Category: Common English mistakes

Hanged for a sheep as a lamb: idioms

My crimes are small. Stealing pens from the office, wishing ill will against my husband, and using a credit card which refuses to close no matter how many times I phone to request this. I must say I am enjoying this free money and the guilt has all but evaporated.

Oh, for the life of Rilely: origin of idioms

I guess it’s no co-incidence that my blog today is about living the life of Riley. As I have been feeling restless and vigorously browsing travel sites (Corona virus notwithstanding – SA has just confirmed its first case) it should come as no surprise as the universe has a way of putting universal synergy in your path.

Best is best! Language quirks

I am constantly amazed at the number of authors who label their books ‘No 1. Bestseller’. Last weekend, I shared a platform with a new writer who did just that. A Google search reveals 2.2 billion responses for the term ‘No.1 bestseller’, but by the strict definition of the term there should be only one.

Valentine’s chip on shoulder: how idioms originate

Bad day...
Grumpy?

As it’s Valentine’s Day, I was remembering one of the less romantic dates of my early dating life.

I think it was the second date and Charles had asked to “see my etchings”.

The unromantic prelude to this great event was the sharing of a plate of chips. Two remained on the plate, and I said to Charles, “You can have them, one for each shoulder,” smiling at my own wit.

Limelight or spotlight? Use the right phrase.

Novak Djokovic enjoys the limelight

The English language is full of tricks and words of similar meaning that are confusing to second language speakers.

One of these is limelight and spotlight. While some believe that to be in the limelight and under the spotlight are much the same, I think they are quite different.

From six yards to nine: how idioms originate

In mid-January I asked my bookkeeper for an updated statement of my account. I wanted to look at my Dec/Jan financial affairs to prepare myself for 2020.

What he sent was a massive 13-page dossier going back to January 2019.

Magnate or magnet: Use the right word

Colour magnets
Fridge magnets – the scientific kind

This week South Africans bade farewell to our stalwart entrepreneur Richard Maponya. Mayponya, who died at the age of 99, brought to the country, the first shopping mall in a township. Until that day, the two were a contradiction in terms.

The newsreader said that we had lost a business magnate

SA not in a good moody – despite new year joy

dog-2794681_1920

As South Africans settle into the swing of 2020 economic uncertainty still dogs day to  day discussions. So despite the freshness of a new year, you might be feeling a little grey and this is the perfect time to flex your marketing muscle.

Take all the grey and apply it to some cerebral activity.

Best thing since sliced bread: how idioms are formed

Last week, I decided I was tired of egg and toast for breakfast, so I ate muesli for five days. This week I ran out of bread and it would be a while until I could get to the shops. By the end of the week I was really missing my bread.

Waiting for the cows to come home: Origin of idioms

Photo by Stijn te Strake on Unsplash

It seems that I have to wait for the cows to come home to get paid by some of my clients. In one instance, I have been waiting for more than four months for an invoice to be paid. Each time I phone to enquire about the status of the payment I am fobbed off with lies that equate to “the cheque is in the mail”.

Modern World

Although the world has modernised to include the option of electronic payments, the lie can be just as glib. “I’ll send you proof of payment.” When no such thing shows up in your email, you realise you have been taken for a fool for yet another month, with false promises such as “at the end of the month”, “on our next pay run” , “definitely by Friday” – I have heard them all, and four months later I am tempted to take the legal route. Really, it is ridiculous. The companies still run month to month don’t they? The full-time staff still get paid, don’t they? But when it comes to paying freelancers, there is every excuse in the book not to.

So, I sit back and wait impatiently for the cows to come home.

Lapse in time

This idiom suggests “an indefinite period of time”, a “lapse of time with no definite end”. History informs us that the idiom has its origins as early as the 16th century. Cows enjoy a stroll and once in the fields they are satisfied to roam aimlessly with no intention of returning to their milking stables – i.e. a long but indefinite time.

Although there is comfort among fellow freelancers who suffer the same ill-treatment, four months is beyond my patience threshold, and  I have threatened legal action. Since I made this threat, I’ve received a phone call to say, “I’ll send proof of payment”.

Will the cows be home soon?

Would you like to improve your English? click her for English courses

Doggerel: How words originate

Take the log out of your eye and other idioms

Three sheets to the wind: How idioms originate

 

mattis consectetur commodo odio lectus dolor accumsan tempus libero