Three words that will save your life on the telephone

Telephone conversations can be challenging, or even terrifying, if English is not your first or second language.

Many of you know the scenario. You are working comfortably at your desk. Bleep bleep, the telephone rings. The line is not very clear, the speaker has had four double expressos and English words are being fired at you at 155 kmph. But the rapid fire is not the cause of rising panic. It’s the accent. It’s so alien and thick that you’re finding it difficult to understand every third word.





Don’t panic. Just calmly reply: One moment please…”, and 99 times out of 100, the person on the line will reply: “Of course”

One moment please is an expression that can save your life on the telephone.


Gently put the phone down on the desk.

And breathe…

And breathe again.



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One moment please is a golden phrase for the telephone. It buys you time. You can use this time to remember your telephone language (see below) and prepare your response.

Yes, how can I help you? Yes, Can I help you?


When you don’t understand

I am sorry could you speak slowly please?

Can you repeat that please?

I’m sorry, I didn’t catch that.

Did you say Tuesday or Thursday?

If I understand correctly, you would like to speak to the marketing director?

If I understand correctly, you would like to cancel your appointment on Friday?


Taking messages

I’m afraid Sarah is in a meeting. Can I give her a message?

Can I take a message?

Would you like to leave a message?

Can I have your name please?

Your number?

And your email address please?

Would you like to ring back after lunch?

Would you like her direct number?

Can you spell that please?


Check spelling and email addresses

How do you spell that?

Did you say M-I-K-A-E ..?

Is that E-for-elephant?

So that’s Mikaelia –  M-I-K-A-E-L-I-A…?

So that’s Monday, June 5 at 3.30pm in your office?

So that’s George Wilkins…  W- I – L – K – I – N – S?

 And your email address is [email protected] 

So that’s G dot Wilkins – Wilkins -W-I-L-K-I-N-S at greencables (all one word) – G-R-E-E-N-C-A-B-L-E-S dot ch


Final check before you end the conversation

If necessary, make a final check at the end of the conversation. Just repeat the important facts.

You: Thanks for your call. I will ask Susanne call you on 079 533 72 98 or she can email you at [email protected] – that’s Mikaelia –  capital M-I-K-A-E-L-I-A dot Hobson capital H-O-B-S-O-N at greencables  – all one word – G-R-E-E-N-C-A-B-L-E-S dot CH.

Mikaelia: Great. Thank you.


You: Thanks for your call. I will ask Susan to call you back this afternoon between 3 and 4.30pm.

Your name is Rafael – that’s Rafael with a F, NOUNCI – N-O-U-N-C-I and you are calling from Cisco Systems -that’s Cisco – C-I-S-C-O Systems.

Rafael: Correct. Thanks


And breathe. Good job!


to buy time: delay an event temporarily so as to have longer to improve one’s own position.

The police kept the gunman talking to buy time for the hostages.

French: gagner du temps

rapid fire: to speak very quickly or shoot bullets very quickly


Liverpool: In your darkest moments, you’ll never walk alone

Love it or hate it, football, especially English football, is often the stuff of fairy tales.

It’s a potent mix of tribal passion, tragedy and surrealism. UK premiership football has history. It is a mirror, stained and cracked, that reflects the trials and tribulations of generations where football is not just football. The round ball is life.

In 2016 we witnessed the magical tale of Leicester City Football Club and the re-internment of the bones of King Richard III dug up under a city car-park – read more here.

The story of Liverpool’s 2020 premiership is a grittier and darker story of redemption, exemplified in the haunting club song, You will never walk alone. It’s an anthem of sufferance and hope that transcends the brilliance of King Salah of Egypt, the Dutch centre-half poet, Virgil van Dijk, the goal scorer from Bambali, Senegal, Sadio Mané, and of course, the mastermind with the finest brain and teeth in modern football, Jürgen Klopp from the small Black Forest village of Glatten.

As Klopp says:

It’s the most beautiful song in the world. Everybody feels it, everybody loves it.



When you walk through a storm
Hold your head up high
And don’t be afraid of the dark

At the end of a storm
There’s a golden sky
And the sweet silver song of a lark

Walk on through the wind
Walk on through the rain
Though your dreams be tossed and blown

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone

Walk on, walk on
With hope in your heart
And you’ll never walk alone

You’ll never walk alone


Klopp and the Kop are of the same family. The Kop is the name of the famous steep stand at Anfield, the Liverpool home ground. It is said the Kop army of 50,000 supporters in full voice can suck the ball into goal.

Pink Floyd recorded the Kop in the last two minutes of their song Fearless from the album Meddle released in 1971.



But why the name Kop? In 1900, during the Boer War in South Africa, the British Army fought to capture a hilltop, and 300 men died, most of whom were from Lancashire and many from Liverpool itself. The name of the hill was Spion Kop.


A greater tragedy, arguably the greatest stain

on modern football, justice and

journalism in the history of the UK,

was to come later


A greater tragedy, arguably the greatest stain on modern football, justice and journalism in the history of the UK, and I do not exaggerate, was to come later.

The Hillsborough disaster was a fatal human crush (mouvement de foule fatal) that claimed the lives of 96 Liverpool supporters, men, women and children at the Hillsborough Stadium in a match between Liverpool and Nottingham Forest on April 15 1989.  Four hundred were taken to hospital.



The investigations, court cases and public inquiries continued right up to last year. We now know that it was a police mistake that led to the crush. We also know that the police lied repeatedly, doctored documents and, with heinous intent, shifted blame onto the supporters.

The lies were lapped up by the Murdoch tabloid, The Sun, which produced this shameful front page the following day:



It was not the truth. It was LIES. Pure tabloid gutter journalism, from the stable of the Murdoch media.

