Monday, 29 November 2010


There are many ways to thank someone in English.

Thank you.
Thanks a lot.
Thank you very much.
Thanks a million.

It was very kind of you.

I appreciate your help.
You have been very helpful.

When someone says ‘thank you’, you may say:-

You’re welcome.
That’s OK/alright.
No problem.
Not at all.
Don’t mention it.
It was nothing.
It’s my pleasure.
Any time.

If someone tries to help but isn't successful, we can say:-

Thank you for trying.
Thanks anyway.
Never mind. Thanks
It doesn’t matter. Thank you.

Sunday, 28 November 2010

Paraphrasing in spoken language

Paraphrasing in spoken language is when you repeat things in a different way.

It is used when you want to make sure you have understood what someone has said.

Let me get this clear/straight....
What you mean is....
What you are saying is....
So you mean....

or when you want to make sure that your meaning is clear to someone else.

In other words....
What I mean is....
What I'm trying to say is....

Friday, 26 November 2010

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Expressions used to describe people

A big-mouth = someone who can’t keep a secret
A bookworm = loves reading books
Bossy = likes telling others what to do
A chatterbox = can’t stop talking
Cheap = someone who doesn’t like spending money
Clueless = someone who has no idea what is going on
Down to earth = a practical person
Easygoing = has a relaxed attitude
A high flier = is clever and ambitious and looks for promotion and success
A killjoy = prevents others from enjoying themselves
A know-it-all = someone who thinks they know everything
A lazybones = someone who isn’t active or energetic
A nosey parker = pokes their nose into other people’s business
An odd-ball = someone strange
Pigheaded = stubborn
Pushy = forceful
A scatterbrain = is confused and forgetful
A slowcoach / slowpoke = someone who is slow
A quick study = someone who learns very fast
A workaholic = loves to work

Monday, 22 November 2010

Expressions with 'look'

Look after somebody/something = take care of e.g. Can you look after our dog this weekend?
Look ahead = think and plan for the future e.g. We have to look ahead if we want to make a profit.
Look at = examine e.g. Look at this proposal and let me know what you think.
Look back = remember something from the past e.g. When I look back, I realize it was a crazy thing to do.
Look down on = think someone is less important than you e.g. They looked down on us because we were waiters.
Look for = to try to find something/someone e.g. I’ve been looking for my keys all morning.
Look forward to = excited about a future event e.g. I’m looking forward to the concert.
Look into = investigate e.g. The police are looking into the bank robbery.
Look out! =take care e.g. Look out! There is a car coming.
Look out for something/somebody = look carefully e.g. Look out for Lucy, her plane has landed.
Look over something = examine quickly e.g. I looked over my notes before the presentation.
Look through something = examine carefully e.g. I looked through the files for the missing document.
Look up = to search for information e.g. We looked up the number in the directory.
Look up = starting to improve e.g. Things are beginning to look up.
Look up to = respect e.g. He has always looked up to his older brother.

From the look of things = judging by appearances e.g. From the look of things, the shop is doing great.
Not much to look at = unattractive e.g. The car is not much to look at but it is reliable.
Look on the bright side = be cheerful in spite of difficulties e.g. Look on the bright side, at least you got tickets to the concert.
Look his/her age = appear as old as he/she really is e.g. She doesn’t look her age at all.
New look = fresh appearance e.g. Her new hairstyle gives her a completely new look.

Thursday, 18 November 2010

Phrasal verbs with ‘go’

Go about = begin dealing with something e.g. What’s the best way to go about researching the topic?
Go about something = to continue with an activity e.g. They went about their business as usual.

Go after somebody = chase e.g. Should we go after her?
Go after something = try to get something you want e.g. Are you planning to go after that managerial position?

Go against something = go against a rule/belief e.g. It goes against my principles to cheat in an exam.
Go against something/somebody = do the opposite e.g. I went against my parents' suggestions and became an accountant.

Go ahead = begin doing something e.g. We’re going ahead with the concert.

Go along with something/somebody = support an idea/opinion e.g. I went along with Joan's idea for the shopping mall.

Go around = many people getting an illness e.g. I caught a cold that’s been going around.
Go around = visit someone e.g. We went around to her place for tea.
Go around = enough for everyone e.g. Are there enough photocopies to go around?
Go around = to dress in a particular way e.g. He goes around in jeans.

Go away = ask someone to leave e.g. Please go away.
Go away = disappear e.g. The feeling won’t go away.

