Phrase of the day: I think not

One of the courses we ran this July as part of our very first Lexical Lab summer school was ADVANCED LANGUAGE AND CULTURE, which lasted two weeks and which explored everything from the class system to education to Brexit to women’s issues to race and immigration. It was a wonderful course to design and write – and even more wonderful to teach, given the diversity of teachers we had studying with us. Participants came from Estonia, Brazil, Poland, Sweden, and Spain, and we learned as much from all of them as we hope they did from us.

One day, we watched a short clip from a wonderful British sitcom called Outnumbered. It’s basically about a middle-class couple in London bringing up three kids (who outnumber them!). The clip is from an episode called Keeping up with the Joneses, a phrase which is central to a full understanding of English culture! If you accuse someone of only doing something – like buying a new car or sending their kids to a private school – because they feel have to, in order to continue looking as succesful and wealthy as they believe their neighbours look, then they’re just doing it to keep up with the Joneses.

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Anyway, there’s a lovely moment in this short clip – which you can watch here - where one mum is struggling to control her boisterous boys and her more upper-middle-class neighbour, whose children are all neat, well-behaved and disturbingly quiet, says kindly “Mine are just the same”. The response (said under her breath) is “I think not!”

As we were discussing the subtleties of the clip afterwards, one teacher asked what the difference was between I think not and I don’t think so, and I realised I’d never actually looked at the two phrases together. I don’t think so is most commonly used to respond to questions about the future, as in these short exchanges:

Is Nikita coming today?

> I don’t think so. He texted me earlier to say he was ill.

 

Do you reckon it’ll rain this afternoon?

> I don’t think so. It looks alright out there now.

I think not, though, far more frequently expresses a negative atitude towards whatever it is you’re disagreeing with – as in the clip above. Here’s one more example:

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In early August, I took my family camping. After five weeks of summer school, I needed a bit of a break. However, a break was not what we got! Instead, what we got was torrential rain – despite the previous reassurances of the weather forecast. As we sat huddled together in our tent with the rain beating down on us and the winds howling all around, my wife grabbed her phone and shoved a page under my nose. “Look!” she said, “Steyning. 21 degrees and sunny”. I peeped outside and retreated very quickly afterwards. “I THINK NOT!” I snarled to no-one in particular!

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  • Have you ever looked at the weather forecast and thought I think not!? When? Why?
  • Can you remember the last thing someone said to you that you wanted to say I think not! in response to?
  • Do you like going camping? Why? / Why not?
  • Do you know anyone who’s done something just to keep up with the Joneses?
  • What’s your favourite sitcom? Why?

Word of the day: off grid

Like many people, I find it difficult to turn off and may even suffer from a mild version of what has been called nomophobia – the fear of being without a mobile device or out of mobile contact. What with smartphones and 24/7 Internet connectivity, I’ve got so used to being connected all the time that it can be really hard to switch off and focus on the here and now. That’s why I increasingly try to take holidays in relatively remote places where there’s no signal, no wi-fi . . . and no danger of spending half my time away sending emails or updating my social media status! In other words, I like to go off grid.

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Just as people have recognised that detox diets, where you cut down on processed foods, caffeine and alcohol, can give the body a bit of a break and give you time to think about when and what you eat, so too are we starting to realise that we need digitial detoxes from time to time.

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Time spent off grid means no Internet, no Facebook, no Instagram, no Skype, no emails, no nothing digitial at all. Instead, it means making time for the people closest to you, relaxed conversations in quiet surroundings, reading books as opposed to websites, being out in the natural world more, and just generally taking it easy!

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Being away from our screens can not only help us recharge our batteries; it may also help us reset our sleep patterns – or just sleep better; and studies have shown it can also reduce stress, boost creativity and increase your attention span.

Of course, the desire to get off grid and have some down time has already been noticed by enterprising businesspeople and some companies now specialise in offering bespoke off-grid holiday packages – at a price, of course. Such holidays also often seem to involve yoga, vegetarian or vegan food and incredibly early starts to the day!

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Personally, I was lucky enough to manage a few days last week totally off grid – in a little village halfway up a mountain in Bali. It was sheer bliss. You should’ve seen the email backlog I returned to, though! In fact, I’m still trying to catch up and the stress of it all is driving me mad . . .