The newspaper ran claims from anonymous police officers that, as people were dying at Hillsborough, their fellow supporters stole from them, urinated on police officers and beat up “brave cops” trying to help.


It was not the truth. It was LIES.

Pure tabloid gutter journalism,

from the stable of the Murdoch media


It took 15 years before The Sun finally offered an apology. It read in part:

The Sun’s reporting of the Hillsborough tragedy 23 years ago is without doubt the blackest day in this newspaper’s history. The Hillsborough Independent Panel’s report into the disaster lays bare the disgraceful attempt by South Yorkshire Police to hide their culpability behind a smokescreen of lies. It highlights a concerted campaign by senior officers to smear the innocent by fabricating lurid allegations about Liverpool fans — and then feeding them to the media.

But it is to the eternal discredit of The Sun that we reported as fact this misinformation which tarnished the reputation of Liverpool fans including the 96 victims. Today we unreservedly apologise to the Hillsborough victims, their families, Liverpool supporters, the city of Liverpool and all our readers for that misjudgment.

Even today, few people buy The Sun in Liverpool.

In 2016, some 27 years after the disaster, a further inquiry finally ruled that the 96 people were killed unlawfully and the actions of police were the principal cause of the disaster. It also refuted all of the scandalous claims made in The Sun. No-one has been found guilty.


This was the scene in Liverpool on April 15 this year – the 31st anniversary of Hillsborough.




On the one hand… on the other hand

(Language that is theatrical and powerful)

Level: B1+

Italian is a language that we can both hear and see. English, on the other hand, is shy when it comes to painting pictures in the air with your hands, fingers, shoulders and face.

However, there are a few expressions to liberate the Italian in you and make your English more visual, theatrical and powerful.

On the one hand… and on the other hand, is used to contrast two opinions about a subject; one usually positive and one usually negative. We use our hands to reinforce our spoken language. We hold out one hand, palm up when we say on the one hand and then the other hand palm up when we say on the other hand.

On the one hand, he’s the best man for the job, but on the other hand, he’s often late for meetings.

On the one hand, expansion would be profitable, but on the other hand, we’ll be working much longer hours and under greater stress.

On the one hand, it’s a high-paying job doing what I’ve always wanted to do. But on the other hand, I’d have to move halfway around the world, far from all my friends and family.

 On the one hand, the UK is a full of history and interesting places, but on the other hand, the weather can be really depressing, especially this time of the year.


Practise the above examples in front of a mirror or better still with your teacher. You’ll soon be a natural.



The palm of your hand is the inner surface of the hand between the wrist and the fingers.

My mother is a palm reader. She can read your future by looking at the lines on your palms.


The Fortune Teller, by Caravaggio


Expressions with the word HAND

  • To experience something first-hand. It has happened to you.

You have no idea how challenging it is to be a parent until you experience it first-hand

  • I’ve got my hands full at the moment. I am too busy.

I’m sorry I’m not available. I have my hands full with the monthly salaries for the next few hours.

  • Can you give/lend me a hand? I need some help.

I can’t carry three bags. Can you give me a hand?

  • My hands are tied. I can’t do anything.

The decision came from head office. My hands are tied. I can’t do anything about it.

  • I wash my hands of this situation. You’ll have to find a solution by yourself.

I’ve done all I can. I wash my hands of the situation. You’ll have to solve it yourself.

  • That’s handy. Really practical.

That’s a great app. Really useful. It’s really handy for organising our time.

  • Tarzan knows the jungle like the back of his hand. He knows it extremely well.

Speak to John. He studied Calvin at university. He knows Calvin like the back of his hand.

  • Do you like my coat? I bought it second hand at Hazard. It is not new. It used to belong to someone else.

It’s not new. It’s second hand, but in excellent condition.

  • Is it true? I only heard the news second hand. Somebody told someone else, who told me.

 I wasn’t sure if it was true. I didn’t receive the memo from HR. I heard it second hand.

  • This dress is a hand-me-down. It belonged to my older sister.

I don’t buy many new clothes for Sean. He wears his big brother’s hand-me-downs.

  • His drinking problem has got out of hand. It cannot be controlled. He’s probably going to lose his job and his family.

This problem has got out of hand. It might soon be a disaster.

  • You are in good hands at The Language House

It’s a great school. They will look after you. You’ll be in good hands.


We’ll meet again, don’t know where, don’t know when, but I know we’ll meet again some sunny day…

The singer behind one of the most iconic and moving war songs of the 20th century has died in the UK, aged 103.

We’ll Meet Again, sung by Vera Lynn, became an anthem of hope and resilience during the Second World War.



The singer and the song were poignantly referenced in the Pink Floyd concept album The Wall.



The song was also used in the final devastating scene of Stanley Kubrick’s black masterpiece Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.

Vera Lynn was known as the (armed) forces’ sweetheart.

She was born Vera Margaret Welch on 20 March 1917 in the London suburb of East Ham. She was the daughter of a plumber. She toured the war zones singing to soldiers in Burma, Egypt and India. She also performed for people sheltering from bombing raids in the stations of London’s underground.

The song was recorded in 1929 and Lynn later starred in the film of the same name.

Vera Lynn was appointed a Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1975.

In September 2009 Dame Vera Lynn became the oldest living artist, at the age 92, to have a number 1 album on the UK album chart, with her collection We’ll Meet Again: the Very Best of Vera Lynn.

Read more here from the BBC

Let’s say goodbye with a smile, dear
Just for a while, dear
We must part
Don’t let this parting upset you
I’ll not forget you, sweetheart

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day
Keep smiling through
Just like you always do
‘Till the blue skies drive the dark clouds far away
So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singing this song
We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day…

So will you please say hello
To the folks that I know
Tell them I won’t be long
They’ll be happy to know
That as you saw me go
I was singin’ this song

We’ll meet again
Don’t know where
Don’t know when
But I know we’ll meet again some sunny day

Source: LyricFind


The zombies are coming. Who are these flesh-eating superstars of pop culture?

