Filter by tag

  • A woman holding a book to her face, reading in a bookstore with shelves of books behind her
    • Just for fun
    • Linguistics and culture

    Fantasy, the English language and Tolkien

    By Charlotte Guest
    Reading time: 6 minutes

    A large number of well-known writers have often created or coined words that are used in everyday English. When you think of authors, prominent figures like Shakespeare may come to mind. He enriched the English language with words like "amazement," "bedazzled," and "fashionable." Charles Dickens introduced "boredom," showcasing his talent for capturing profound human emotions and societal issues in a single word. Lewis Carroll added whimsical words to our lexicon, including "chortle," a delightful mix of 'chuckle' and 'snort.'

    But Tolkien is another one of those authors who has added to the English language's colorful dictionary. Tolkien did not just create worlds; he also enriched our language, adding a lexicon that elicits the smell of mead in crowded halls and the sight of smoky mountains veiled in mystery. Language enthusiasts and fantasy fans alike join us on this philological adventure as we uncover the words that J.R.R. Tolkien, the mastermind behind Middle-earth, either coined or brought into the limelight.

  • A man smiling and high fiving another person
    • Just for fun
    • Language hints and tips

    Ways to express admiration in English

    By Pearson Languages

    Reading time: 4 minutes

    February is commonly associated with Valentine's Day, which is a day to express love and affection to your significant other. However, it's also important to express admiration for others in a platonic, non-romantic way.

    Language serves as the gateway to genuine communication, and one of the most delightful methods of connection is through expressions of admiration. As you practice and immerse yourself in the depths of the English language, you'll likely want to learn ways to convey heartfelt praise, elevating your ability to articulate and forge meaningful connections.

    In today's post, we explore a range of examples to enhance your language proficiency and elevate your conversational English.

    What is the definition of admiration?

    Originating from the Latin word admirari (meaning 'to wonder at'), admiration is the act of expressing sincere approval or deep appreciation towards someone or something, typically as a heartfelt form of praise or recognition for their achievements, qualities, or contributions. It is a sentiment that stems from feeling a genuine admiration for the impact and inspiration someone or something brings to our lives.

    Admiration is an emotion everyone can relate to, and the English language offers a beautiful range of words and expressions to convey it in the most subtle and nuanced ways.

    Whether you're dealing with a complex business transaction or simply enjoying a personal moment of connection, the richness of your words can reflect the depth of your feelings and make them even more meaningful.

    Examples of English compliments

    Let's look at some English phrases you can use to express admiration. There are different types for varying situations and people.

    Straightforward compliments

    To truly convey admiration in English, it's crucial to practice and become familiar with positive affirmations. The following phrases not only highlight the specific reason for your awe but also reflect a deeper, personal connection:

    • Your hard work is truly inspiring.
    • I'm in awe of your creativity.
    • You have an uncanny ability to make things happen.
    • Your perseverance is admirable.
    • Your kindness never goes unnoticed.

    Each of these phrases praises the character traits of the person you are addressing. They showcase attention to detail, appreciation for special skills, and the more intangible qualities, such as character and kindness, that are just as noteworthy.

    Tailored and specific accolades

    A compliment can carry more weight when it is clearly tailored to the individual. Phrases that are specific to a person's achievements and skills add a layer of thoughtfulness that is hard to ignore. Consider these examples of more personalized compliments:

    • The way you handled that difficult situation was masterful.
    • Your presentation was not only informative but also deeply insightful.
    • Your dedication to this project is truly top-notch.
    • I love how you always find a unique perspective.
    • Your attention to detail really sets you apart.

    These phrases go beyond generic niceties and serve to validate specific moments or attributes that set the person apart in a distinctive way.

    Building rapport with positive language

    Admiration doesn't always have to be solely based on achievements or success; it can also be directed toward someone's personality and interests.

    Sometimes, an outward expression of approval, high praise or agreement can forge a sense of commonality and mutual respect. Here are phrases that can help you beam with appreciation:

    • Your choice in music is impeccable.
    • I absolutely adore your sense of style.
    • The way you talk about your family is truly heartwarming.
    • Your passion for this topic is evident and contagious.
    • Your love of life is refreshing and infectious.

    Using these statements, you can create a warm and complimentary atmosphere, helping foster positive connections with others.

    Affectionate expressions for familiar friends

    When it comes to speaking (or writing) to someone you're close with, phrases of praise and admiration can touch on personal attributes and speak of shared experiences, creating an even stronger bond. These expressions should carry the warmth and familiarity that come with a close relationship:

    • Your sense of humor always lifts my spirits.
    • The wisdom you've shared has shaped and helped my own life so much.
    • You approach life's challenges with such grace; it's a privilege to know you.
    • The comfort and joy you bring as a friend cannot be overstated.
    • Your insights always provide a refreshing new angle, revealing things I had not thought about.