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  • How much time do you spend off grid? How? / Where?
  • Would you like to spend more time away from technology? Why? / Why  not?
  • Do you ever experience something similar to nomophobia?
  • Do you ever try to cut down on things (e.g. caffeine, alcolohol, processed foods, how much you use the web, etc)?
  • How’s your email backlog at the moment? How do you usually deal with it?
  • What other ways of recharging your batteries do you sometimes try?

Word of the day: atrocity

Like many of you, I suppose, I woke yesterday morning to the appalling news coming out of Manchester. American pop singer Ariana Grande, who’s very popular with teenagers and young people here, had been performing at the Manchester Arena. The concert ended shortly before half past ten at night and as fans started streaming out into the night, a suicide bomber with an improvised explosive device walked into the foyer and detonated the bomb, blowing himself up and killing at least twenty other people in the process, including several children. Given that tweets by pro-Da’esh / ISIS groups celebrating the attack started circulating very soon afterwards, it’s safe to assume that the attacker may well have been acting in the name of the so-called Islamic State.

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Of course, this is not the first time that Manchester has been subjected to terrorist attacks. In 1978, the IRA – the Irish Republican Army, an illegal organization that wants Northern Ireland to be politically independent of the UK and united with the Republic of Ireland, and that has in the past fought for this aim using violent methods – detonated a bomb in the city, although no-one was injured. Then again in 1992 they detonated two bombs, injuring 65 people. Finally, in 1996, a huge bomb was detonated near a large shopping centre, injuring over 200 people. So such actions are nothing new.

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However, the IRA sent telephone warnings about 90 minutes before the bomb went off, which allowed at least 75,000 people to be evacuated from the area. Their main target was the city’s infrastructure and economy and the bomb caused almost a billion pound’s worth of damage. This latest attack very deliberately targeted civilians, and not just any old civilians, but innocent children! It was an attack less on our infrastructure than on our minds, and our society. It’s an attack designed to spread fear, and to create divisions in society. The fact that it comes in the middle of a very tense general election campaign is also surely significant. As we saw in France, terrorists use violence to try to influence voting patterns and, historically speaking, at least,  it’s been the hard right – the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam groups – who benefit from such attacks.

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Given that we all so often hear of terrible violence being committed in so many different places around the world, for so many different reasons, it’s easy to become numb and turn off and lose all feeling. We can all too easily become immune to shock and horror. And as the violence continues, it no longer feels sufficient to call things like what happened in Manchester on Monday night (or in Sinjar in 2014 or in Karrada last year or in Beslan in 2004) an attack. An attack could also be used to describe what happens if someone is kicked and punched outside a pub, for instance. It doesn’t necessarily imply death on a large scale! Instead, we now talk more and more about atrocities and outrages. Politicians and social commentators discuss this fresh outrage, what can be done to prevent further atrocities from being committed, and push people who had nothing to do with whatever mass murder is most recent to condemn the latest atrocity.

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Meanwhile, the rest of us down here on planet earth try to get on with our daily lives, to get on with the people we meet every day and to not fall victim to fear, hate or suspicion of others.

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  • Have there been any atrocities committed in your country over recent years?
  • Had you heard anything about the IRA or about the previous Manchester bombings before?
  • Can you think of any other times you woke to shocking news?
  • Have you ever been evacuated from a building or an area? When? What happened?
  • Do you think terrorist attacks are successful in spreading fear and creating division?

Phrase of the day: rule of thumb

My mother turned 70 last month and to celebrate we took her to Majorca for a week-long break. We rented a villa in Puerto Pollensa up on the north coast. It was just about large enough for my mum and her partner, John; my brother, his wife and their adopted kid, Jamie; John’s daughter from his previous marriage, Ailsa; and my own family. It was hot, we were near the beach, and it was only a short walk into town. What more could you ask for? Like lots of people of her generation, my mum isn’t the most adventurous eater, and tends to be slightly suspicious of food she’s not familiar with. Given this, most evenings, we took turns to cook and ate together in the villa. On the actual day of her birthday, though, we decided to eat out in a little place we’d read about on TripAdvisor. After a leisurely stroll along the beach, we went down a lovely little side street and found the place we were looking for. We were early and had the place more or less to ourselves, which was nice. As soon as we’d sat down, John was keen to order a drink. He caught the waiter’s eye and asked what the best way to do things was: should he go to the bar and order and pay there, or could drinks be ordered and brought to the table now? “Well”, the Spanish waiter began, “the basic rule of thumb is order from me, and I’ll bring everything straight to your table and you can settle up at the end!”

