вторник, 4 октября 2011 г.

Word Study: 10 widely used expressions with common verbs

Rembrandt, Belsazar
Some verbs like "make," "do," "time," "up," "down" and others are rather common in the English language. However, most of the time most of these short and easy words make up expressions, phrases and idioms that are not as easy to figure out unless you actually know them. For instance, what does it mean "to read the writing on the wall?" On the one hand, all the words are familiar, but you still won't be able to know the meaning of the phrase unless you actually look it up and memorize it.

I'd like to make a list of 10 most commonly used ones and then let you practice those in a short quiz.

  1. "down the drain": when you say that something "goes down the drain" you usually talk about the money or efforts that have been wasted. 
  2. "make one's toes curl": when something "makes your toes curl" it means it is very embarrassing or shocking.
  3. "make the most out of it": even if your life situation is not good at the moment you can "make the most of it", that is, enjoy it even when it's not the best. Another good expression is "make the lemonade out of lemons", which means the same thing - you take whatever comes your way and look at it positively.
  4. "let one's hair down": when you "let your hair down" you relax and stop being too serious.
  5. "to be in the know": you are "in the know" when you know what is going on, usually when somebody else has told you what is happening.
  6. "to know where all bodies are buried": when you "know where all bodies are buried" you know all the secrets that nobody else knows.
  7. "to know the ropes" or to "learn the ropes": means to learn the basic  things about an occupation, a job, etc. Usually whenever people start a job they have to "learn the ropes."
  8. "nothing to write home about": when you say that you have nothing to write home about it usually means that not many things are happening in your life or if something has happened it hasn't been very significant, so there's nothing to write home about.
  9. "to read the writing on the wall" means to know or foresee that something bad is going to happen. The  expression comes from the Bible when King Belsazar took all the sacred vessels from the Solomon's Temple and served food and drinks in them. In the middle of the feast he saw the hand writing some words on the wall, which in fact was a prophecy that his kingdom will fall (you can read this story in the Bible, the book of Daniel, chapter 5).
  10. "make time" for something: when you "make time" for something you find time in your schedule to spend time on something.
Now that you know these 10 expressions here's a quiz for you to practice them (you don't have to put your "real" name):

Take our online test