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  • Language tip of the week: conversation

    Posted by on October 23, 2014

    Learn English with Macmillan DictionaryIn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this new series of  language tips we will be looking at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s  tip looks at metaphors used to talk about conversation:

    A conversation or discussion is like a journey,  with the speakers going from one place to another:

    Let’s go back to what you were saying earlier.
    Can we return to the previous point?
    I can’t quite see where you’re heading.
    The conversation took an unexpected turn/direction.
    I’m listening – Go on!
    We’ve covered a lot of ground.
    I was just coming on to that.
    We eventually arrived at a conclusion.
    It’s a roundabout way of saying she’s refusing our offer.
    You’re on the right/wrong track.
    We wandered off the topic.
    The conversation drifted rather aimlessly.
    We kept going round and round in circles.

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  • Real Grammar Quiz, Question 2: Would or Should?

    Real Grammar isn’t about the made-up or outdated “rules” which some people try to make us follow. As we said in the introduction to this new series from Macmillan Dictionary, Real Grammar is based on the evidence of language in use. In the coming months, we’ll be bringing you blog posts and videos that give […]

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  • Life skills tip of the week: emphasis

    As part of this year’s pragmatics series, we bring more useful content and tips from the Macmillan Dictionary on expressing yourself. The previous language tip looked at ways of persuading someone to do something. This week’s tip looks at just a few of the very many ways of adding emphasis to what you say and […]

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  • Word roots and routes: pair

    Next in a series of posts exploring some of the ‘roots’ and ‘routes’ of English vocabulary. Pair (noun and verb) has made its way to us from Latin pār, meaning ‘equal’. As well as describing a set of two identical or near-identical items – e.g. a pair of shoes, a pair of eyes – it […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 17th October, 2014

    This post contains a selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular. Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link […]

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  • Language tip of the week: public school

    In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. These tips are usually based on areas of English which learners find difficult, e.g. spelling, grammar, collocation, synonyms, usage, etc. This week’s language tip helps with the differences in usage in American and British English of the term […]

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  • Life skills tip of the week: ways of warning someone

    Learning about pragmatics and how to express yourself successfully is a useful life skill, said Michael Rundell in January when he introduced the new pragmatics series on Macmillan Dictionary. The series is part of the Macmillan Life Skills campaign, offering free resources for English language students and teachers each month. As part of the series, we’ll bring more useful content and […]

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  • Enthusing about freedom of usage

    Writing about back-formation earlier this year, I said that enthuse – a verb back-formed from enthusiasm – occupied a grey area of acceptability. This area is worth mapping in more detail, since much of what people say about enthuse applies to other words and usages, and offers insights into what Macmillan Dictionary calls real grammar. […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 10th October, 2014

    This post contains a selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular. Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link […]

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  • Language tip of the week: communicate

    In this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this new series of  language tips we will be looking at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s  tip looks at the area of communication: When people communicate, it is as […]

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  • Life skills tip of the week: persuasion

    As part of this year’s pragmatics series, we bring more useful content and tips from the Macmillan Dictionary on expressing yourself. The previous language tip looked at ways of using understatement. This week’s tip gives some ways of persuading someone to do something. It might be a good idea if/It might be better if: a […]

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  • On the subject of whodunnit

    A typical English sentence consists, as a minimum, of a subject followed by a verb: They left. If there’s an object, it comes after the verb: They left town. Other elements can be added in various positions: They left town. They all left town. They all left town yesterday. Apparently they all left town yesterday. […]

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  • Language and words in the news – 3rd October, 2014

    This post contains a selection of links related to language and words in the news. These can be items from the latest news, blog posts or interesting websites related to global English, language change, education in general, and language learning and teaching in particular. Feel free to contact us if you would like to submit a link […]

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Recent Comments

Recent Comments
  • Posted by Liz to Life skills tip of the week: ways of saying 'I don't know' on October 21, 2014 Hi Ahmad. You're right about the meaning of these phrases. I actually used them as an example of a way of saying you are unsure, in the life skills post on that topic: http://www.macmillandictionaryblog.com/life-skills-tip-of-the-week-saying-you-are-unsure-about-something Of course saying you don't know something and saying you are unsure about it are pretty similar concepts so it's not surprising that there is some overlap.

  • Posted by Ahmad Al-Wahy to Life skills tip of the week: ways of saying 'I don't know' on October 21, 2014 What about this (from your dictionary -- Macmillan!) '... "you never can tell" or "you can never tell" spoken used for saying that it is impossible to be certain about something You can never tell how long these meetings will last.' Perhaps this is a more up-to-date version of "No one can tell"?

  • Posted by Stan to The wacky world of ‘wack’ and ‘whack’ on October 21, 2014 Ian: There is now, thanks to you. John: It's pretty wack that whack's cartoonish connotations belie its probable origins in physical violence. I didn't know that about whelk – another interesting case.

  • Posted by John Cowan to The wacky world of ‘wack’ and ‘whack’ on October 16, 2014 Wacky, however, is < whack 'fool', presumably one who's been whacked on the head. So the spelling indicates an etymological distinction that doesn't actually exist. Whelk has a similar story: etymologically it should be welk.

  • Posted by Ian Mac Eochagáin to The wacky world of ‘wack’ and ‘whack’ on October 15, 2014 And not a mention of paddywhackery!