(English reading and vocabulary related to zombies in history and popular culture)

Level: B2 to C1

By Benedicte Gravrand, English trainer at The Language House, Genève


Zombies are not your friends. They are the awakened dead who have an enormous appetite for human flesh – or human brains, depending on the story. They don’t look good either: they have rotting flesh, missing limbs, and really dirty underwear. They don’t speak, they grunt. They don’t think much either – so don’t try to convince them they need a change of lifestyle. Not all zombies are the reawakened dead (or undead); some are people who have been bitten or scratched – and infected – by a zombie while walking down the street to get their Sunday newspaper.

But zombies have one thing going for them: they make for great stories.

(Check the meaning of the words in bold. See exercise below)


A bit of zombie history


The Ancient Greeks were possibly the first civilization to be afraid of the undead. Archaeologists have found many ancient graves in Greece in which the skeletons had rocks and other heavy objects on top of them, probably to prevent them from re-awakening.

Some say that stories in the Bible of dead people being resurrected may have also inspired zombie myths.

But the real birthplace of the zombie myth is Haiti, in the Caribbean.

It might have started in the 17th century when West African slaves were brought in to work on the sugar cane plantations. The West Africans took with them their religion, called voodoo.

Voodoo is practiced today in Haiti and the Caribbean, Brazil, the American South, and other places. In general, people who follow the voodoo religion do not believe in zombies. Some, however, do. They believe people can be revived as zombies by a voodoo practitioner called a bokor. Bokors practice the art of necromancy by creating a “zombie powder”, made of herbs, shells, bones, animals and other ingredients. Any zombie created by the bokor is his slave.


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During the time of slavery on the cotton plantations in the USA, slave drivers, who were usually slaves themselves and sometimes voodoo priests, used the fear of zombification to discourage slaves from committing suicide. Life was indeed brutal then.

The zombie powder contains tetrodotoxin, a poisonous neurotoxin found in marine species. To humans who ingest small quantities, the powder “may cause zombie-like symptoms such as difficulty walking, mental confusion and respiratory problems,” says High doses can lead to paralysis and coma. When that happens, the person who took a high dose of zombie powder may appear dead to others – and is then buried alive, only to re-awake later. Apparently, several such occurrences have been documented in medical journals.

In Haitian folklore, a zombie is a dead body reanimated through magic.

But in modern folklore, zombies are created through viruses, radiation, madness, parasites… you name it.





Zombies are cinema super stars


Zombies have become big stars in pop culture. They became famous with the 1968 film Night of the Living Dead, by film director George Romero, who did two more zombie films after that; Dawn of the Dead and Day of the Dead. You can say he started the zombie cult. He once said: “A zombie film is not fun without a bunch of stupid people running around and observing how they fail to handle the situation.”

Among the many zombie movies, my favourites are the comedy types, such as Shaun of the Dead starring Simon Peg (famous quote: “You’ve got red on you”), and Zombieland. Among the more dramatic movies are 28 Days Later and I am Legend.

Zombies have also invaded television, with series such as iZombie, where zombies can be your friends, and The Walking Dead, a post-apocalyptic story filled with horrid flesh-eaters and a few highly stressed survivors – and where the word “zombie” is never used (here’s why). There’s this famous quote from the series that sums up the survivors’ puzzlement: “Christ promised a resurrection of the dead, I just thought he had something a little different in mind”.

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War might just be the best book on zombies. This zombie apocalyptic horror novel, written by American author Max Brooks, was the inspiration for the film World War Z (for the record: the book is much better). It is a collection of individual stories following a global zombie plague. It describes different ways of survivals as well as the social, political, religious, economic, and environmental changes resulting from the plague.

Zombies, due to their dangerous and infectious nature, are the vehicle to such interesting scenarios that they could remain big stars in pop culture for decades to come.

According to Angela Becerra Vidergar, a Stanford professor, we started our fascination with zombies after World War II and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. These large-scale disasters influenced stories about mass-scale deaths and the survival of the fittest.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) even created a “Zombie Preparedness” website to motivate people to prepare for disasters.

Finally, just in case you were wondering, zombies can only be killed if you destroy their head, somehow.

And if you are getting married soon – and you are very afraid of zombies, you could change your marriage vows to: “To have and to hold, in sickness and in health, unless you become a zombie – then I promise to shoot you in the head.”

Meaning, if you stop being a human being and become a humanoid beast with a lizard brain and great blood lust… well, that will change our story completely.


Sources:  Wikipedia


Check your zombie vocabulary:

Match the words with their definitions.

  1. Awakened
  2. Flesh
  3. Rotten
  4. Grunt
  5. Bite (p.p. bitten)
  6. Scratch
  7. Slave

a. to make a short low sound in your throat and nose at the same time

b. to cut someone’s skin slightly with something sharp

c. someone who belongs by law to another person as their property and has to obey them and work for them

d. the soft part of people’s or animals’ bodies that consists mostly of muscle and fat

e. to use your teeth to cut or break something, usually in order to eat it

f. something that is rotten has decayed: rotten eggs/fruit/teeth

g. to make someone become conscious, or in this case, alive again



Answer key

1:g  –  2:d  –  3:f  –  4:a  –  5:e  –  6:b  –  7:c



  1. Necromancy
  2. Shell
  3. Species
  4. Occurrence
  5. You name it (phrase)
  6. Popular culture (or pop culture)
  7. bunch

h. the hard outer part that protects the body of a sea creature

i. used after a list for saying that most other things of the same type are also possible or available

j. the practice of communicating with dead people

k. a group of people

l. something that happens, especially something unexpected and unpleasant

m. a plant or animal group whose members all have similar general features and are able to produce young plants or animals together

n. the types of entertainment that most people in a society enjoy, for example films, television programmes, and popular music



