Phrase of the day: in the run-up to

As many of you may be aware, there’s a general election here in the UK in just a couple of months. This year also sees crucial elections in Turkey and Spain and no doubt in many other places as well. As the media gears up for the big day, the news becomes more and more focused on the main parties, what their policies are, what the opinion polls are saying and what will happen in the run-up to the election.

The run-up to a big event is the period of time before it – and for many of us, it can be a trying time, a time during which we reach breaking point and start moaning about the sheer stress or boredom of it all. It’s not uncommon to hear complaints along the lines of:

We’re going to have to listen to loads more of this kind of rubbish in the run-up to the election.

There’s just too much to do in the run-up to Christmas.

We’re going to be rushed off our feet in the run-up the launch.


If there’s an election coming sometime soon, you could ask students what they expect to happen in the run-up to it – and (maybe) what they think would tip votes one way or another. You could provide sentence frames like the ones below, and then encourage students to complete them with locally relevant parties / politicians, before sharing and explaining their ideas.

I’m not expecting the Tories to rally clarify their plans for the NHS in the run-up to the election.

You’d expect Labour to try to put some clear blue water between them and the Tories in the run-up to the election.

I’m hoping UKIP will just totally self-destruct in the run-up to the election.

If you’d prefer something with less potential for heated debate, you could simply explain the meaning of the phrase and then ask students in pairs to list three things that need to be done in the run-up to . . . retirement / a big meeting / Christmas – or another big local celebration / a big job interview.

After rounding up ideas, students could then discuss what the most important things to do in each situation are.

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