Go back = return e.g. We went back to India
Go back on = break a promise e.g. I don’t like to go back on my word.
Go back to something = to return to what you were doing e.g. We went back to work after lunch.
Go back to somebody = begin a relationship again with the same person e.g. Would you ever go back to him?

Go down = reduced e.g. House prices went down in January.
Go down = sunset e.g. We watched the sun go down.
Go down = ship/airplane accident e.g. The plane went down 5 minutes after take off.
Go down = enjoyable/easy to eat e.g. Some fries would go down nicely right now.

Go for something = choose e.g. I went for the green jumper.
Go for = sold at a price e.g. The book went for 20 dollars.
Go for = try to achieve something e.g. I’m going for that job.
Go for = like a particular type of thing/person e.g. Joan goes for younger men.

Go into = to describe, discuss, examine in detail e.g. I don’t want to go into detail now.
Go into = hit e.g. The car went into a tree.
Go into = time/money/effort spent on a product or activity e.g. A lot of work has gone into the project.
Go in with somebody = become someone’s business partner e.g. They went into business together.

Go off = explode e.g. The fireworks went off on New Year's Eve.
Go off = food or drink that can't be consumed e.g. The milk went off as we forgot to put it in the fridge.
Go off with = steal/take without asking e.g. Someone went off with my phone.

Go on = continue e.g. Life goes on.
Go on! = encourage someone to do something e.g. Go on! You can do it.
Go on = money spent on something e.g. Most of our income goes on shopping.
Go on = continue what you are saying e.g. Finish your story, go on.

Go out with somebody = have a romantic relationship with someone e.g. They've been going out for quite a while.

Go through something = to experience an unpleasant/difficult event e.g. He went through a difficult time after he lost his job.
Go through something = check the contents e.g. I went through my bag looking for my phone.

Go under = fail financially e.g. The company went under and couldn't cover its costs.

Go up = increase e.g. The price of cars has gone up.

Go without = to not have something e.g. We had to go without electricity when we didn't pay the bill.

Monday, 15 November 2010


Onomatopoeia is a word that is associated with the sound it makes. If someone jumps into a swimming pool, for example, we can describe this noise as 'splash'. Many are related to the noises that animals make such as 'buzz' (bee), 'meow' (cat), 'moo' (cow) etc. Onomatopoeia differs across languages.

Light and repeated sounds: trickle (water), drizzle (rain), sizzle (food frying), giggle (laughter)

Liquids sounds: spray, sprinkle, squirt

Metallic sounds: clang, clash

Miserable sounds: groan, grumble, grunt

Violent sounds: smash, crash

Sunday, 14 November 2010


Proverbs are old sayings that provide advice, warnings and morals and have been handed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. They tend to be short and memorable and can be grouped by key elements e.g. time, gossip, wealth etc. Some proverbs have literal meanings while others are metaphorical. Although proverbs can be found in all cultures, the Chinese are renowned for their wide selection.

Absence makes the heart grow fonder.
When the cat’s away, the mice will play.
If the dog is not at home, he barks not. [African proverb]
The absent are always in the wrong.
Out of sight, out of mind.
Present to the eye, present to the mind. [Chinese proverb]
Long absent, soon forgotten.
The absent get farther off every day. [Japanese proverb]

Variety is the spice of life.
Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t know.
One cannot put back the clock.
There is nothing permanent except change.
Preserve the old, but know the new. [Chinese proverb]
There is nothing new under the sun.

You cannot have it both ways.
You cannot have your cake and eat it. (you need to make a choice)
Of two evils choose the least.

The early bird catches the worm.
First come, first served.
Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealth and wise.
Sooner begun, sooner done.
A stitch in time saves nine. (if something is done now you avoid future trouble)

There’s no smoke without fire. (gossip generally has an element of truth in it)
An ill tongue may do much.
Go abroad and you’ll hear news of home.
Whispered words are heard afar. [Chinese proverb]
If the Nile knows your secret it will soon be known in the desert. [African proverb]
Walls have ears.

Every man is the architect of his own fortune.
As you make your bed, so you must lie on it.
It takes two to tango.
A bad workman always blames his tools.
The absent party is always to blame.
When one falls, it is not one’s foot that is to blame. [Chinese proverb]
Idle folk lack no excuses.

There is safety in numbers.
Better safe than sorry.
It’s best to be on the safe side.
Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. (don't invest all your efforts in just one thing)

The best things come in small packages.
Small is beautiful.
Every little helps.
Little and often fills the purse.
Of a small spark, a great fire.

