Counting sheep

In yesterday evening’s CAE Complete class we were on a bit of a word formation frenzy.  When looking at suffixes that make words into verbs a student pointed out that -ish is one such suffix, exemplifying the case with the verb flourish.  More examples?…hmmm.  At that moment my brain became void of all words.  However, the brain is an infuriating beast and at 5am the examples started to flow.

So let’s start with NOURISH, a rhyming pal to FLOURISH.  From there we go to GARNISH, which shares a link to food and from there we go to VARNISH.  If the R disappears, we are left with VANISH.  From there we make a leap to the fancy ADMONISH, despite scolding myself for not thinking of BAAANISH earlier.

By now, I am not just counting sheep, I am counting sheep who have taken on the quality of their verb.  Surreal.  I try and distract myself, but end up thinking about formal letter writing (as you do) and one of my favourite phrases: I would RELISH the opportunity… (to go back to sleep.)  I love this last example because of its positivity, its keeness, and in spite of my yawn, I smile.  And ping! CHERISH.  Now there’s another beautiful word.  Yet alas the sublime cannot last forever!  All good things must come to an end, so I rounded up my counting of sheep with PERISH.

As an extension to this, it would be interesting to look at the other forms of these verbs.

Also bonus points for anyone who can explain the meaning of the adjestive SHEEPISH.


“Time is free, but it’s priceless.” – Harvey Mackay

We could all sometimes do with having a little extra time sometimes.  It’s something we run out of, something we waste, and from time to time we even kill it.  However, we are in control of our time so we need to organise it to get the best out of it.

There are a plethora of expressions related to time in English.  Some of them appear in previous posts.  Have you clocked them yet?  If not, it’s high time you did.

Make time for time

A timely piece

Here you will also find some other time expressions in picture form, something which can be really useful to memorise them.

Thank you to my sister and her snazzy, yet motivational, clock!

Here to lend a hand…

There are an abundance (or a list as long as your arm) of English idioms related to body parts so let’s let our hair down and get the party started…

I hope you are all ears.  No, this isn’t some strange new disease, but an expression which means to pay avid attention.  Many people complain that these days we pay more attention to electronic devices than we do to real people.  These devices usually cost an arm and a leg; they are by no means cheap.  The age at which children should have a mobile phone is also a pexels-photo-349388bone of contention; a lot of people don’t see eye to eye over the issue.


What do you think? I hope it’s not the case that the cat’s got your tongue!

Learning to love conditionals unconditionally

So once we get into the advanced realms of the English language we get into the ring with the more complex of its many quirks, namely the use of inversion as a replacement for our trusted friend ‘if’.  For most, inversion itself shouldn’t be a new contender.  However,  you may have previously only come into contact with it in negatives.  Here is a link to a fantastic website  to practise that specific area.

The issue with inversion in conditionals is that it doesn’t follow exactly the same rules. Why not? Because it’s English. Continue reading

One for the books

Yesterday was World Book Day so it’s an opportune moment to take a look at some expressions related to the word ‘book’.  Whether you are a bookworm, who loves reading for pleasure, or whether you have to hit the books to revise for some exams, take a minute to check out the following expressions and you’ll be in my good books.




  • Never judge a book by its cover– Never judge on appearances.
  • Take a leaf out of —-‘s book– Try and behave like the person in question.

Continue reading