Answer key

8:j  –  9:h  –  10:m  –  11:l  –  12:i  –  13:n  –  14:k



  1. Fail
  2. Handle (v.)
  3. Plague
  4. Large-scale
  5. Survival of the fittest
  6. To have something in mind (phrase)
  7. For the record (phrase)
  8. Have something going for you

o. the idea that your survival depends on competing successfully within your environment with other creatures of your own type

p. involving a large number of people or things, or happening over a large area

q. to be unsuccessful when you try to do something

r. to know the type of thing that you want for a particular purpose: What kind of house did you have in mind?

s. any serious disease that spreads quickly to a lot of people and usually ends in death

t. used for giving a piece of information that you want people to know

u. to take action in order to deal with a difficult situation

v. if a person or thing has something going for them, they have an advantage, skill, or other positive quality



Answer key

15:q  –  16:u  –  17:s  –  18:p  –  19:o  –  20:r  –  21:t  –  22:v







Uses of the word ZOMBIE in the English language


You can use the word “zombie” to describe a weird, stupid or very tired person, e.g. I feel like such a zombie. Maybe I’m not eating right.

You can also use the word zombie to describe a company that earns just enough money to continue operating and service debt but is unable to pay off its debt. Zombie companies are also known as the “living dead” or “zombie stocks.”




What is your favourite zombie movie and why?

Please leave your answer in the Commentaire section below.


Top ten best zombie movies:


Life on Mars? From Cloclo to Frank Sinatra to Ziggy

I’ve got a song stuck in my head. It pings around my neurons and exits in whistle, song and hum from dusk to dawn. On repeat play.

You probably know the song, if you like your dogs with diamonds, know an astronaut called Major Tom, or like a little stardust…

Here are the first four lines of the song:

It’s a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling no
And her daddy has told her to go

The song is called Life on Mars?, written and sung by David Bowie. Bowie said that the melody and riff came to him on a bus after a sunny, druggy day in a park in London.

One journalist later wrote that Bowie “saw the Cosmos in a bus-stop”.

Another UK journalist ranked it the greatest song of all time. He wrote:

 A quite gloriously strange anthem, where the combination of stirring, yearning melody and vivid, poetic imagery manage a trick very particular to the art of the song: to be at once completely impenetrable and yet resonant with personal meaning. You want to raise your voice and sing along, yet Bowie’s abstract cut-up lyrics force you to invest the song with something of yourself just to make sense of the experience. And, like all great songs, it’s got a lovely tune.

It does have a lovely tune and you do want to sing along. The problem is that for the last week or two,  I can’t get it out of my head to quote Electric Light Orchestra. The song is Always on my mind, as the Pet Shop Boys might say.

The origins of Life on Mars? can be traced back to France, a few years before Bowie’s sunny druggy bus day.  It all began with the pop megastar Cloclo, (Claude François) who put the glow-glow into the hearts of the French during the 60s and 70s before tragically electrocuting himself in the shower.

One of his many tubes (hits) was Comme d’habitude (co-written by Jacques Revaux) released in 1967 and based on his break-up with fellow French singer France Gall.



A year later the music landed on the desk of an unknown UK singer songwriter named David Jones, who had recently changed his name to David Bowie. (His first extra-terrestrial hit, Space Oddity which would open his fame stargate was still two years away).

Among the jobs that kept Bowie in fags, food and mascara was writing English lyrics to hit songs from continental Europe. Comme d’habitude, became Even a Fool Learns to Love (Même un imbécile apprend à aimer). Bowie later admitted the music was great, but his lyrics were shite. It was never released.

In 1969, an astonished Bowie heard the song on the radio. Same music, but with lyrics written by Paul Anka. And the voice…aaaah, it was unmistakable. It was Frank Sinatra, and Comme d’habitude was now My Way, a timeless anthem and a funeral favourite, and one of the most successful songs in the history of popular music.

My Way set records which still stand today; 122 weeks in the top 50 between April 1969 and January 1972, 75 weeks in the top 40. Even the Sex Pistols did a cover (listen and watch below).

A peeved and pissed Bowie decided to write a revenge song which he called Life on Mars? It was first released on Bowie’s 1971 album Hunky Dory and later released in 1973 as a single. On the album cover notes (below) he wrote: ‘inspired by Frankie’ next to track number 4.



The songs share some of the same chords and structure, but the subject matter couldn’t be more different. My Way is a self-assured celebration of a life lived with little or no regrets. Angst, disappointment and a strange hope lie at the heart of Life of Mars?



In 2008, Bowie recalled writing this song to the Mail on Sunday:

This song was so easy. Being young was easy. A really beautiful day in the park, sitting on the steps of the bandstand. ‘Sailors bap-bap-bap-bap-baaa-bap.’ An anomic heroine. Middle-class ecstasy. I took a walk to Beckenham High Street to catch a bus to Lewisham to buy shoes and shirts but couldn’t get the riff out of my head. Jumped off two stops into the ride and more or less loped back to the house up on Southend Road. Workspace was a big empty room with a chaise lounge; a bargain-price art nouveau screen (‘William Morris,’ so I told anyone who asked); a huge overflowing freestanding ashtray and a grand piano. Little else. I started working it out on the piano and had the whole lyric and melody finished by late afternoon. Nice. Rick Wakeman [soon to join the prog rock band Yes] came over a couple of weeks later and embellished the piano part and guitarist Mick Ronson created one of his first and best string parts for this song which now has become something of a fixture in my live shows.

