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UK slang: phrases with the word ‘piss’

pipi

Slang can be quite fun to learn. Today’s post is dedicated to all those British expressions containing the word ‘piss‘.

Beware, in American English some of these words and phrases might have a different meaning!

Also, avoid using them on a formal occasion!

TO BE PISSED

In BrE to be pissed means to be drunk while in AmE it means to be angry.

I’ve had far too much to drink. I’m pissed!

And so TO GET PISSED means to get drunk (in the UK!!).

TO BE PISSED OFF (BrE)

If you’re pissed off, you’re angry. I know it gets confusing with this AmE versus BrE thing!

and TO PISS SOMEONE OFF means to make someone angry.

He really pissed me off the other night with all that bullshit!

TO PISS DOWN (weather) 

This phrasal verb could be an alternative to the famous idiom ‘it’s raining cats and dogs‘.

I won’t go out, it’s pissing down!

TO PISS AROUND

If you’re pissing around, you aren’t doing anything really. You’re just wasting your time.

I’ve done nothing today, I’ve just  been pissing around on the internet. 

TO PISS AWAY (something)

If you piss away something (usually money, energy, time or opportunities), you waste it.

I can’t believe you’ve pissed away all that money on this car!

TO TAKE THE PISS OUT OF someone

If you take the piss out of someone, you make fun of them.

Stop taking the piss out of him!

TO TAKE THE PISS

If you’re taking the piss, you’re being annoying and unreasonable.

Come on! we’re late, get dressed! Stop taking the piss!

I’d say that ‘to take the piss’ is a cooler alternative to the idiom ‘to pull someone’s leg‘ 🙂

The noun form is a PISS-TAKE: What? £10 for a cappuccino?That’s a piss-take!  
(the price is unreasonable, ‘piss-take’ is a synonym for ‘rip-off’ in this context)

So I think I’ve pissed away enough time for today, I’d better go to work 🙂
Talk soon,
Deb

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2

Natural English: how to talk about what you like/dislike

grabbing-hand-psd19419Today’s post is about expressions you can use when talking about what you like or dislike. We’re also going to look at some language that you can use when discussing your opinion about a book or movie that you’ve watched. So if you don’t want to go for “I like/don’t like”, here are some options you can choose from:

TO BE A BIG FAN OF something / someone

I’m not a big fan of meat
I’m a big fan of Wes Andersons’ movies

TO BE INTO something

I’m not into football, I’m more into rugby.
Are you into Italian cinema?

TO BE KEEN ON something

I’m not really keen on cycling
She’s very keen on French cinema

NOT TO BE ABLE TO STAND something / someone – to really dislike

I can’t stand running when it’s raining
I can’t stand George, he’s so annoying

something IS NOT someone’S THING

Running is not my thing
Cooking is not my thing

If something is not your thing, you don’t enjoy doing it and you’re not good at it.

TO BE FOND OF something /someone

She’s fond of her cousin
I’m fond of chocolate

TO NOT GET MUCH FROM something – to find something uninteresting

I don’t get much from reading contemporary fiction.
I don’t get much from my drawing lessons

And now some phrases you can use when someone asks your opinion about a book or a movie. If you didn’t think the book or movie in question was that good, you can say:

“it didn’t move me”

= it didn’t make me feel much emotionally

“it didn’t grab me”

= it didn’t manage to arouse my interest

“I didn’t think much of it”

“I never got into it”

=it never got me interested

“I thought it wasn’t worth reading / watching”

=reading / watching it was a waste of time

“I didn’t get much from it”

= I didn’t enjoy it

If you really disliked it, you should go for one of these phrases:

“I thought it was rubbish”

“I thought it was appalling”

Finally, if you really liked a book, you could say:

“That book was a real page-turner!”

=a book that you read very quickly because it’s so engaging

“It was a compelling story”

=a very engaging and fascinating story

Talk soon,

Deb

4

Pronunciation: what’s the difference between want and won’t?

BizarroEyeChartPronunciation is one of the tricky aspects of learning English. There are few rules and lots of exceptions, this is way listening to podcasts and watching movies/series is so important. The more you’re exposed to the language, the easier it’ll be to learn the right pronunciation.

Today I’d like to point out the differences between words that sometimes students perceive as having the same pronunciation. This often happens with ‘minimal pairs‘: words that differ in their pronunciation only for one sound, like ‘want’ and ‘won’t’.
Other times it’s the spelling of a word that misleads the reader into pronouncing it as a different word, some students have a hard time distinguishing between ‘heart’ and ‘earth’ (and what about ‘hurt’?!).

