We are creating more and more interactive materials for our blog and to support our language courses. If there is a particular area of language you think we should focus on, please use the comment box below or contact us with your ideas.
d) Relates to the practice of whipping with a cat-o’-nine-tails (a kind of whip with several ‘tails’).
e) Early navigators could easily become lost when out of sight of land as it was hard to work out their exact position.
1 c 2 e 3 d 4 a 5 b
Today, these idioms are no longer associated with ships and the sea.
Read these sentences and choose the correct modern meaning for the idiom.
1) Congratulations! You’ve done a first rate job setting up the new order system.
b) high quality
2) When I first started here, I felt all at sea, but everyone was so friendly I soon settled in.
3) She’s just bought a flat in London, but considering it cost £250,000 there’s no room to swing a cat!
a) it’s luxurious
b) it’s very small
c) it’s expensive
4) Don’t worry about the cost – you only get married once – let’s push the boat out!
a) have a party on a boat
b) invite a lot of people
c) spend a lot of money
5) Although I’d met him before, it was only when we started working together that he showed his true colours.
a) saw his real personality
b) saw he was a nice person
c) saw he didn’t like me
1 b 2 a 3 b 4 c 5 a
If you’ve never been to Greenwich, it’s definitely worth a visit – we met up with one of our ‘old’ students from Switzerland there. The National Maritime Museum has many fascinating exhibits, including Nelson’s uniform from the Battle of Trafalgar, with the hole made by the bullet that killed him!
If you have vistied Greenwich, we would love to hear about your experience. Leave a reply below.
Homophones are words that are pronounced the same but have different spellings and meanings.
The words but are easy to say but it’s important to know the spellings and meanings og the most common English homophones. Even native-speakers of English sometimes make mistakes in there their writing.
Test yourself with our interactive homophone quiz.
Does your company manufacture products? Do you have to talk to customers about those products?
How do you describe a product?
One way is to start with the questions that customer might ask about the product.
Watch our video. We ask and answer questions about a common piece of computer equipment. At the end we put the answers together to create a short, clear description of that product.
Now test yourself
Here’s information about another product. See if you can make a question for each piece of information and then write down the answers to create the product description. The answers are at the bottom of this page.
275mm x 117mm x 150mm, 550gms
For use with
silk, nylon, wool, cotton, linen
Country of origin
These are some suggested answers.
It’s a steam iron.
What do you use it for?
You use it to iron or press clothes.
How big is it?
It’s 275mm long, 117mm wide and 150mm tall.
What does it weigh?
It weighs 550 grams.
What materials can you use with it?
You can use it with silk, nylon, wool, cotton and linen.
What’s it made of?
It’s made of metal and plastic.
Where was it made?
It was made in China.
How much does it cost?
It costs €30.
How well did you do? Did you make any other questions and answers? Use the comment box and share them with us.
Do you need to expand your business English vocabulary? Contact us to talk about it.
This week we have a vocabulary mind map on the same topic. It’s divided into three reasons for losing your job. Those are then split into verbs (blue boxes) and nouns (pink boxes) with an example sentence to illustrate each one.
You can see the mind map on the Popplet website or download an image file.
This week the Bank of England forecast that 75,000 people working in the banking sector in the UK could lose their jobs. This is because many financial services companies are making plans to leave London to avoid the impact of Brexit.
Lose your job is just one of the many ways of saying that a company has stopped employing you. If a company decides they don’t need you any more, they make you redundant, lay you off or let you go.
Grammar is important here. If we focus on the actions of the company, we use the active voice:
“The bank made 2,500 people redundant when it closed its High Street branches.”
If we focus on the person affected, we use the passive voice:
“I was laid off by the insurance company at the start of the year.”
Nobody likes to be made redundant and we all hope we’ll never get the sack. However, there’s one day many of us will welcome. That’s the day when we reach the age that we can retire and don’t have to go to work anymore.
Practise your listening. Click on play to hear Barney reading this text.
This week you can test yourself. How well do you know the words that go together with deal?
Read and listen to the text again then try the exercises.
Words making the headlines – deal
All across Europe, people, companies and governments are trying to make deals with each other. The British government wants to get a deal on Brexit so that it can then negotiate trade deals with other countries. Taxi company Uber is hoping to strike a deal with the transport authorities in London over its licence to operate in that city. French public sector trade unions want to cut a deal with President Macron over budget cuts. In Germany, newly re-elected Chancellor Merkel is working hard to close a deal with possible coalition partners.
Of course, everybody wants to get a good deal. Prime Minister May is worried that the UK may not get a fair deal from the European Union. She is even making plans for a no deal Brexit in case any deal with the EU falls through. Many people in Catalonia think they get such a rough deal from the government of Spain that they want the region to declare independence.
Across the Atlantic, however, the author of a book called ‘The Art of the Deal’ is not interested in doing deals. President Trump says he wants the USA to back out of the deal to address climate change made in Paris last year. At the same time, he has made it clear that he doesn’t want to discuss a deal with the leadership of North Korea to avoid military conflict.
Mr Trump, famously, is not an easy man to deal with. Try to remember that next time you’re finding it difficult to make a deal with a customer or colleague.
Read and listen to the text and then answer the questions.
1. What three expressions can you find in the text which mean ‘make a deal’?
2. What expression in the text means the opposite of ‘a good deal’?
3. What expression can we use when a deal is unsuccessful or does not happen?
4. What expression in the text means to change your mind after you have agreed a deal?
Now use the expressions in the box to complete the sentences.
cut a deal
backed out of the deal
close the deal
1. Although they have not announced an agreement, negotiators from both sides are working hard to ____________________ before Friday’s deadline.
2. The young entrepreneur is hoping to ____________________ with financiers which will enable him to start production of his latest invention.
3. A recent report claimed that budget airlines were giving passengers a ____________________ by charging extra for services such as hold luggage, meals and seat selection.
4. Strepco and Matrite had agreed on a merger but the deal ____________________ when the two sides failed to agree on the members of the new Board.
5. The company said it would refuse to ____________________ unelected union representatives.
6. United had agreed to buy City’s goalkeeper for an undisclosed sum, but ____________________ at the last minute.
7. Consumer rights groups said payday loan companies were taking advantage of customers, and new lending regulations were needed to help customers get a ____________________ on short-term loans.
1. strike a deal, cut a deal, negotiate a deal
2. a rough deal
3. to fall through
4. back out on a deal
1. close the deal
2. cut a deal
3. rough deal
4. fell through
5. deal with
6. backed out
7. fair deal
How many did you get correct? Make a note of the vocabulary that is useful for your job and use it when you speak and write in English.