Wakeman recalled the afternoon in an interview (see video below) after Bowie’s death.

“I remember coming home and telling a few friends in the pub that I had just worked on the best song that I had ever had the privilege of working on…”



So, what does the song mean?

It tells the story of a girl who seeks escape in cinema, only to realise the same sad and boring cliches are played out on the screen. It is a song of disaffection and yearning for truths, but it is strangely positive, despite that Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow and the lawman beating up the wrong man.

Can we do better? There must be a better life somewhere. Is there life on mars?


It’s a God-awful small affair
To the girl with the mousy hair
But her mummy is yelling no
And her daddy has told her to go

But her friend is nowhere to be seen
Now she walks through her sunken dream
To the seat with the clearest view
And she’s hooked to the silver screen

But the film is a saddening bore
For she’s lived it ten times or more
She could spit in the eyes of fools
As they ask her to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?

It’s on America’s tortured brow
That Mickey Mouse has grown up a cow
Now the workers have struck for fame
‘Cause Lennon’s on sale again
See the mice in their million hordes
From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads
Rule Britannia is out of bounds
To my mother, my dog, and clowns

But the film is a saddening bore
‘Cause I wrote it ten times or more
It’s about to be writ again
As I ask you to focus on

Sailors fighting in the dance hall
Oh man, look at those cavemen go
It’s the freakiest show
Take a look at the lawman
Beating up the wrong guy
Oh man, wonder if he’ll ever know
He’s in the best selling show
Is there life on Mars?


Bowie talks to Michael Parkinson about Life on Mars. (Forward to 20:55)



This is the Sex Pistols version of My Way:



And here’s Aurora’s version of Life on Mars?:



I hear what you are saying, BUT…

Giving your opinion…

(Giving your opinion B1+)


Giving an opinion can be quite easy. Simple expressions are:

I agree or I disagree, or I don’t agree (NOT I am agree).

I totally agree with you George.

I disagree. I don’t think it is a good idea.


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Simple options to introduce your opinion are:

I think / I believe / In my opinion / Personally, I feel…

I think plan A is great.

In my opinion, plan B is the best option.

Personally, I feel/think/believe that plan C would be better.


I agree with George, but…


However, when we give our opinion, we must be careful that we do not sound too cold and insensitive. And we often also need to give more subtle and nuanced replies.

We can partially agree or agree to some extent, and totally agree and completely disagree

This is where the famous BUT comes into play.

I agree with your George, but I am not sure about the pricing.

I think the idea is great, but I am not sure about the timeline.

The British are the masters of the BUT. How does it work?

The first sentence is a mini-compliment, but when we hear the BUT we know something less complimentary (negative) is coming.

I see what you mean (I understand what you are saying), but I don’t think we have the people to do it.

 I think that’s a good point, but it’s not really our decision.

The BUT quickly changes the meaning.


That’s a good idea.

That’s a good idea, but there is no way the marketing team will agree.

A lot of the language used in giving your opinion is coded. It can drastically change meaning depending on the tone and intonation of the speaker.

Let’s look at the expression: I hear what you say

You might think it means I understand you. In fact, the expression is coded.
For a native English speaker, I hear what you say, means I understand what you are saying, but I don’t agree with you… because nine times out of 10 it is followed by that word but…

I hear what you say, but unfortunately the deadline cannot be extended.

A similar expression is: I see what you mean

Once again, you can say this if you understand why somebody thinks something, but you probably do not agree.

Alain: We can’t force her to leave him. It’s her decision.

Beatrice:”I see what you mean, but we’ve got to do something. We can’t let him treat her like that.

Senior trainer at The Language House Sian Tobin, who is from the UK, had this to say:

A British person is unlikely to ever say ´I disagree with you’ or ´I don’t agree’. We will mostly employ ‘I’m not sure about that’ , which means ‘I am 100% unsure, I’m just too polite to say it directly’. In a business meeting you might hear someone say: ´I would challenge that idea’. Translation: ‘I think you are 100% wrong.

Sian says (tongue in cheek) Brits strive for diplomacy at all times, ‘whilst secretly expressing that we are 100% right, 100% of the time‘.


Mmmm… interesting, but…


Then there is the word the word interesting.

Interesting can mean a lot of different things.

Depending on the tone and intonation, interesting could mean anything from very positive –  “Yes that’s got potential” to extremely negative – “What a stupid idea”.

Nine times out of 10, sorry to say, it has a definite negative meaning. It is often used as a polite reaction to say thank you for your input, BUT it’s not particularly interesting or relevant.

English speakers use it in many different situations especially when they can’t think of anything else to say. The tone of voice will show the listener whether its positive or negative. Better to use it when you are genuinely interested.

“That’s interesting!”

But, more often that not, you will hear:

Mmmm… interesting. Maybe we can talk about that in the next meeting. (Coded meaning: It is not relevant, and this is the not the right place or time).

Interesting… it might be worth a look. (Coded meaning: It’s very low priority)


Exercise 1: Match the phrases A – E with the phrases 1- 5 below:

(In cases more than one response is possible)

a. That’s a great idea!

b. I hear what you are saying,

c.Now, that’s really interesting!

d. Mmmm.. interesting,

e. Do you agree?


  1. I’ll ask George to start work on it right away.
  2. We definitely should do that.
  3. but I don’t think she will agree.
  4. but there is no way we can afford it.
  5. Yes, to a certain extent.



a: 1 or 2     b: 3 or 4     c: 1 or 2      d: 3 or 4     e: 5


Exercise 2:  Giving your opinion

Meeting to decide on re-opening English school after the coronavirus.

Present: Susan (trainer), Mary (director of studies), John (trainer).

Put the following expressions in the right space in the exercise below. The first two have been done for you.