Time cures all things.
Time is money.
Time tests all things.
Time will tell.
Time flies.
For the busy man time passes quickly. [Chinese proverb]
Time and tide wait for no man.
What greater crime than loss of time?
There is a time and place for everything.
History repeats itself.

Travel broadens the mind.
There’s no place like home.
Dry bread at home is better than roast meat abroad.
Home is where the heart is.
Better at home than a mile from it. [Chinese proverb]

He that has money has what he wants.
A rich man can do no wrong.
The rich knows not who is his friend.
Riches have wings. (wealth may be short-lived)
Riches take away more pleasures than they give. [Chinese proverb]
Money is the root of all evil.
Money makes the man.
The best things in life are free.
Money isn’t everything.
Health is better than wealth.
You can’t take it with you when you die.
Money makes money. (the best source of wealth is wealth itself)

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Spelling of important words (IELTS listening)

In the listening section of the IELTS test, if you spell a word incorrectly then it is wrong. Here is a list of common words that you should know how to spell in order to avoid losing valuable marks.

Days of the week: Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, weekdays, weekends

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

Money matters: cash, credit card, cheque, in advance, annual fee, monthly membership, interest rate, deposit, tuition fees, poverty, bank statement, money management, current account, student account, withdraw, low-risk investment

Subjects: science, politics, history, economics, biology, architecture, law, geography

Studying at college/university: course outline, group discussion, handouts, written work, report writing, research, rewrite, proof reading, experiment, experience, review, revise, reference, textbooks, dictionary, laptop, printer, student support, student advisor, a term, intensive, modules, topic, assessment, library, education department, computer centre, classroom, lecture theatre, a lecture, lecturer, tutor, main hall, attendance, deadline, give a talk, speech, computer laboratory, certificate, diploma, placement test, overseas students, full-time, facilities, college dining room, specialist knowledge, international, accommodation, home stay, primary, secondary, intermediate, media room, resources room, staff room

Marketing: catalogue, interview, newsletter, supervise, competition, TV programme, strategies, research method, entertainment industry, leadership, management, testing, display, products, customer, special offer, collecting data, questionnaire, survey, mass media, statistics

Health: yoga, keep-fit, salad bar, vegetarian, picnic, outdoor activities, tennis, cycling, leisure activities, disease, diet, meal, dance studio, squash courts, protein

Nature: field, footbridge, environment, waterfall, river, mountain, forest, village

In the city: cities, street, lane, city centre, central station, train, car park, mini bus, department stores, ground floor, hire a car, bridge, restaurant, café, temple, embassy, road system, hospital, nursery, garden, pollution

Workplace: dentist, engineer, business, office assistant, reception, waiting list, appointment, staff selection, colleagues, workshop, showroom, information desk, employer, efficient, employment, unemployed, technical cooperation, team leaders, stress, attitude, ability, vision, confidence, training

Rating: reasonable, satisfactory, dangerous, safe, strongly recommend, poor quality

Touring: castles, guided tour, ticket office, souvenirs, trips, guest, reservation, view, culture

Other: prize, weather, temperature, international, passport photo, local newspaper, state, government, individual, variety, section, expensive, practice, gender, creativity

Preposition differences (British/American English)

British EnglishAmerican English

At the weekend (s) – on the weekend (s)
At the front/back – in the front/back
A quarter past one – a quarter after one
A quarter to two – a quarter of two
At school – in school
Check something – check something out
Different from/to – different from/than
Do up a room etc. – do over a room etc.
Fill in a form – fill out a form
Friday to Sunday – Friday through Sunday
Get on (with somebody) – get along (with somebody)
Meet somebody – meet with somebody
Stay at home – stay home
To/in hospital – to/in the hospital
Visit somebody – visit with somebody

Thursday, 11 November 2010

British English (BE) and American English (AE) word list

British EnglishAmerican English
Aerial - antenna
Aeroplane - airplane
Anywhere - anyplace
Autumn - fall
Banknote - bill
Bank holidaynational holiday
Barrister, solicitorattorney
Bathroomtoilet, WC
Bill - check
Block of flatsapartment building
Bonnet of a car - hood
Boot of a car - trunk
Bumper of a car - fender
Biscuit - cookie
Car parkparking lot
Carrier bagshopping bag
Railway carriage - car
Chemist - drugstore
Cupboard - closet
Draughts - checkers
Dustbin, rubbish bingarbage can, trash can
Estate agentrealtor
Ground floorfirst floor
Holiday - vacation
Lorry - truck
Motorwayexpressway, freeway
Off-licenceliquor store
Pantsunderwear, shorts
Postal workermail carrier
Prambaby carriage
Queue - line
Return ticketround-trip ticket
Roundabouttraffic circle
Rubber - eraser
Single ticketone-way ticket
Tights - pantyhose
Torch - flashlight
Wardrobe - closet
Zebra crossing - crosswalk