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After the waiter had taken the drinks order and vanished off to the bar, my mum commented on how excellent his English was and not for the first time, I was struck by the fact that it’s very rarely grammatical accuracy that impresses people. Instead, it’s the ability to use phrases such as the basic rule of thumb (and, in this instance, settle up as well, I guess)! A rule of thumb is a broadly accurate guide or principle that you use when doing (or explaining) things, and it’s based on practice rather than theory. So, for example, the reason my mum’s partner John felt the need to ask in the first place is that the basic rule of thumb in English pubs is that you go to the bar, order and pay for each round. As a result, the idea of being able to order drinks throughout the evening without (yet) paying for them is a bit alien!

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Many people may apply basic rules of thumb to the way they approach many everyday activities. For instance, my writing partner Andrew has a basic rule of thumb when he’s drinking: for every pint of beer he drinks, he then tries to drink a pint of water. Very sensible! Anyone who does any kind of practical task like DIY, cooking, fixing or mending things, and so on, will have all kinds of rules of thumb that they use when carrying out their tasks. To give one final example, a tip we often pass on to teachers we work with is that when you’ve asked the whole class a question, a good rule of thumb is to wait a good ten seconds or so before moving on. All too often, we ask questions, don’t get an immediate response and then rush on, worrying about why our students don’t speak much! Waiting slightly longer gives the quieter, shyer students time to put themselves forward, and allows students the chance to gather their thoughts before speaking. If you’re a teacher yourself, try it and see what a difference it makes!

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  • Do you have any basic rules of thumb that you apply when cooking, ordering in bars or restaurants, doing DIY or any other areas of your life?
  • Do you know anyone who’s an adventurous eater? Or anyone who’s suspicious of food they’re not familiar with?
  • When was the last time you went for a leisurely stroll? Where did you go?
  • Can you think of ways of doing things you’ve encountered when abroad that were a bit alien to you?

Phrase of the day: go pear-shaped

Last night I was at our local pub quiz. For anyone who hasn’t experienced this, basically it’s an excuse for people to get together and drink, but at the same time it allows ourselves to feel that we are not drunks or layabouts because we are actually proving our great intelligence and knowledge. Never mind that the questions are largely about trivia such as naming Beyoncé‘s last number one single or how many tennis balls would fit in the Millenium Dome if it was turned upside down!

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We might also ignore the fact that the winner often only wins bar vouchers, which allow them to buy – and drink – more beer! No, pub quizzes are deadly serious, they are intellectual, and they are an opportunity to show off, when the British usually hate such things.

So anyway, there we were at the pub quiz, and basically we were doing very well indeed. We’d been through a couple of rounds where we were convinced we had got all the questions – or almost all of them – right and we had reached a round called food and drink. We were very confident – we all cook, we were all drinking, we all watch MasterChef. What could possibly go wrong? So we played our joker. Playing the joker meant we would get double points for every correct answer.

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First question: rigatoni and farfalle are both types of what? Ha! No problem … pasta! What are the ingredients of a Harvey Wallbanger? Tricky, but as I say, we all drink and one of us makes cocktails. Confident. What did Henry II  have too much of when he died? Hmmm! Tricky. Not a clue. Next question. What dish is named after a famous victory by Napoleon. What? Next. What’s the national dish of Gibraltar? Oh, for God’s sake!

A teammate turned to me and said ‘Oh dear! It’s all gone a bit pear-shaped.

And indeed it had – we came third last in the end!

Basically, if a plan or a strategy or a game goes a bit pear-shaped, then it goes wrong – usually very wrong!. You blow your chances, you choke, you lose your way (often after a fairly successful start!)

So what else has gone pear-shaped of late? Oh yes, Arsenal’s season has gone a bit pear-shaped. There they were, riding high in the table, fifteen matches unbeaten and they’d qualified first in their Champions League group. The players gave interviews about how the hard work was paying off and how the spirit in the team was unbelievable. Two months later and they were thrashed by Bayern Munich – twice, they’d dropped to sixth in the league and were blaming each other as their hopes of a league title had been dashed …. again!

Oh dear.

