You look a million dollars! (Describing appearances)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Choose what makes you happyby Kate Woodford

Describing other people’s appearances is something most of us do now and then. We might do it in order to ask who someone is: ‘Who was the very smart guy in the blue suit?’ Sometimes we describe how other people look simply because we find it interesting: ‘Sophie always looks so elegant – not a hair out of place!’ If you’d like to expand your vocabulary for describing how people look, read on!

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Painstaking work and uphill battles (Words and phrases relating to effort)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

John Lund/Blend Images/Getty

by Kate Woodford

We recently shared a post on words meaning ‘difficult’. This week we look at a related area of the language – words and phrases that we use to describe tasks and activities that require a lot of effort.

Let’s start with expressions that we use for activities that require mainly physical effort. A strenuous activity requires the body to work hard: He was advised not to do strenuous exercise for a few days.

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Making an effort and telling a joke: avoiding common errors with collocations

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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by Liz Walter

Collocation, or the way we put words together, is a very important part of English. In this post, I am going to look at some of the most common mistakes learners make with verb + noun collocations. If you make these errors, people will still understand you, but your English will not sound natural and you will lose marks in exams.

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Don’t sweat the small stuff: words and phrases connected with keeping calm

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

S_Bachstroem/ iStock / Getty Images Plus

by Liz Walter

I’ve written quite a bit recently about arguing and fighting, so I thought it would be nice to turn to something more pleasant: staying calm and relaxed. This can be difficult in the modern world, where many people report feeling stress or pressure (the anxious feeling you have when you have too much to do or difficult things to do): I couldn’t stand the stress of that job. We were under pressure to work harder. The related adjectives are stressful and pressurized: The situation was very stressful. She works in a pressurized environment.

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Keep me in the loop. (Words and phrases related to knowledge)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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by Kate Woodford

This week, we’re looking at words and phrases that we use to describe knowing a subject.

Starting with a very useful adjective, someone who is knowledgeable knows a lot, either about one particular subject or subjects more generally: Annie is very knowledgeable about wildlife. A slightly informal expression to describe someone with a detailed knowledge of one particular subject is the phrase clued up: Young people tend to be more clued up on environmental issues.

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Staying the course (Everyday idioms in newspapers)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

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by Kate Woodford

Every few months, we read a selection of national newspapers published on the same day and highlight common idioms and phrases in their articles and reports. We read all sections of the papers – news, sports pages and gossip columns – and, as ever on this blog, we pick out the most useful, up-to-date idioms.

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Deck the halls! (Decorating words and phrases)

About Words - Cambridge Dictionaries Online blog

Tom Merton/Hoxton/Getty Images

by Kate Woodford

The Christmas season is once again here and around the world, people who celebrate this festival are making their homes look festive and (informal) Christmassy by putting updecorations. In the past, Christmas decorations were usually quite simple – a Christmas tree hung with a few familiar ornaments that would come out year after year from a dusty box in the attic. Paper chains might be hung along the wall and an empty stocking or two for Santa placed hopefully by the fireplace. Christmas cards would be displayed on shelves and windowsills. Nowadays, for many of us, there are more decorative options.

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