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Language tip of the week: method

ILearn English with Macmillan Dictionaryn this weekly post, we bring more useful content from the Macmillan Dictionary to English language learners. In this series of  language tips we look at how metaphor is used to express some common concepts in English. This week’s tip looks at metaphors used to talk about methods of doing something:

The methods that you use to do something are like tools and machines. The process of doing something is like using a machine.



It takes years to learn the tools of the trade.
We have a very efficient mechanism/apparatus for dealing with this.
Some search engines are more powerful than others for retrieving information from the Web.
It is an important part of the machinery of government.
It is an effective instrument of government.
We don’t have much political leverage in this matter.
I know very little about the internal workings of the company.
Everything is running like clockwork.
We’re firing on all cylinders.
You should set the wheels in motion now.
We need to move up a gear.
She engineered the public relations campaign.

A method of doing something is like a road from one place to another. The process of doing something is like a journey.

What’s the best way of doing it?
This is a certain route/path to success.
Maybe we should try a different approach.
We have explored several different avenues.
He showed us what to do, step by step.
This job is just a stepping-stone for me.
There’s a useful short cut that I can show you.
We need to move things along a bit faster.

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Liz Potter

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