    These phrases are centered on intimate understanding and personal connections, deeply resonating with a shared history and mutual appreciation. They carry a more emotive meaning and weight, often used to reinforce the closeness and appreciation that develops through years of friendship or kinship. Therefore, you should use them with care and thought.

    The appropriateness of compliments

    The art of complimenting is nuanced; learning and gauging the appropriateness of a compliment is essential. Certain contexts or relationships might warrant a more conservative or formal approach. Professional settings, for example, often require focusing on achievements and abilities as opposed to personal compliments, which may be mistaken for overfamiliarity or unprofessional behavior.

    Consider culture and personal preferences

    Similarly, cultural sensitivities must be considered; a warm expression of admiration in one culture may be perceived as too forward or personal in another.

    Always ensure that compliments and praises are given in a manner that resonates with respect for the individual's privacy and comfort levels. By being mindful of your surroundings and the nature of your relationship with the person, your words of praise and admiration can be both fitting and heartfelt.

    Play it safe

    Usually, a good overall rule of thumb is the less you know someone, the less personal your compliments should be; if you're unsure, play it safe, or don't use one until you've gauged the situation appropriately.

    A note on delivery

    While these expressions are powerful in their own right, the delivery is key to ensuring the recipient truly feels your admiration. Context, tone of voice, and body language play a significant role in how your words are received. Be genuine, and let your admiration flow naturally. Avoid overuse of flattery, which can come across as insincere.

    Conclusion

    Whether you're networking, meeting with friends/loved ones, or simply conversing with a colleague, mastering the use of admiration and praise in the English language can open doors to deeper relationships and shared connections.

    Integrating these phrases into your lexicon can not only make your expressions more vibrant but can also help you cultivate a spirit of positivity, confidence and appreciation in your daily interactions. So make sure to incorporate examples like these into your own vocabulary; you never know whose day you might make with your compliments.

  • Man and a woman stood together smiling
    • Linguistics and culture
    • Just for fun

    6 more strange English phrases explained

    By Steffanie Zazulak

    In a previous blog, we shared some strange English phrases that might have left you with some questions. The English language is full of peculiar phrases that can even confuse fluent speakers. In today's post, we'll take a look at a few more such phrases to help you expand your repertoire.

  • A girl in a costume running up the stairs to the front door of a house that is covered in Halloween decorations
    • Just for fun
    • Language learning

    Eerie English idioms and phrases

    By Charlotte Guest

    As the leaves turn golden and the air becomes crisp, it's not only the ghosts and ghouls that come out to play. Halloween may happen only once a year, but learning about spooky idioms and phrases can add an exciting twist to your language journey throughout the year. So, grab your torch and let's delve in.

  • A couple smiling at eachother on a bridge in London with the river behind them
    • Just for fun

    9 slang terms from across the UK

    By Charlotte Guest

    The English language (British English in particular) is a fascinating mix of regional dialects and unique slang, shaped by centuries of history and cultural influences. Throughout its long history, the UK has had many invasions and visitors. From the Romans in ancient Londinium to the rolling hills of the Saxon heartland, and from the Viking raiders of the north to the Norman conquerors of the south, each wave of historical influence has shaped the dialects of the UK. Each region of the United Kingdom has its own distinct flavor of language and accent. Today, we embark on an English slang tour to explore some of the expressions from different regions.

  • A group of friends sat around a table playing games
    • Just for fun
    • Language hints and tips

    12 games and puzzles to level up language learning

    By Pearson Languages

    Enhancing your English skills doesn't have to be limited to studying textbooks and doing grammar exercises. One of the most enjoyable and effective ways to improve your proficiency in the language is by playing games and solving puzzles.

    These interactive activities not only stimulate your mind but also provide a fun way to challenge your cognitive abilities and immerse yourself in the English language.

    In this language learning blog post, we've put together a list of puzzles and games that can help you boost your vocabulary, grammar, comprehension, and communication skills while having a great time.

  • Woman with a open book to her face in a bookshop
    • Just for fun
    • Language learning
    • Language hints and tips

    Books to improve your English: Sci-fi and fantasy edition

    By Charlotte Guest

    Are you a fan of science fiction and fantasy books? These genres are not only very entertaining but can also help you improve your English skills. You can enhance your language proficiency by reading books with captivating storytelling, unique vocabulary and imaginative concepts.

    Following on from 9 great novels to help improve your English, we've gathered a list of great sci-fi and fantasy books that will transport you to amazing worlds and improve your language skills.

     

  • Three young people sat outside eating pizza and smiling
    • Just for fun
    • Linguistics and culture

    English food names explained: A culinary journey through language

    By Charlotte Guest

    Food is not just a means of nutrition; it can be a vibrant part of a culture's identity. English cuisine, influenced by its history, boasts a range of interesting and sometimes puzzling food names (some even puzzling fluent English speakers). Let's explore the stories behind some of the most well-known English food names.

