Phrase of the day: raining cats and dogs

We're joking, of course. This is really NOT our chunk of the day. Only students of English and people who haven't lived in the UK since about 1950 actually use this idiom – and it probably wasn't even used that…

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Phrase of the day: bon appetit

You probably don't need me to tell you that food culture here in England is (and yes, I am using the classic English art of understatement here!) slightly different to much of the rest of the world. We seem to…

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Phrase of the day: on the cheap

Some of you may have heard on the news this week that dozens of people were injured when a floor overlooking the main lobby of the Indonesian Stock Exchange building collapsed. You may even have seen the shocking video of…

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Phrase of the day: Christmas cheer

Despite my mutterings of Bah humbug! in the last post, I do actually like a bit of Christmas cheer. Over the last couple of weeks, I’ve been out quite a bit catching up with friends who I haven’t seen for…

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Phrase of the day: Bah humbug!

The phrase Bah, humbug! comes from the Charles Dickens’ story A Christmas Carol and is said by the main character Scrooge, who doesn’t like anything about Christmas. People can be called a scrooge when they don’t like spending money. You…

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Phrase of the day: cut your teeth

I usually try and avoid central London at this time of year. Streets like Tottenham Court Road are jam-packed at the best of times, but in the run-up to Christmas, they start to resemble the ninth circle of hell! Desperate…

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Phrase of the day: all the trimmings

If there's one thing I've learned over twenty years of teaching foreign students here in the UK it's that English food is misunderstood and much-maligned. The usual comments I've heard revolve around the idea that there's no such thing as…

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Phrase of the day: smash it

Every now and then, a phrase comes along that makes you feel really old. I'm not talking about things like the use of the adjective bare, which you hear teenagers and young adults using all the time on the streets…

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Phrase of the day: slap bang in the middle

Onomatopoeia is a strange thing. Officially, it's the use of words that supposedly sound like the sounds they refer to. If we only speak one language, we hardly ever even notice such words as buzz or thud, and if we…

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Phrase of the day: either or

As many of you will know, prepositional use in English is a particularly problematic area for learners. Imagine your frustration if you learn the supposedly 'basic' meaning of in via a picture that shows, say, a large block dot inside…

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