Also, people in the UK pronounce some words differently from people in the U.S. One of the striking features of British pronunciation is that the ‘r’ is often silent. For instance, to say ‘nurse’ an American would say nɜːrs while a British would drop the ‘r’ and say nɜːs. 

In London it gets even ‘worse’ as some people tend to drop even the ‘t’. For instance, ‘a bottle of water’ becomes ‘ˈbɒʔl əv ˈwɔːʔə’ >> Click here to listen to a Londoner saying this sentence but don’t panic! Remember that you can always remind these Brits that you’re not from here and it’d be nice if they could make an effort to pronounce words properly 🙂

This symbol ‘ʔ’ is called ‘glottal stop‘ and replaces the ‘t’ in the sentence above. If you are passionate about languages you can read more about the ‘glottal stop’ here.

If you’re not familiar with the International Phonetic Alphabet that I use in this post, the British Council website has very useful chart that you can find here. The phonetic transcriptions that you find below refer to BrE and not AmE (that’s why the ‘r’ is not there!).

Below you find a list of the most common words students find confusing. Try to read them aloud and then check your pronunciation by clicking here and listen to a Londoner saying these words.

WANT & WON’T

/wɒnt/          /wəʊnt/

COURSE & CAUSE

/kɔːs/                 /kɔːz/

WORK & WALK

/wɜːk/              /wɔːk/

WORD & WORLD

/wɜːd/             /wɜːld/

LOW & LAW

/ləʊ/           /lɔː/

HAIR & HER (and EAR!)

/h/          /hə/          /ɪə/

EARTH & HEART (and HURT!)

/ɜːθ/      /hɑːt/     / hɜːt/

BAG & BEG (and BUG!)

/bæɡ/      /beg/      /bʌɡ/

TEETH & THIEF

/tiːθ/    /θf/

SHIT & SHEET  – this one is a classic 🙂

ɪt/        /ʃɪ:t/

Hope you’ve found this post useful,

/tɔːk   su:n/ ! 🙂

Deb

0

Confusing adverbs/adjectives: do I smell bad or badly?

bad-armpit-odor

The right answer is bad, meaning that your smell is not good (and so go and have a shower please! 🙂 )

If you said ‘you smell badly’ you would be saying that the person you’re talking to doesn’t know how to or can’t smell properly.

The same way you’d say ‘you look good in that dress!’ and not ‘you look well in that dress’. Like in the sentence above ‘you smell bad’, also in this case the focus is NOT on HOW we perform the action (‘to look’ and ‘to smell’) .

This is why you say:

I feel bad for not coming to your wedding (= here I’m not discussing whether I’m good or bad at feeling stuff, I’m just saying that as a result of feeling something I’m sad)
He looked sad last time I saw him (=he seemed sad)

The adverb ‘badly’ says something about how you carry out an action. For instance, you’d be correct in saying ‘John behaves badly at school’ because you’re talking about the way John is carrying out an action (‘to behave’).

So this is why you say:

He looked at me sadly(=he looked at me in a sad way)

HOWEVER, you could say ‘I smell badly’ if you meant that you’re not good at smelling things maybe because of a cold.

I hope I’ve explained it well enough.
Talk soon,
Deb

11

Natural English: how to make requests when out and about

orange_squeezeOften people feel at a loss when being out and about* in London they need to ask something to the person next to them or a passer-by. Some students feel they can’t find the right words. Today’s post is about the kind of questions you might need to ask strangers when going around the city. The questions I came up with are deliberately more complex than the ones you’d usually learn at school and mostly used by British people.

‘To be out and about’ means to be out doing stuff, going to places etc

CAN I SQUEEZE IN?

Context: you’re on the bus and you’ve just seen a spare seat but someone is sitting on the aisle seat. You could ask this person ‘Sorry, can I sit there?’ or ‘Sorry, can I squeeze in?’.

The idea behind the use of the verb ‘squeeze in’ is that you know that there isn’t enough room and this person will have to move a bit to let you sit there. You want to bother them the least, so you’ll try to squeeze in.

ARE YOU DONE WITH THAT PAPER? – TO BE DONE WITH SOMETHING

If ‘you’re done with something’ you don’t need that thing anymore.

Context: you’re on the tube and see someone placing the paper they’ve just read on a seat next to them, before grabbing it you might want to ask “sorry, are you done with that paper?”.

BY ANY CHANCE

Context: you want to ask for directions / some information. For instance, you need to take money out and are looking for an ATM.
You could add to your question the expression ‘by any chance’ to show your being aware that the person you’re asking might not know the answer: “Sorry, by any chance do you know where I can find an ATM ?”.