     

  • A boy wearing headphones smiling listening to music
    • Just for fun
    • Language learning

    11 great English language song lyrics

    By Pearson Languages

    What is it about music that helps boost your English skills, confidence and pronunciation? A song can provide an emotional connection between the music and the listener, providing learners with new ways to express their feelings. Music and rhythm have also been shown to benefit memorization, which is a key component of learning.

    Here are some of our favorite lyrics to some of our favorite songs:

    1. The Beatles – Blackbird

    The Beatles are the best band to help you learn English. There are many Beatles songs with catchy melodies and simple lyrics, but Blackbird captures the Fab Four at their most poetic:

    Blackbird singing in the dead of night
    Take these broken wings and learn to fly
    All your life
    You were only waiting for this moment to arise

    2. The Cure – Friday I’m In Love

    This song is a great way to help learn the days of the week (that may be obvious). Love is also a very popular English word, so this one is for all the romantics out there.

    Always take a big bite
    It’s such a gorgeous sight
    To see you eat in the middle of the night

    3. Ed Sheeran – Thinking Out Loud

    Another one for the lovers, Ed’s heartfelt lyrics are huge in the mainstream pop charts. Here, he tells the sweet story of long-time love in this ballad and he’s becoming one of the world’s most sought-after songwriters.

    Take me into your loving arms
    Kiss me under the light of a thousand stars
    Place your head on my beating heart

    4. The Smiths – How Soon Is Now?

    This classic from Morrissey and co was voted runner-up in VH1’s Top Lyrics poll, for the lyrics: So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home and you cry and you want to die’ but it’s the opening lines of the song that are the most intriguing. Firstly, they’re adapted from George Eliot’s novel Middlemarch and include some rather clever double meanings – namely ‘son’ (sun) and ‘heir’ (air).

    I am the son
    And the heir
    Of a shyness that is criminally vulgar

    5. Neil Young – Heart of Gold

    This was Neil Young’s only number-one hit single from 1972’s Harvest album. He uses simple lyrics and melodies to tell his story of searching for true love.

    I’ve been in my mind
    It’s such a fine line
    That keeps me searchin’ for a heart of gold
    And I’m gettin’ old

    6. U2 – City of Blinding Lights

    U2 is the second-best band to help you learn English and frontman Bono is the second-best male artist to help you learn (edged out by Justin Timberlake). The chorus was inspired by a moment during a performance in New York City, when Bono saw the audience lit up and shouted, “Oh, you look so beautiful tonight!”

    And I miss you when you’re not around
    I’m getting ready to leave the ground
    Oh you look so beautiful tonight
    In the city of blinding lights

    7. The Police – Every Breath You Take

    These lyrics are a good use of repetition and rhyme, which is excellent for helping memorization. Most people consider this a love song, but that’s a common mistake. In 1983, Sting was interviewed for New Musical Express and explained: “I think it’s a nasty little song, really rather evil. It’s about jealousy and surveillance and ownership.”

    Every move you make and every vow you break
    Every smile you fake, every claim you stake, I’ll be watching you
    Every move you make, every step you take, I’ll be watching you

    8. Bob Dylan – Mr Tambourine Man

    Dylan’s whimsical, poetic lyrics might be difficult for an English language learner to interpret, but that doesn’t mean they’re not a pleasure to listen and sing along to.

    Hey! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
    I’m not sleepy and there is no place I’m going to
    Hey! Mr Tambourine Man, play a song for me
    In the jingle jangle morning I’ll come followin’ you

    9. Madness – Our House

    This song takes you through the daily goings-on in a typical household in the 80s. This song has been around for a while now but is a story that most people can still connect with. This is an excellent song for understanding the concept of nostalgia!

    I remember way back then when
    everything was true and when
    we would have such a very good time
    such a fine time

    10. Otis Reading – (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay

    Sadly, Otis Redding lost his life in a plane crash shortly after this song was recorded, and it was released after his death. His lyrics are quite reflective, provoking both contentment and sadness. You can really imagine yourself sitting on the dock with his simple yet descriptive words.

    Sittin’ in the morning sun
    I’ll be sittin’ when the evening comes
    Watching the ships roll in
    Then I watch them roll away again

    11. Leonard Cohen – Everybody Knows

    No list of standout turns of phrase would be complete without Leonard Cohen, a man whose songwriting process is so painstaking he’ll often spend years on the same song. When quizzed on his process, Cohen once said it often took so long because, “After a while, if you stick with the song long enough it will yield.” It’s interesting to note then that, even for a master of the English language, the words don’t always come easily. Everybody Knows remains a firm favorite among fans, with the majority of lines starting with the words ‘Everybody knows…’ It’s a lengthy song, but for the sheer beauty of its words and phrasing, the opening lines are a highlight:

    Everybody knows that the dice are loaded
    Everybody rolls with their fingers crossed
    Everybody knows that the war is over
    Everybody knows that the good guys lost