Wednesday, March 17, 2010


"Keep me on my toes" is a clichè that means "keep me alert, aware, and prepared" so you will not get caught off-guard (off-guard is yet another clichè).

Hardly, barely, scarcely imply a narrow margin by which performance was, is, or will be achieved.
Hardly, though often interchangeable with scarcely and barely, usually emphasizes the idea of the difficulty involved: We could hardly endure the winter.
Barely emphasizes the narrowness of the margin of safety, “only just and no more”: We barely succeeded.
Scarcely implies a very narrow margin, below satisfactory performance: He can scarcely read.

Friday, March 12, 2010

phrasal verbs - 5

fall off
The dish fell off the table and broke.
Sales of fountain pens fell off after the ballpoint pen was invented.
Noun: The chairman was asked to explain the falloff in the company's sales.
Maria filled in the application and gave it to the secretary.
I fell asleep during the lecture? Can you fill me in on what the professor said?
Noun: The check isn't any good - the amount isn't filled in.
fill in (for)
The regular bartender is on vacation so Todd is filling in for him.
Noun: Jerry is Ann's fill-in while she's on vacation.
go ahead (with)
I've decided to go ahead with my plans to reorganize the company.
Yes, go ahead and leave work early. It's not a problem.
Noun: The FDA (Food Drug Administration) approved the drug and gave the company the go-ahead to market it.
grow up
I grew up on a small farm in North Dakota.
You're acting like a child. Why don't you grow up?
Adjective: Susie is only eleven but she acts very grown-up.
Noun: Only grown-ups are allowed to sit in the front seat of a car.
The teacher handed the tests out to the class.
Noun: Handouts of food were given to the homeless people.
The teacher prepared a handout for his students.
kick back
She offered to kick back 10% if I switched to her company.
It's been a rough week. Let's kick back and watch the game tonight.
Noun: The reporter discovered that the loan to the governer was really a kickback.
Ford laid off 20,000 workers during the last recession.
Noun: The company said there wouldn't be any layoffs despite the decline in profits.
lay off
You've been bugging me all day. If you don't lay off, you'll be sorry.
Listen to how much you're coughing. You've got to lay off cigarettes.
I tried to fix my computer myself but I just screwed it up worse.
You really screwed me up when you lost my car keys.
Noun: My back is so screwed up I can't even walk.
Two babies were switched because of a screw-up in the maternity ward.
come up with
It took me all night, but I came up with the answer.
get around to
I didn't get around to doign my taxes until April 14.
get...out of
Sam got out of gym class by pretending to be sick.
The judge didn't get any pleasure out of imposing such a harsh sentence.
It took me a while, but I got the whole story out of her.
go back on
The president went back on his pledge not to raise taxes.
go through with
The company's president said they would go through with their plan to move operations to Mexico.
monkey around with
I monkeyed around with my camera and I think maybe I fixed it.
boil down to
My decision to stay at his awful job boils down to one thing - money.
come down with
I don't feel well. I mustbe coming down with something.
I caught a cold but I am getting better.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

some notes

My family are coming to visit. They come once a year. in BrE
My family is coming to visit. They come once a year. in AmE
However in standard AE,
I love my family. It is important to me. is standard.

I love my family. They are important to me. in BrE

If you are speaking AE, your family takes a singular verb.
If you are speaking BE, it may be singular or plural, depending on context.

How much does a burger cost? Four dollars and change.
How long have you been practicing? Four hours and change.

It means
extra... the "change" is from currency transactions meaning literal change (coins added to the four dollars in paper notes above) -- but it is sometimes used in other contexts.

A along with B go fishing every other week. They love it. (plural)
Along with A, B is one of the biggest fans of fishing. (singular)

Units of time are singular.
One week is enough
Three days
is enough
Twelve minutes
is enough
How many hours of sleep are enough for good health? (Not a time unit.)
Eight hours is a good number to begin with. (A time unit.)
How many minutes are there in an hour?
There are sixty minutes in an hour. (Not a time unit, just an answer.)

How much time do I have to do this job?
Sixty minutes is enough time.
(A time unit.)

"Sometimes people don't like to correct other people's mistakes in order not to not come off as rude."
"Sometimes people don't like to correct other people's mistakes so that they do not come off as rude."

I can't stand it when she does ....
It's the action she does you can't stand.
I can't stand her doing it
It's her doing the action you can't stand.

Monday, March 1, 2010


I advise people.
I recommend things.

I recommend that the work be started at once.
I am recommending that the work be started at once.
It is my recommendation that the work be started at once.
I would recommend that the work be started at once.
I recommend that you go to the cinema.
I recommend that you follow the advice of me.
I recommend your going to the doctor.
I recommend that you go to the doctor.