  • I totally agree
  • That’s a great idea! In my opinion
  • I think
  • Interesting… BUT
  • I see what you mean Susan, BUT
  • On the one hand,
  • BUT, on the other hand
  • I agree
  • we all agree on
  • I agree 100 per cent.
  • I agree to a certain extent



Susan: (a) Personally, I think all students and teacher must wear face-masks when we reopen.

Mary: (b) I hear what you are saying, BUT it’s impossible to learn a language if your mouth is covered.

Susan: Yes, I suppose you are right. But we must be safe.

John; Yes, (c)…………………………. with Mary. We have to come up with another alternative to make students safe.

Mary: What about putting transparent screens in the classrooms to separate the teacher and students?

John: (d) Yes! ………………………..this would protect both the students and teachers.

Susan: (e)…………………………… we should also ask students to bring a doctor’s certificate.

Mary: (f)……………………….that’s not practical. Not many people have had tests. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has had a test.

John: (g)………………………………………..if we ask students to wear masks and have medical certificates, I think we might as well close down the school.

(h) …………………………. we might be 100 per cent safe, (i) …………………………… we will probably have no students and no jobs.

Mary: (j) ………………. with John. So, do (k) ………………………….the screens?

John: (l) ………………………… It’s a brilliant idea!

Susan: (m) ……………………………but I still think it’s important to wear masks.

(Check your answers at the bottom of the page)

Expression to learn and use: to agree to disagree

agree to disagree – to accept that there are two different views. And stop arguing and agree to have different points of view.

After their discussion about politics intensified, Fred and Sue decided to agree to disagree before it affected their friendship.

I’m sick of arguing with you, so let’s just agree to disagree and move on.



Answers to exercise 2:

Susan: Personally, I think all students and teacher must wear masks when we reopen.

Mary: I hear what you are saying, BUT it’s impossible to learn a language if your mouth is covered.

Susan: Yes, I suppose you are right. But we have to be safe.

John; Yes I totally agree with Mary. We have to come up with another alternative to make students safe.

Mary: What about putting transparent screens in the classrooms to separate the teacher and students?

John: That’s a great idea! In my opinion this would protect both the students and teachers.

Susan: I think we should ask students to bring a doctor’s certificate.

Mary: Interesting… BUT not at all practical. Not many people have had tests. Personally, I don’t know anyone who has has a test.

John: I see what you mean Susan, BUT if we ask students to wear masks and have medical certificates I think we might as well close down the school.

On the one hand, we might be 100 per cent safe, BUT on the other hand we will probably have no students and no jobs.

Mary: I agree with John. So, do we all agree on the screens?

John: I agree 100 per cent.

Susan: I agree to a certain extent. I still think it’s important to wear masks.

You will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger

(Making predictions in English)


How to predict in English?  

(level B1-B2)

Written and compiled by Benedicte Gravrand

“You will meet a tall, dark, handsome stranger,” a fortune teller told me four months ago. This was a prediction – it was not an intention, a plan, a pre-arranged event, or a decision.

There are different ways of making predictions in English:

  1. Predictions based on evidence, or proof. We can see it coming. For example, “I see dark clouds in the sky; it is going to rain” Use “be going to” + infinitive.

Susan rang. She said she is going to be late.

If Barcelona wins this match, they are going to be the top team.


  1. Predictions based on knowledge or belief. For example, “she’ll be here in a couple of minutes,” or, “I will be rich one day.” Use “will” (or ‘ll) + infinitive verb (without “to”). It is also possible to use the continuous form: “You will be going on a long journey.”

In 1960 he told everyone: “Technology will rule the world.”

He will be here on time. He’s always punctual.


3. Future probability. For example, “we may find a vaccine this year, we may not.”

Use the model verbs “may” or “should” to express a possibility, or “might” or “could” to express weak probability (+ infinitive verb without “to”).


Subscribe now (details on the right-hand column). It will be good for your English.



Fill the gaps with “be going to” (conjugated), “will”. In some cases both answers are possible.

The first one has been done for you.

  1. Sarah is going to have another baby this summer. I have just seen her.
  2. I don’t know how, but I know things …… get better.
  3. I’m going to a party so I …… probably be home late tonight.
  4. I think they …… want to meet us before they decide.
  5. He drives too fast. He …… have an accident one of these days.
  6. I don’t feel well. I think I ……. sick.
  7. I think nobody …… never know what happened that day.
  8. “This time next year, you …… be travelling the world,” said the fortune teller.
  9. You …… never finish that book. It’s too difficult.
  10. I think Barcelona …… win. They have won their last seven matches.
  11. The economic climate is not good. Orders …… be difficult to get.
  12. It …… snow soon. We can feel it in the air.
  13. Their new house …… look over the river. That is what they have always wanted.
  14. I am seeing Jean tomorrow. I wonder if she …… recognise me.
  15. Nothing lasts forever. One day there … be no more oil.
  16. She’s very angry. She’s gone to see the boss. I think she …… resign.
  17. When …… you know his decision?
  18. There is no competition for this product. I am sure, it …… be a great success.


Answer key:

1: is going to
2: will
3: will
4: will
5: is going to
6: am going to
7: will
8: will
9: will / are never going to finish the book
10: is going to / will
11: are going to
12: is going to
13: is going to – or will
14: will
15: will
16: is going to
17: will
18: is going to / will

Sources:  Practical English Usage, Michael Swan. Market leader, Peter Strutt



 (level B2-C2)


Will somebody please tell me what the future holds?


I am anxious about my future and my family’s future. Who isn’t? I need some certainty in my life, something to hold on to.

So, I decided to consult some experts on the future: a futurist, an economist and an astrologer.

