doctor or have a doctorate degree e.g. Dr Jones

A pair of...

Thursday, 14 October 2010

Some phrasal verbs with “down”

Put something down e.g. The exam is over. Please put your pens down.
Take something down e.g. The police took the offensive posters down.
Turn something down e.g. We’re trying to sleep. Turn the volume down.
Write something down e.g. I wrote his number down and I’ll call him later.
Knock down a building/person by a car etc e.g. She was knocked down by a bus.
Calm down e.g. You’ll pass the exam. Calm down.
Slow down e.g. What happened? You’re speaking too fast. Slow down.
Break down (stop working) e.g. Our car broke down on the highway yesterday.
Cut down on (reduce) e.g. I have to cut down on junk food. I’m always eating it.
Turn someone/something down (refuse) e.g. They offered me the position but I turned it down.
Shut /close down (stop doing business) e.g. The mall shut down as it wasn’t making any profit.
Let someone down (disappoint) e.g. He was expecting me to do well but I let him down.

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Some idioms with "day"

All day long = continuously e.g. We had awful weather. It rained all day long.
Any day now = soon e.g. The results will be coming out any day now.
Day in day out = continuously for several days e.g. My job is boring and monotonous. I do the same tasks day in day out.
One of these days = in the future e.g. One of these days, I’m sure we’ll catch the biggest fish in the river.
Good old days = to remember the past with fondness e.g. Do you remember the good old days when vegetables were fresh.
Make a day of it = spend all day doing something enjoyable e.g. We don’t often get to spend the weekend in the countryside, so we had better make a day of it.
Make somebody’s day = give somebody a welcome surprise e.g. When I went to work, all the filing was done. It really made my day.
Not to have all day = limited time e.g. Hurry up! I don’t have all day.
Off-day = when things go wrong e.g. He was having one of those off-days. The car broke down, it was raining and his bag was stolen.
Old days = distant past e.g. There weren’t any computers in the old days.
Save the day = prevent a failure e.g. The technician was able to fix the problem and so saved the day.
The other day = recently e.g. Did you watch the film the other day.
To have seen better days = outlived its usefulness e.g. Your shoes look worn out. They’ve seen better days.
That will be the day! = very unlikely e.g. That will be the day! He never comes to work on time!
At the end of the day = finally e.g. At the end of the day, you can always do the exam again.
Call it a day = bring to an end e.g. We are all tired. We’ve been working for hours. Let’s call it a day.
Early days = too soon to be sure e.g. The operation seemed to have gone well but it’s early days.
Have a field day = happy doing something e.g. The children had a field day painting the classroom.
Tomorrow is another day = there will be another opportunity e.g. Don’t worry about it. Tomorrow is another day. There are plenty of opportunities

Monday, 11 October 2010

Ielts Task 1 - Vocabulary to describe trends

Synonyms for "important"

Important, vital, critical, crucial, essential, fundamental, key, necessary, requisite, indispensable, significant, central, main, chief, imperative, weighty, eminent

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Prepositions after certain words

Bad/Good at e.g. She’s good at swimming.
Laugh at e.g. They laughed at her when she was young as she was very tall.
Shout at e.g. The boss shouted at me for being late.
Smile at e.g. He smiled at me through the window.

Divided into e.g. The exam is divided into four sections.
Enter into an agreement e.g. They entered into an agreement with the government.

Accuse someone of something e.g. They accused me of parking in front of the emergency exit.
Afraid of e.g. We are afraid of flying.
Example of e.g. I wouldn’t say that was a very good example of a good song.
Remind someone of e.g. He reminds me of one of my classmates.

Depend on e.g. The country depends on imports from abroad.
Insist on e.g. They insisted on getting a better price.
Operate on e.g. The surgeon operated on him last week.

Agree to a suggestion e.g. They agreed to rent the flat at half price.
Rude/Polite/Nice/Kind to e.g. They were kind to us when we needed help.
Listen to e.g. Do you like listening to pop music?
Married to e.g. She’s married to Philip.