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  • Can you think of a time when something went pear-shaped for you?
  • What other examples of things going pear-shaped in sport and politics can you think of?
  • Are pub quizzes popular in your country? Why? / Why not?
  • Have you ever been to one? How did you do?
  • Can you think of any other examples of a sports team getting thrashed?

Word of the day: ransom

Over the last few days, the news here in the UK has been dominated by the hackers currently holding the country to ransom! It all began last Friday afternoon, when computers in several hospitals around the country suddenly stopped working normally and instead started showing a pop-up message which demanded a $300 (£233) ransom per machine to be paid to a Bitcoin wallet address. Bitcoin, in case you’ve not heard of it, is a virtual currency created to allow online transactions to be made without any middle men and without the need to give your real name, making it very popular with criminals using the dark web. The message not only demanded money, but made it clear that all the files on affected computers had been encrypted – changed into code – and could no longer be accessed. It was now impossible to recover  lost files and there was a warning that unless payment was made within three days, the price would double – and if it wasn’t paid within a week, all files would be permanently deleted.

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Obviously, the attack has caused chaos across the whole of the NHS (the National Health Service), as patients were turned away, emergency operations were transferred to hospitals not affected by the hacking and fears grew that private information in the files was now in the hands of criminals. To top it allit now seems that one reason why the NHS was so vulnerable to an attack like this is that recent government cuts had meant that security updates were not purchased!

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As the weekend went on, it became clear that this was not only an attack on the NHS. Thousands and thousands of businesses around the world have been similarly hit. Put simply, this is the biggest act of cyber crime we’ve ever witnessed, and a sobering reminder of quite how dependent on the Internet our modern world has become.

The special kind of software that was used in this attack is called ransomware. It’s usually sent via an email that unsuspecting victims open, thus allowing the malware into their computers, where it quickly encrypts files and then demands a ransom. The ransom is the amount of money that needs to be paid before criminals release whatever it is they have taken. The word used to be mainly associated with kidnapping cases, where a gang would kidnap the children of wealthy people – they’d illegally take them away somewhere and hold them prisoner, in order to make their family (or government, in some cases) pay them money. Sometimes a ransom note would be sent – maybe even containing a video of the kidnapped person pleading for their lifeIn some instances, pet dogs have even been kidnapped and held for ransom! As criminals have got smarter and more and more crime has moved online, nowadays it’s more commonly websites that are hacked and held for ransom.

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When footballers demand huge wage increases if they are to stay at a club, the manager may well complain to the media that the club wont be held to ransom – and may remind the greedy star that no player’s bigger than the club. It all seems to be part and parcel of the way new contracts are negotiated these days!

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Just in case any of you out there are thinking that demanding ransoms sounds like money for old rope, it’s worth bearing in mind the fact that so far the hackers behind the recent attacks have only been paid around £20,000 – but now have security forces from countless countries looking for them! Sometimes crime really doesn’t pay!

Want to learn more with Lexical Lab? Take our ENGLISH BOOST course this summer.

  • Has the recent wave of cyber attacks hit your country? How?
  • Have you heard any other stories about websites or people or animals being held for ransom?
  • What other kinds of cyber crime have you heard about?
  • How much effort do you put into protecting your own online data and your computer?
  • Can you think of any jobs that you think are money for old rope?

Word of the day: landslide

As you’ve probably noticed, France has elected a new president. From a British point of view, the French system is quite peculiar in that not only do the people directly elect the President, but there are also are two rounds of voting – unless one candidate wins an outright majority (more than 50%) in the first round, which, while theoretically possible, has never actually happened. What happens is that all the different candidates, who usually come from right across the political spectrum, face off in the first round and then the two candidates who get the highest number of votes face each other in the second round, which is held two weeks later. After the first round, the two remaining candidates generally hold a couple of final rallies – and there are tough restrictions on what the French media can and can’t mention in the run-up to the final vote. So, for example, media outlets there were not allowed to mention anything about the content of the hacked emails which were stolen last Friday from mailboxes linked to Emmanuel Macron, and dumped online, along with what are said to be numerous fake emails.

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The final round pitted Macron, a former civil servant and investment banker who only founded his centrist political movement En Marche! last year, against Marine Le Pen, leader of the far-right Front National party. Many had been predicting a tight contest, with lots of disillusioned voters choosing not to vote for either candidate, but in the end, Macron won by a big majority. He got around 65% of the vote, while Le Pen only got 35%. In other words, he won by a landslide.