The futurist


“How do you predict the future? How should I prepare?” I ask the futurist. We are on a conference call and from what I see on my computer screen, he is a thin, greying man with intelligent black eyes. I know he is an important academic who advises governments and institutions on future risks and opportunities. He also, in his spare time, writes science fiction.

“Well,” he says, “I predict all possible futures by studying historical data and current trends. I look at the three Ps and a W: Possible, Probable, and Preferable futures – and Wildcards, that is, low-probability high-impact events. As you can guess, the current pandemic is a wildcard, aka (also known as) a ‘black swan’ event. I have been predicting a possible pandemic for several years now, and I have been stocking food and water in my garage and cash under my mattress. Ironically, I can’t use the cash now, and there’s still plenty of food and water supplies in the shops.

“Predicting the future from a black swan event is the hardest,” he continues. “I cannot tell you how to prepare for the future because right now anything is possible. We may find a vaccine this year, or next year. We may build immunity, we may not.

“Of course, there is a strong probability of increased global collaboration, more people working from home, less international travel, and a greater use of technology… for everything. However, if we may also come back to the lifestyle we had before 2020.

“Don’t think about the future,” he concludes with a smile. “Think about now. Take it one day at a time. Focus on what you can do, not on what you cannot do.” He is himself focusing on redecorating his house, he adds.

It looks like the futurist has become a stoic philosopher. I thank him and switch off the Zoom call. I have not learnt much from this conversation for I already suspected I might have to work from home and travel less in the near future – and maybe also in the far future. And when we’ll find an acceptable vaccine is anyone’s guess. As for what I can do for the future… is use a bicycle, instead of a car (too polluting) or public transports (great for transmitting viruses).

So far, I am not closer to having any certainty about the future.


The economist



Now I do understand that economists are not exactly known for their precise forecasts (a forecasts is statement about what is likely to happen based on available information). They get it wrong more often than not. But a few had predicted the great financial crisis of 2008, for example, and 1929, and 2001… So maybe economists can help me, even a little.

I am going to talk to one who does not have strong convictions but, instead, a balanced view. She is a middle-aged American with impeccable hair and gold-rimmed eye-glasses, and she is often interviewed on financial TV channels.

“Could you share with me the possible economic futures that you see. I need to know more about my home and my job,” I tell her over a Skype call.

“Well,” she says, “the world economy could shrink from as little as -0.7% to as much as -7% this year. It could be anything from a minor inconvenience to an economic ice age.”

“What are the recovery scenarios?” I ask.

“The best one is an economic fall followed by a strong recovery, with the help and fiscal and monetary stimuli around the world. This is what we all a V-shaped recovery.

“Then there is the U-shaped recovery, like in 2008-09, where economies will take some time to recover, this time because social distancing will affect many industries.

“And there is the W-shaped recovery, where the economies will restart immediately after the end of the lockdowns, but high levels of unemployment and corporate bankruptcies – or a new wave of the pandemic – will eventually bring the economy down again.

“Finally, the L-shaped recovery is a scenario where the global economy does not recover, or takes a very long time to recover, maybe because there isn’t enough stimulus or the virus does not go away.

“Europe, where you are based, has a good chance of some kind of recovery, as there are many programs in place. But I can’t tell you if you should sell your home or if you’ll have a job next month. There are so many variables. All essential jobs – food production and supplies, security and police, medical professions, truck drivers, teachers, utility workers (power, water, phone and internet services, waste disposal…) are in general recession proof. Engineers, firefighters and morticians may do well too.

“As for real estate,” she adds. “It’s anyone’s guess. Some people will not sell their home because real estate has lost value, some people will sell their home because they have lost their job…” She adds she feels lucky because she has a lot of savings, no debt, and a house that is all hers.

I thank her for her broad perspective and switch off the call. I am now sitting in front of a blank computer screen, and a blank economic forecast. I still don’t have any certainty about my economic future.


The astrologer



The astrologer I have been recommended looks like an artist, with long curly hair, a flowery dress, big shiny eyes and a wide smile. I am told that while astrology is not a science, it is an deep study of the movements of the planets in the solar system and their synchronicity with events on earth.

Some astrologers predicted that in February and March 2020, when Mars joins Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn, this could result in something big in the world. But most did not predict the pandemic.

“What can you see in my future?” I ask her.

“The conjunction of Jupiter, Saturn and Pluto in Capricorn will trine your moon in Taurus and it will be rather easy for you. But at the same time, as Uranus is in Taurus and conjunct your moon, it could be very hard.”


“It means,” she says with an even bigger smile, “that 2020 will be both an opportunity and a challenge for you. How you come out on the other side of the crisis depends entirely on your attitude and your actions.” Keep calm and carry on, she concludes.

I am happy she is paid by the minute, because she told me everything I needed to know in a very short time. I switch off FaceTime after thanking her.  Again, I have a confirmation of what I already suspected. I am privileged in that I can survive during a lockdown, but not enough to guarantee that the rest of the year will be plain sailing.

I am not sure anyone can tell me what the future holds. I need it, but I am not going to get it. Maybe I should focus on something else. Maybe I’ll study history.