Agree with someone, an opinion or policy e.g. She agreed with me.
Fight with e.g. We had a fight with the neighbours because they were noisy.
Ill with e.g. I was ill with the flu last week.

Saturday, 9 October 2010

Art from China by Roy (ex-student)


What do you do? What’s your occupation? What’s your profession?
I’m a/an…

Many jobs end in er, or, ist and ian
er: teacher, interpreter, worker, producer, singer, dancer, announcer, supplier, writer, swimmer, manager, miner, plumber, window cleaner, barber, builder, researcher, painter, butcher, soldier, police officer, cashier, lawyer, computer programmer, engineer, boxer, footballer, photographer

or: director, translator, sailor, tailor, operator, inspector, actor, editor, governor, doctor, decorator, investigator, instructor, bus conductor

ist: pianist, economist, artist, cyclist, guitarist, scientist, psychiatrist, florist, journalist, linguist, archeologist, dentist, chemist, typist

ian: electrician, historian, politician, musician, magician, comedian, beautician, optician, librarian

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Some idioms with "cut"

Cut above the rest = superior e.g. I must admit that the Hungarian salami was a cut above the rest.
Cut back = economize e.g. Due to the economic crises we’ve had to cut back on staff travel.
Cut down to size = reduce someone’s arrogance e.g. He was showing off about his new expensive car, so I cut him down to size.
Cut in = interrupt e.g. Can I just cut in here and say I don’t agree with what you’re saying.
Cut it out = stop doing that! e.g. Cut it out at the back. I’m trying to drive.
Cut off = interruption in a telephone conversation e.g. The signal was bad so our telephone conversation was cut off.
Cut off without a penny = disinherit e.g. Even though her uncle is really rich, she got cut off without a penny.
Cut short = interrupt e.g. The meeting was cut short when the Chairman was called away.
Cut up = upset e.g. She was really cut up when the marriage ended.
Short cut = quicker way e.g. Do you know a short cut into town? We’re already late.
Cut a long story short = shorten e.g. To cut a long story short, I managed to give in my assignment on time.
Cut corners = economize in time or materials e.g. I think the building collapsed because the contractors tried to cut corners using cheap material.
Cut one’s losses = stop doing something to minimize losses e.g. We should try to cut our losses while it’s earlier and sell our stock.
Cut off one’s nose to spite one’s face = suffer harm while trying to harm someone else e.g. He wanted to have his revenge but I told him not to cut off his nose to spite his face.
Cut the air with a knife = a tense atmosphere e.g. We went for drinks after their argument. It was so uncomfortable that you could cut the air with a knife.

Monday, 4 October 2010

Put on/dress/wear

Put on (phrasal verb)
You put one item of clothing on at a time.
e.g. I put on my shirt, coat and shoes then went out.
e.g. Please put your boots on. It’s cold outside.

To dress (verb)
When you get dressed, you put all your clothes on.
e.g. I can usually get dressed in ten minutes!
e.g. Bank employees usually dress very formally.

A dress (noun) is a particular item of women’s clothing.
e.g. She wore an evening dress.

Dress up (phrasal verb) means to look formal or to become something/someone else.
e.g. It’s a college party. There’s no need to dress up!
e.g. I got dressed up as Michael Jackson for the fancy dress party.

To wear (verb)
When you finish getting dressed, you are wearing your clothes.
e.g. We usually wear jeans.
e.g. What are you wearing?

Cuture file (Chinese paper cutting - jiǎn zhǐ)

Paper cutting (jiǎn zhǐ) is an ancient Chinese art form that had its beginnings after the invention of paper. Modern paper cutting is used to decorate doors, windows, lanterns in homes or given as a gift and is thought to bring good luck. There are many subjects used for paper cuts like landscapes, flowers, scenes from traditional stories, animals from the horoscope and they reflect aspects of life such as harvests, health, happiness and prosperity.