Phrases with ‘Look’ (and versions there of)

Look can be a verb (to look) or a noun (a look); it can also without modification function as an adjective, (the look out). There are also some idiomatic features involving ‘look’.

  • A looker may not be able to see. (Looker meaning someone physically attractive or good looking) A looker may not be looking at anyone or looking at the person who judges them a looker.
  • A look out, watches for things they hope not to see, (the police for criminals, rocks for sailors etc.).
  • ‘Good looking‘ and ‘well looking‘ may mean very different things, despite their similarity, (attractive vs. healthy) hopefully most of you feel you qualify for both. 🙂
  • Looking good’ is more often a comment on a situation than anything physical or specific. So you’re research notes may be a pile of scruffy paper, but if you have everything you need for your thesis that pile might be ‘looking good’.
  • Looks are nice to have, it means attractive (again), while in the past wearing glasses was normally a minus in this area, more and more people with looks have glasses as well.
  • A ‘dirty look‘ is clean, if not pleasant, you (probably) give them to people who cut in line, shout into their phones on public transport or pinch the salt from other tables in restaurants.

Look as a verb is also highly prepositional: (phrasal verbs)

  • to look forward (refers to future time and expectations of events or others’ actions)
  • to look ahead (usually more like planning for the future)
  • to look out (be aware of people/things/events around you that might be dangerous)
  • to look for (search for a specific thing, not necessarily with your eyes)
  • to look into (investigate)
  • to look up (check academically i.e. with a dictionary etc. // or find an old friend when visiting their city)
  • to look around/about means to search or explore rather than perusing a specific person or object
  • to look at something/somebody may not mean seeing or understanding them, only pointing the eyes in their direction
  • to look down on somebody/something means to dislike, disrespect or even disregard them/it
  • and many more… you can look them up or look out for them J

The related words ‘see’ & ‘watch’ can also cause confusion because we tend to ‘watch tv’ and ‘see a film’ but not look either of these.




Royal Baby Name

The awaited birth of the Royal Baby, to the Cambridges has prompted a lot of speculation about the little boy’s name. And while we like guessing games as well as the nest person this turns one to thinking about the meanings of names.

Will it be something Posh? Reading last week that Frederick William George or another combination of those is most likely, let’s start there.

I like the idea of a Prince Freddy (because how else would he be known?) Prince Ricky?

Found image remains (probably) porperty of Ricky Gervais and/or HBO, however no posted copyrite was found.

Found image remains (probably) property of Ricky Gervais and/or HBO, however no posted copyrite was found.

There is already a Prince Billy, and there have been a number of Georges. Two within the last four Monarchs (House of Windsor) George V and George VI. Additionally George despite being a favourite, means farmer or even ditch digger if you’re not to careful about your translation of ancient Greek. While I doubt these thoughts bear too heavily on the happy couple, and probably less so on many people. We’ve never had a King Frederick which means peaceful ruler perhaps wishful thinking but it might just be apposite for our times, although it could work against the House of Windsor’s tradition of military service. William on the other hand means desirable helmet, which is an optomistic description of a crown if I’ve ever heard one. Sharing his dad’s name could cause confusion at parties and round the family mail call… “no sorry! I’m the other Prince William”. Although, it seems likely his dad will be a popular monarch, (unless he gets really odd by the time the throne is in need of a new one).

What if the name is not what the bookies expect? What if they take a Middleton family name… Gary perhaps. Prince Gazza’s name would come originally from a word for a spear imported into England by another King William.

Whatever our future king is named, we’re all happy to hear that he and his parents are doing well, let’s hope it continues.

Street Etiquette

By Street Etiquette I don’t mean how to politely address teenagers, or gang member in their hoods… or do I?

Walking with my family (including pushchair) yesterday evening we were chatting while walking along a narrow piece of pavement (side walk) beside a fairly busy road. We were already single file with the pushchair leading, when a man coming the other way stopped us. Just before he stepped off the pavement to go round us – “Don’t say thanks or anything!” he said aggressively.

I like to think that I’m a polite person. Certainly I normally do thank anyone who makes way for me, especially if I’m being so inconsiderate to have a baby in a push chair taking up so much space with a large object with a small but limited turning circle. I freely admit that I do occasionally not see someone, or not see them in time. But, this was not one of those cases. It seems that the man wanted to be thanked before they actually did anything, or had even signalled their intention to do something.

It’s possible that they thought thier action or at least intent was clear. Or perhaps they had been having a really bad day and were in a very bad mood. Perhaps they wanted to start a fight? (Who picks a fight with families pushing babies in prams? But, that’s another post.)

In general, when would you thank someone who, stood aside for you, held a door etc.?

My feeling is that I would normally do this after, promptly but after the action. Yes, there are exceptions, somebody clearly signals they will do something that will take them out of range of thanks for example. But, maybe I’m wrong. Even within languages and countries manners change from place to place and from time to time.


