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.
Every day, all around the world, business people write hundreds of millions of emails.
However, there is a limited number of different types of business emails. This means that many of the emails you send are very similar. For example, they are emails requesting information, asking for and confirming payment, arranging and confirming meetings and so on. They contain the same standard email phrases. It’s just the specific details that vary.
One way to save time and make your emails more accurate is to use emails templates. A template has the structure of a common email. All you need to do is change the details to fit the specific situation.
Watch the video to see some examples of using email templates.
The emails in the video use standard business email phrases. Download this pdf for more information about those phrases.