Category: write better English

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

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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.

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?

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Doggerel: How words originate

Take the log out of your eye and other idioms

Three sheets to the wind: How idioms originate

 

Black Friday and bargain idioms

Madness

When Game of Thrones captured the imagination of millions of fans to an obsessive degree, I used to say, “You get two kinds of people – those who watch Game of Thrones and those who do not.” I was in the ‘do not’ camp.

You’re never too young to write a book

There’s a book in everyone, so the saying goes. And in some there are more than one – think of all the Jodi Picoult and Nora Roberts, John Grisham and Cathy Kelly novels out there, for example.

Whether you have one or many, the point here is that you’re never too young to write a book. This has been proved by a talented writer under the age of 10.

Wise up to words on your web in 2020

It’s often said that owning a website is like having your own piece of online real estate. Who wouldn’t want that? A no-brainer. But statistics show that many small business owners are not there yet or have little or no intention of getting there. And that’s not wise. If you’re in business at all you need a website.

Take the log out of your eye and other idioms

Last night while watching Come Dine With Me, I latched on to satirist David Lamb’s shortening of an idiom. He simply used the two words of comparison and said, pot/ kettle Terence, to suggest he had a blind spot.

Three sheets to the wind: How idioms originate

Last week I had mentioned to my sister that I saw my aunt at a function and she was three sheets to the wind. This meant I could not give her the important message. My sister looked at me in despair and said she did not know what that meant.

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