If you think about it, there is a lot of English language that revolves around, well, using language!
Here are some useful idioms and sayings related to using language and conversation.
1. off the top of my head
Meaning: Without researching the answer; without being sure
Example: “I don’t know what time I have to work off the top of my head, but I think at 11 a.m.”
Note: This is a good phrase to use if you want to express you aren’t certain about something or may be wrong.
2. in a nutshell
Meaning: To make the story brief; to communicate an idea quickly
Example: “She talked for so long about the changes to the department, but in a nutshell, the director is leaving next month.”
3. (to) wrap up
Meaning: To end; to conclude (a conversation or activity)
Example: “Let’s wrap up here and go get dinner.” -or- “Time to wrap up and go home.”
Do you have questions about how to use these or other English idioms or sayings? Let me know! Send me a private email via the form below, or leave a public comment at the bottom of the page. I want to hear from you!
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A lesson I was teaching earlier this week included the verb “ensure,” and when students started asking about other, similar sounding verbs, I realized it makes for a great blog lesson post!
Read on for definitions, example sentences, and mp3s for pronunciation of three easily confused English verbs: assure, insure, and ensure.
(Listen to my pronunciation of “assure” above!)
One of the easiest ways to determine if you need to use “assure” is looking at the structure of the sentence you’re producing.
Assure means that you are telling someone something with certainty, or to make a promise, as in:
I assure you, I never lied to you.
He assured her that he would be on time to the meeting.
The children assured their mother they would clean their rooms.
A sentence using “assure” will generally always be structured as (pro)noun + assure + (pro)noun + [noun phrase].
These last two words are where things get tricky.
Many sources will tell you that “insure” and “ensure” are nearly interchangeable.
One very specific use for “insure” is when it is related to an arrangement for money or compensation in the event of an accident, illness, or injury. This meaning is connected to the noun “insurance,” as in “car insurance” and “health insurance.”
In general, you could say that “insure” means to protect someone or something against something happening, as in:
I insured my car for a lot of money, because it is new.
To insure against a possible break-in, they installed an alarm system.
She is lucky that she insured her jewelry before it was stolen.
Lastly, “ensure” is to make something certain (or make sure that it is…sure!), as in:
Please ensure that you have all your belongings with you before you leave.
Students must ensure that they keep an accurate record of due dates.
Practicing every day will ensure success.
The main different to note between “assure” and “ensure” is that someone assures someone of something, while someone ensures something of happening.
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I recently taught a class about learning English through Social Media and I want to share some of it with you. Below, check out some essential English vocabulary and phrases related to social media.
Social Media Vocabulary
app: Short for “application.” Software for your mobile phone or table (or sometimes computer) that serves a specific function. For example, you likely have the Facebook app on your phone that allows you to access the site. You may also have apps to help you keep track of appointments, log exercise workouts, track your spending, and more.
blog: Originally short for “weblog,” a blog is an informal, online diary. Blogs can range from someone’s daily activities, to their opinions about politics, to fashion, music, film…and anything you can think of!
Blog posts are often shared on social media channels.
crowdsourcing: This is when people unite on social media / the Internet to help raise money or think of ideas to solve a problem. “Crowdfunding” is the specific term for when many people donate small amounts of money online to a cause.
feed: Example: Facebook feed; Twitter feed. The “home” section of a social media network. This is where you see the posts of all of your friends, as well as people and businesses you follow. A common verb used with the action of going through your feed is “to scroll.” “I was scrolling through my feed this morning and saw that Jenny is in New York this week.”
meme: Pictures that have words added to them, usually to be humorous. Memes are often shared on Facebook and Instagram.
viral: Also “goes/went viral”. This usually refers to a video, but could also refer to a photo or a general post. It means that many people have viewed the post/content and it was shared many times.
Social Media Acronyms (Acronyms are groups of letters that stand for words.)
ICYMI (in case you missed it): Twitter users especially use this for when they have a popular post that they post again.
“To miss (something)” is to not see it or hear about it yet. “ICYMI, here’s our latest product!”
TL;DR (too long, don’t read): This is written when a post is very long. Often, there will be a short sentence after the “TL;DR.” This sentence is a short summary of the longer text, in case people don’t want to read the entire post.
FOMO (fear of missing out): This is when someone feels envious about the experiences of others they see on social networks. “Jenn had a party last week and I was out of town. I got totally FOMO from looking at all the crazy Instagram posts about it.”
FBF and TBT (Flashback Friday and Throwback Thursday): These posts usually involve older photos that the poster wants to enjoy again. Normally, the photos are several months or even years old: “FBF to when I started Kindergarten!” But sometimes people jokingly post more recent photos: “TBT to last week when I celebrated my birthday!”
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