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People can win an election by a landslide, and political parties can win a landslide victory. Usually, when there’s such a decisive victory, it gives the winners a clear mandate: it gives them the authority to do the things that they promised to do before the election. It strengthens their hand – it gives them more power, so they can push through new reforms or legislation.

Interestingly, the literal meaning of a landslide is a heavy fall of earth and rocks down the side of a mountain. Landslides can prove fatal. It is, though, a brave person who predicts that this election defeat will prove to be fatal to Marine Le Pen’s political ambitions!

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  • How are leaders chosen in your country? Are there any similarities with the French system?
  • Can you think of any other politicians or political parties who’ve won a landslide victory?
  • Why do you think many voters these days feel so disillusioned?
  • Can you think of any scandals that have proved fatal to someone’s political ambitions?
  • Are there any restrictions on what the media can and can’t report in your country?

Word of the day: professional

When I was in Norilsk, in the far north of Russia earlier this year, I was lucky enough to have a free day at the end of the teacher development course I’d been running there. We decided we were going to head off to Dudinka, a town on the mighty Yenisei river that serves as the main shipping port for the local metal factories. It was about a ninety-minute drive each way, and the weather was relatively mild for the time of year – only around zero. Once we left the city, we were basically out in the tundra – the flat, empty land where hardly anything grows, and which covers much of Siberia. There were no barriers on the sides of the road, so as the snow swept in from the tundra and across the road, visibility was massively reduced. It became hard to see more than a few metres in front and almost impossible to see where the road ended and the tundra began. I nervously asked if it was still safe to drive in such conditions and this led to the following conversation:

Don’t worry. Sasha is an excellent driver and he knows the roads very well. Can I say he’s high-end?

> Not really. I guess high-end is usually used to describe the kind of businesses that provide goods or services for really wealthy people, you know, people who want top-quality goods and don’t care how much they cost, so you get high-end stereo equipment and high-end department stores, all targeting high-end consumers. I’m glad we’ve got a good driver, though. WE need one in these conditions.

So how can I best describe him? If he’s really excellent and skillful?

> He’s a professional.

But this is not his job. He’s just doing this as a favour, because he knows the roads so well.

> It doesn’t matter. I’d still say he’s a professional!

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If someone does something difficult in an excellent way, we often say they’re a professional, so if you offer me a coffee and then proceed to grind the beans, get the expensive (high-end!) coffee machine going and finally present me with the perfect double espresso, I might say “Wow! And there was me expecting a Nescafé! You’re a real professional, I see!” Professional is often shortened to pro, so for instance, I was round at a friend’s house the other day, watching him change his daughter’s nappy after she’d peed right through it. I commented on the fact that I really didn’t miss this side of parenting, to which he laughed and said “Hey. I’m used to it. I’m a hardened pro by now. Can do it in my sleep!

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In the same way, we also use amateur/ˈæmətə(r)/ – in a jokey way to describe people who don’t do things very well. Imagine you go to get your hair cut somewhere and are shocked by what a terrible job they make of it, you may well tell friends “That’s the last time I ever go there. They’re a total bunch of amateurs!” We might describe ourselves as total amateurs if we’re not very good at something, and not very knowledgeable about it, but still enjoy it anyway, so if challenged to a game of table tennis, I may well reply “Yeah, go on. Why not? I’m a total amateur, but what the hell!

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If someone doing an important job is truly terrible at it and seems frequently confused and unsure of what they’re doing, they may well be called a bumbling amateur. Depressingly for us, it’s a description often levelled against our current Foreign Secretary, the man leading us into the crucial Brexit negotiations, Boris Johnson. What could possibly go wrong?9893663995_4679374bfd_b

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  •  When was the last time you dealt with someone you’d describe as a real pro?
  • And have you ever had bed experiences with people you thought were a total bunch of amateurs?
  • Have you ever had to drive when you couldn’t see more than a few metres in front of you?
  • Do you know anyone who buys high-end goods or services?
  • Have you ever had anyone make a terrible job of cutting your hair?