TO KEEP AN EYE ON SOMETHING

Context: you’re at the pub and want to go to the toilet but you’re afraid someone will accidentally take your beer. You decide to ask the person next to you to keep an eye on it: “sorry, could you keep an eye on my beer while I go to the toilet?”

In this context ‘to keep an eye on something’ means to look after something, to make sure nothing bad will happen to it.

TO SAVE SOMEONE SOMETHING

Context: still at the pub, you and your mate want to go out for a smoke but don’t want to lose your seats. You could ask the people next to you “Sorry, could you save us these seats while we go for a smoke?.

In this context, ‘to save someone their seat’ means to make sure nobody will take those seats while they’re gone.

TO BORROW SOMETHING

If you borrow something, you ask the permission to use something for a period of time after which you’ll give it back.
Context: you’re outside the pub (your beer and seat are safe inside) and realise that you don’t have a lighter. You could ask someone “do you have a lighter” but how about “could I borrow your lighter?” since this is what you want to do.

TO FETCH SOMEONE SOMETHING

This is another way to say ‘to get something and give it to someone’.
Context: still at the pub (you’re loving the British drinking culture! You’ll never leave this pub), you want to go out and need your coat. The pub is packed and your coat is out of reach because some strangers are now sitting where you initially put your coat. You could squeeze in or just ask them to give it to you: “Sorry mate, I don’t suppose you could fetch me that coat?”

I DON’T SUPPOSE (Br)

‘I don’t suppose’ is an expression often used to make clear that you don’t want to bother the person you’re asking to do something. British people tend to assume they’re bothering everyone 🙂

TO GIVE SOMEONE A HAND

Finally, you’ve had enough of London and want to take the train back to wherever you come from. You get on the train and your backpack is so heavy that you can’t lift it (all that shopping at Primark!) and want to ask someone to help you: “Sorry could you give me a hand with this backpack?”

Anyway, I hope you’ll enjoy your day out and about in London!:)

Talk soon,
Deb

p.s.= after rereading this post I’ve realised that most of what I assumed to be your day in London was spent in a pub 🙂

0

Idioms and expressions with the word ‘point’

images A few days ago someone asked me the meaning of the expression ‘at some point’ in the following sentence: ‘Come around at some point this week’. I suddenly realised that there are many idioms and expressions in English that use the word ‘point’. Here’s a selection of the ones I most often use:

TO BE POINTLESS / THERE BE NO POINT IN DOING SOMETHING / NOT TO SEE THE POINT IN DOING SOMETHING

If you say that ‘something is pointless’, you mean that it’s useless.
i.e. Talking to him is pointless, he never listens.

The expressions ‘there be no point IN doING something’ and ‘not to see the point in doing something’ have the same meaning.

i.e. There is no point in talking to him, he never listens.
i.e. I don’t see the point in talking to him, he never listens.

AT SOME POINT

‘at some point’ simply means ‘some time‘.
i.e. I’ll come around at some point this week
i.e. At what point in your life did you decide to become a teacher? (‘at what point’ in a question just means ‘when‘).

UP TO SOME/ A POINT

The expression ‘up to some/a point’ puts a limit to what is being said:
i.e. You can follow other people’s advice up to some point. >> (After this point) You should figure out by yourself what’s best for you.
i.e. That’s true up to a point

to some extent‘ has a similar meaning.
i.e. I agree with you to some extent

TO MAKE A POINT & HAVE A POINT & TO GET SOMEONE’S POINT & TO SEE SOMEONE’S POINT & MY POINT IS..

These idioms are used when discussing opinions.

To GIVE your opinion you could start by saying

‘My / The point is…
The point I want to make is ..
…that people should have the right to express their opinion

When discussing someone else’s opinion, you could say ‘I get your point’ / I see your point / I see the point you want to make / You have a point! / That’s a good point! ‘  to mean that you UNDERSTAND the other person’s view on something.

While, if you DON’T understand the other person’s opinion, you could say
“I’m sorry but…
     I don’t see your point
     I don’t see the point you want to make
     I don’t get your point

Note: all the above expressions are followed by the preposition ‘IN’ plus the gerund (-ING):
i.e. I don’t see your point in saying that people should mind their own business

TO MAKE A POINT OF DOING SOMETHING

If ‘you make a point of doing something’, you make sure you’re able to do it.
i.e. I always make a point of watching the news. I want to know what’s going on in the world.

TO GET TO THE POINT

When you ask someone ‘to get to the point’, you want to know what their intention / objective is.
i.e. I don’t have time to waste, can you please get to the point?

TO POINT something OUT TO someone

If you point something out, you want to draw people’s attention to it.
i.e. He pointed this problem out to me the other day.

I hope you saw the point in reading this post!
Talk soon,
Deb