International Students

A post from James about the importance of attracting International Students.


Recently in the news here there’s been a move by some members of the conservatives to further restrict and limit visas for international students, except of course to the Oxbridges. This is a bad idea. It is probably seen as an easy win for them with narrow-minded bigots and/or people who oppose all immigration, on any grounds.

International students are not (by and large) immigrants. The vast majority come to study and go home with the acquired skills and knowledge. In so doing they bring money into the country, money badly needed by the HE sector, but not only money for the HE institutions that teach them, money for the tourist industry, (yes these students travel and spend ) money for local businesses and communities, (many rent flats, eat out a lot more than their British counterparts etc.) Yes some few may stay, one such in America would be William…

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10 (mostly) free apps for creative language learning

What you do in the classroom can always be suplimented. Which are your favourites?

Oxford University Press

Girl in park with tablet computerHaving shown us 10 free apps for teachers to use for planning and classroom management, Shaun Wilden returns with 10 more apps to aid language learning in creative ways.

More and more teachers and schools are using mobile devices and tablets as a tool in and out of the classroom.  While the use of mobile assisted language learning is not just about using apps, it would be remiss to ignore the wealth of resources that are available.

Apps, if chosen wisely, can provide not only engagement and language practice but also create new ways of doing tasks. Utilising either the teacher or school’s tablet or employed as part of a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, apps provide an excellent addition to a teacher’s toolbox. Actually, like any tool, it is not the app that matters but what you do with it. If chosen for clear educational purposes, apps…

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EAP – daunting, dry, difficult, and dull?

How do you feel about ‘studying to study’?

Oxford University Press

Bored studentRobert McLarty, Head of Professional Development at Oxford University Press, considers why English for Academic Purposes is often perceived as dull and difficult, and presents some tips for overcoming that perception.

I was recently asked to do a talk in Turkey to a group of university teachers. The organisers wanted me to talk about English for Academic Purposes but to make it interesting! Apparently EAP has a bit of a reputation with both learners and teachers for being Daunting, Dry, Difficult and Dull. I talked to one of our leading EAP authors, Edward de Chazal, and together we found a way of beating the four Ds with the five vowels – A, E, I, O, U.

As the framework for the talk developed it also became clear that one of the main reasons for this perception of EAP is due to the abundance of…

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Loan words

One thing that came up today was the idea of loan words.

While it is possible to express the idea behind Karaoke, Schadenfreude, Bungalow, Pirogi, Taboo, Pasta, Halal, Pajamas, Kamikaze, Tatoo, Kosher etc. in English without using these words it is: time-consuming, inexact and not much fun.

It has been said that “English is a langauge that lurks in dark alleys, knocks other languages over the head and rifles through their pockets for any loose vocabulary” and statistically speaking English is larger than other languages and perhaps adopts words (especially into dialects) more readily than some other languages.

English is also a fairly durable language, meaning that it can be battered about and broken quite extensively while still managing to function as a means of communication. I once observed one student asking another out with “you, me, movie, today evening” (sic), the message got across and they became a couple. This durability perhaps makes it more porous to new terms and linguistic ideas.

It’s also an international language with a number of versions and dialects. Having been a major colonising country (UK) and a large players in global economics (USA & UK not to marginalize other nations) English has also come into contact with a huge variety of other languages, and been used transactionally between individuals with no other means of communicating (remember the students from above). On a larger scale this can lead to the forming of pigeons and creoles, which may in time contribute more lexis to the language.

Here’s a challenge.

  1. Where do the words you use come from?
  2. What words do we not have an appropriate, pithy one word term for in English?


I was thinking about expressions using “grounded” and the confusion this may cause. “She is grounded” can have both positive and negative connotations.
Perhaps most obviously, if a pilot is grounded they are not allowed to fly planes. This is negative for the pilot, although perhaps not for any potential passengers, this usage can be used metaphorically. “The boss grounded our project”
If a teenager is grounded (by their parents) it is a punishment where they are not allowed to leave the home, (usually except for school, dentist appointments and perhaps visiting Grandma).  This is definitely a negative for the teenager, but probably positive for parents and Grandma. Again, adults might use this “I can’t come to your party, this flu has me grounded.
If we say this research is grounded in X or Y principal/theory, then we mean it is based on that work, or at least owes a lot to it.  This could be positive, negative or just a comment on a piece of works origins. 
If we say something like, “Susan is well grounded, especially for someone with her experience and background.” We mean that Susan is responsible, practical and probably calm and organised. Clearly this use is positive, although Susan may not be the best person to take to a party.
Lastly, electrical currents need to be grounded. If they are not they are not safe and might electrocute someone. While this use is technical jargon it’s clearly positive despite occasional problems that grounding circuits can cause.
P.S. Our Pre-sessional students are now grounded:
  1. They are on the ground thier planes have all arrived.
  2. They seem responsible, calm and focused.
  3. They must stay in and do lots of work – just kidding go enjoy the hat fair