Phrase of the day: a big If

We use the phrase that’s / it’s a big if to show that we realise that what we are about to say – or what someone has just been speculating about – is really very unlikely indeed to actually happen. It’s a sign that we’re clutching at straws, which means we’re still clinging on to slender hopes, looking for some small thing that might allow us to escape a difficult situation. Imagine you see a man drowning and you need to find a strong stick for him to hold on to so you can pull him out, but all you have is a bit of dried grass (straw). It’s basically that! You tell yourself that it might work! Maybe ….. but actually probably not! Oh, let’s just face it, shall we? There’s not a hope in hell it’ll work, is there!

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It seems that we’re living through times when clutching at straws and big ifs are pretty much all we have left – in my household at least. My son is an Arsenal supporter like Hugh is, and watched his team suffer another loss at the weekend – and this wasn’t just any old loss, but was a defeat at the hands of their deadliest rivals, Tottenham Hotspur. Their hopes of a Champions League place are fading, but as I said to him, if they win all their last games, they could still qualify in fourth place. He looked sceptical and said that’s a big if!  

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As a supporter of the Labour Party in the forthcoming election, I receive quite a few emails, one of which was encouraging young people to register to vote. Apparently, Labour has a fifteen-point lead over the Conservatives among 18-to-25-year-olds, so if they all register and they come out to vote, and that’s a huge if, Labour could still win. Or maybe if the polls are wrong and people begin to see that Prime Minister Theresa May isn’t really the strong leader that she claims to be … hey, I’m clutching at straws here, I know.

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There are two linguistic things to mention here about a big if. Firstly, I think a big if is probably (though I haven’t done any research on this) more often used with first conditionals, even though we generally associate second conditionals (if young people were to registerLabour would win) with things that we see as impossible. I guess this is because when you clutch at straws, you still have hope it’s not impossible! The second point is the way if is turned into a noun here. English is very flexible in the way words can change word class (verb to noun to adjective, etc.). If is also used as a noun in the phrase no ifs or buts, a phrase which is also useful for an election as it’s often used by journalists who are trying to get a straight answer from politicians – ‘No ifs or buts, are you going to put up taxes or not?’

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  • How would you translate a big if and clutching at straws into your language?
  • What big ifs are there in your life at the moment?
  • What have you been forced to accept there’s not a hope in hell of?
  • Do many young people vote where you live? What do you think stops them? What could be done to encourage them to vote more?

Phrase of the day: Time is of the essence

Over recent weeks, we’ve been taking a fair few bookings for what will be our first ever London summer school. It’s all very exciting, even if it does involve far more red tape than we’d initially anticipated. In order to be able to invite non-EU students here in a way that allows them to apply for short-term visas, we’ve had to go through an official accreditation process, which meant preparing an insane amount of paperwork. We’ve had to decide what the best way of receiving payments from a wide range of international customers is; we’ve had to find and book a venue for the courses; we’ve had to make contact with a bunch of different accommodation providers; and, of course, we’ve had to get all the courses written! All in all, I think it’s fair to say that we’re earning our money! Another thing we’ve had to do is email round to people who’ve already expressed an interest in certain courses, but haven’t yet booked their places to warn them that there are only a very few places left, so time is of the essence. In other words, they should book now to avoid disappointment.

The London skyline from Alexandra Palace.

If you tell someone that time is of the essence, it’s usually because you want to emphasize that something needs to be done as soon as it can be and so they need to hurry up if they don’t want to miss out. It’s a phrase that’s been used quite a lot in the media here of late because of the snap election that’s been called for June the 8th. Because there’s so little time before election day, that opposition parties really need to get their act together and start getting a clear, coherent message out to as many people as possible, if they’re to stand any chance at all of winning.

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Time is also often of the essence in other lines of work, of course. Take police work, for example. As was recently shown in a remarkable BBC Radio 4 series about how police in the north-east of England dealt with a missing child report, in many investigations there’s no time to lose. The situation requires prompt action and every second counts. Incredibly important decisions need to be made in the heat of the moment and it’s crucial that cool heads prevail. All the experts agree that the first 48 hours after a child goes missing are critical and that within that time frame, there’s a lot families can do to facilitate the search.

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Mercifully, we’re not in any kind of life-or-death situation. Having said that, though, if you do still want to come and study with us . . . . !

Read more about our summer school courses here.

  • Can you think of a time when time was really of the essence? What happened?
  • Do you have to deal with much red tape in your job?
  • Have you ever had to apply for a visa? How was it? What did the process involve?
  • Have you ever missed out on something you wanted to do because you left it too late?
  • Are you usually good at keeping a cool head in the heat of the moment?