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

Latin abbreviations used in English

Some Latin abbreviations are still used today for dates and times, academic qualifications and writing.

Dates and Times

A.C. (Ante Christum) = before Christ
A.D. (Anno Domini) = in the year of the Lord
a.m. (Ante Meridiem) = before midday
p.m. (Post Meridiem) = after midday

Academic Degrees

B.S./ B.Sc. (Baccalaureus Scientiae) = Bachelor of Science
LL.B. (Lequm Baccalaureus) = Bachelor of Laws
M.A. (Magister Artium) = Master of Arts (Fine Art, Humanities, Social Science, Theology)
M.D. (Medicinae Doctor) = Doctor of Medicine
Ph.D. (Philosophiæ Doctor) = Teacher of Philosophy

Academic writing

Et al. (et alii) = and others / and co-workers
Etc. (et cetera) = and other things
ibid. (ibidem) = in same place, for example in the same book
i.e. (id est) = in other words
op.cit. (opera citato) = as was mentioned previously in the same article or book
Viz. (videlicet) = that is to say

At the workplace

C.V. (curriculum vitae) = course of life. It is used to summarise job experience, skills and education when applying for employment.
N.B. (nota bene) = note well
e.g. (exampli gratia) = for example
p.a. (per annum) = yearly
per cent. (per centum) = percent, for each one hundred
p.p. (per procurationem) = through the agency of. If you are signing something on behalf of someone.
P.S. (post scriptum) = after what has been written. It is used to show that there are further additions after the signature.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Confusing words

Flammable and inflammable both refer to materials and substances that are easily set on fire. Non-flammable is the opposite of flammable.

Mortal (formal word) / Fatal mean causing death. Lethal refers to a substance that can cause death.

Habitable usually refers to buildings and means suitable for living in. Inhabitable also refers to a place or geographical area that can be lived in, whereas uninhabitable is housing or a place that cannot be lived in.

Emigrate refers to movement from a country on a permanent basis while immigrate refers to movement into a country. Migrate is the process whereby people or animals move between countries on a temporary basis.

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Countries and Nationalities

There are no rules on how nationality is formed from a country’s name. Some nationalities, for example, end in –ian, -an, -ese, -i

Afghanistan (Afghan), Albania (Albanian), Algeria (Algerian), Andorra (Andorran), Angola (Angolan), Argentina (Argentinean), Armenia (Armenian), Australia (Australian), Austria (Austrian), Azerbaijan (Azerbaijani), Bahamas (Bahamian), Bahrain (Bahraini), Bangladesh (Bangladeshi), Belarus (Belarusian), Belgium (Belgian), Belize (Belizean), Bolivia (Bolivian), Bosnia-Herzegovina (Bosnian), Brazil (Brazilian), Bulgaria (Bulgarian)

Cambodia (Cambodian), Cameroon (Cameroonian), Canada (Canadian), Chile (Chilean), China (Chinese), Colombia (Colombian), Congo (Congolese), Costa Rica (Costa Rican), Croatia (Croatian), Cuba (Cuban), Cyprus (Cypriot), Czech Republic (Czech)

Denmark (Danish), Dominican Republic (Dominican), Egypt (Egyptian), Eritrea (Eritrean), Estonia (Estonian), Ethiopia (Ethiopian)

France (French), The Gambia (Gambian), Georgia (Georgian), Germany (German), Ghana (Ghanaian), Greece (Greek), Guyana (Guyanese), Haiti (Haitian), Hungary (Hungarian)

Iceland (Icelandic), India (Indian), Indonesia (Indonesian), Iran (Iranian), Iraq (Iraqi), Republic of Ireland (Irish), Israel (Israeli), Italy (Italian), Ivory Coast (Ivorian)

Jamaica (Jamaican), Japan (Japanese), Jordan (Jordanian), Kazakhstan (Kazakh), Kenya (Kenyan), Kuwait (Kuwaiti), Kyrgyzstan (Kyrgyz), Latvia (Latvian), Liberia (Liberian), Libya (Libyan), Lithuania (Lithuanian)

Macedonia (Macedonian), Madagascar (Madagascan), Malawi (Malawian), Malaysia (Malaysian), Maldives (Maldivian), Malta (Maltese), Mexico (Mexican), Moldova (Moldovan), Mongolia (Mongolian), Morocco (Moroccan), Mozambique (Mozambican)

Namibia (Namibian), Nepal (Nepalese), The Netherlands (Dutch), New Zealand (New Zealander), Nicaragua (Nicaraguan), Nigeria (Nigerian), Norway (Norwegian)

Oman (Omani), Pakistan (Pakistani), Panama (Panamanian), Paraguay (Paraguayan), Peru (Peruvian), Philippines (Filipino), Poland (Polish), Portugal (Portuguese), Qatar (Qatari), Romania (Romanian), Russia (Russian), Rwanda (Rwandan)

Saudi Arabia (Saudi Arabian), Senegal (Senegalese), Serbia (Serbian), Singapore (Singaporean), Slovakia (Slovak), Slovenia (Slovenian), Somalia (Somali), South Africa (South African), Spain (Spanish), Sri Lanka (Sri Lankan), Sudan (Sudanese), Sweden (Swedish), Switzerland (Swiss), Syria ( Syrian)

Taiwan (Taiwanese), Tanzania (Tanzanian), Thailand (Thai), Tunisia (Tunisian), Turkey (Turkish), Uganda (Ugandan), Ukraine (Ukrainian), United Kingdom (British), United States of America (American), Uruguay (Uruguayan), Uzbekistan (Uzbek), Venezuela (Venezuelan), Vietnam (Vietnamese), Yemen (Yemeni), Zambia (Zambian), Zimbabwe (Zimbabwean)

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

False Friends

When we learn a new language, we have to be careful of false friends; words which look or sound almost the same as words in our native language. It’s best to look the words up in a dictionary as the English word rarely means the same as the false friend in another language. As the original meaning of a word changes over time or is borrowed from another language and is used differently from the beginning, this causes confusion.

The English word "actual" looks and sounds like words in many other languages but may have a different meaning: actuel (French), actual (Spanish), atual (Portuguese), attuale (Italian), aktuell (German), actueel (Dutch), aktuelan (Croatian).

Some Spanish false friends:
Carpeta (looks like the English word “carpet”) but in Spanish means a folder or briefcase.
Decepción (looks like “deception”) but means disappointment.
Desgracia (looks like “disgrace”) but means a mistake or misfortune.
Embarazada (looks like ‘’embarrassed”) but means pregnant.
En absoluto (looks like “absolutely”) but means not at all.
Éxito (looks like “exit) but means a hit or success.
Fábrica (looks like “fabric”) but means factory.
Largo (looks like “large”) but means long.
Once (looks like “once”) but means the number eleven.
Ropa (looks like “rope”) but means clothing.
Sensible (looks like “sensible”) but means sensitive.
Tuna (looks like “tuna”) but means an edible cactus.

Some German false friends:
(in English sounds like “alley”) but in German means avenue.
Die ambulanz (sounds like “ambulance”) but means outpatient department.
Das argument (sounds like “argument”) but means reasoned argument.
Die art (looks like “art”) but means type.
Das bad (looks like “bad”) but means bath.
Bang (looks like “bang”) but means frightened.
Bekommen (sounds like “to become”) but means “to receive”.
Die billion (looks like “billion”) but means trillion.
Die box (looks like “box”) but means stereo system speaker.
Der brand (looks like “brand”) but means fire.
Das etikett (sounds like “etiquette”) but means label.
Das formular (looks like “formula”) but means “to fill out a form”.
Familiär (looks like “familiar”) but means family-related.

Chitwan National Park (Nepal)

Move, transfer, relocate, resettle

Move = focuses on the movement of objects or people.
e.g. He moved his car as it was blocking the entrance.
They moved into a new house.

Transfer=move a person, money, phone call to another location or group.
e.g. She was transferred to the Sales Department, so the receptionist transferred the call there.
We transferred our money into a current account.

Relocate=used in business when talking about moving to a new place.
e.g. The bank has relocated to Singapore.

Resettle=used to talk about people or population groups when they find a new place to live.
e.g. Many Chinese from rural areas resettle in big cities.