Main sources: Wikipedia  Quartz  ABC News  WEF  Urban Survival  Jessica Adams


Check your vocabulary


  1. real estate
  2. boost
  3. hold on to
  4. spare time
  5. data
  6. trend


  1. a gradual change or development that produces a particular result
  2. to hold something tightly or carefully so that you do not drop it or do not fall
  3. facts or information used for making calculations or decisions: can be followed by a plural verb in scientific English, in which case the singular is datum
  4. land and the buildings on it
  5. to help something to increase, improve, or become more successful
  6. time when you do not have to work or study and when you can do what you like


Answer key:

1:d  –  2:e  –  3:b  – 4:f  –  5:c  – 6:a



  1. event
  2. Take it one day at a time
  3. Switch off
  4. be anyone’s guess
  5. shrink (v.)
  6. ice age


  1. if you switch off something such as a light or a machine, or if it switches off, it stops working
  2. a period of time thousands of years ago when large areas of the Earth were covered in ice
  3. used for saying that something is not known by anyone
  4. to become smaller in size
  5. To deal with some unpleasant, difficult, or undesirable situation gradually, without focusing too much on its eventual outcome.
  6. something that happens, especially something that involves several people



Answer key:

7:l  –  8:k  –  9:g  – 10:i  –  11:j  –  12:h



  1. recovery
  2. unemployment
  3. bankrupt
  4. synchronicity
  5. recession proof
  6. lockdown
  7. plain sailing


  1. a time when large numbers of people are ordered to stay at home either most or all of the time
  2. a situation in which two or more things happen at the same time and seem to be connected even if they are not
  3. a term used to describe an asset, company, industry or other entity that is believed to be economically resistant to the effects of a recession
  4. something easy to do or achieve
  5. (in this context) the process of returning to normal activity after a period of slow activity
  6. a person or business that is bankrupt has officially admitted that they have no money and cannot pay what they owe
  7. a situation in which some people do not have work and do not have an income



Answer key:

13:q  –  14:s  –  15:r  –  16:n  –  17:o  –  18:m  –  19:p



Definitions from




How do you think the coronavirus will affect the future? Is it a game changer? Or will life go back to “normal”?

What are your predictions?

Please leave your predictions in the commentaires section below. We’d love to hear from you.





(Level: C1 – C2)

Superforecasting: How to Predict the Future (4 mins 40 secs)





Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar? English in the Pandemic – 14

(What’s the difference between fun and funny in English).

Fun and funny are two different animals. Like alligators and crocodiles, they look alike and they can be easily confused.

Benedicte Gravrand, an English trainer at The Language House explains.


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Fun and Funny

(Level A2-B2)

Fun is a noun. It means enjoyment, or an enjoyable activity. Oh, and it is uncountable (so you can’t have two funs).

  • We had a lot of fun in the snow.
  • Playing frisbee is fun!
  • Let’s do it again. This is fun.


Funny is an adjective. It has two meanings:

Something that is funny makes you laugh.

Funny also means something that is strange or unusual, or even illegal.

  • A funny joke (it makes me laugh).
  • Eddie Izzard is really funny (see video below).
  • This tea tastes funny (it has a strange taste).
  • I think there is some funny business going on here (it’s perhaps not legal).


Note: in informal American English, fun is sometimes used as an adjective.

  • This was a real fun party.


Fun and funny, explained by the BBC




Fill the gaps with fun or funny. The first one has been done for you.

Have fun!


  1. I think there’s something funny about their business proposal. It doesn’t seem right.
  2. The drugs did …… things to her head.
  3. She is one of Britain’s …… comedians
  4. Science can be …….
  5. You’re in a …… mood today.
  6. We had great …… comparing our baby photographs.
  7. There’s something …… going on.
  8. Wouldn’t it be …… if we played a trick on him?
  9. You’ll love Jamal – he’s great …….
  10. The kids had a lot of …… with that old tent.
  11. If you love her, you’ve got a …… way of showing it.
  12. I don’t think that’s very …….
  13. It was just a bit of harmless …….
  14. That was ……, wasn’t it?
  15. Optimists have more … than pessimists in life (see our blog on optimism here).


Answer key:

  1. Funny
  2. Funny
  3. Funniest
  4. Fun
  5. Funny
  6. Fun
  7. Funny
  8. Funny
  9. Fun
  10. Fun
  11. Funny
  12. Funny
  13. Fun
  14. Fun
  15. Fun


Fun Fun Fun – The Beach Boys



Expressions with fun and funny

(Level B2-C1)

There are lots of expressions that have the words fun or funny.


  1. To be full of fun: to get a lot of enjoyment from the things that you do. She was full of life and full of fun.
  2. To be no fun: to not be enjoyable. It’s no fun living on your own.
  3. Fun and games: enjoyable activities. Being an actor isn’t all fun and games.
  4. Have your fun: to do something that you enjoy or think is funny, especially something that annoys someone else. You’ve had your fun – now go home!
  5. Make fun of / poke fun at: to make jokes about someone or something in an unkind way. The other children made fun of her because she was always so serious.
  6. Not my idea of fun: used for saying that you do not enjoy an activity that someone else thinks is enjoyable. Kicking a football up and down a muddy pitch isn’t my idea of fun.
  7. Sound like fun: to seem to be something that you would enjoy. A weekend away sounds like fun.



  1. Feel funny: to feel slightly ill. I’ve been feeling a bit funny all day.
  2. Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar: used for asking whether the word ‘funny’ is being used to mean ‘amusing’ or ‘strange’. ‘You are funny, Albert.’ ‘Funny ha-ha or peculiar?
  3. Funny little: strange and small. He’s got a funny little car, hasn’t he?
  4. The funny thing is: used for saying you think something is strange. The funny thing is, they stole my CDs but didn’t take any money.
  5. It’s​/​that’s​/​not funny: used for telling someone that you are annoyed by something they are doing.
  6. See the funny side of something: to realize that something bad that happens can also be funny. Fortunately, Sharon saw the funny side of my mistake.
  7. Very funny: used for telling someone that you do not believe what they have said. ‘The airline has lost your suitcases!’ – ‘Very funny, now tell me where they really are.
  8. What’s so funny? used for telling someone that you do not understand why they are laughing, and that you are slightly annoyed by it. What’s so funny about my hair?


Definitions from


Test your memory. Fill in the gaps in this dialogue. The first one has been done for you.


  1. I wake up one morning, go to the kitchen to make some coffee. My brother is there, and when he sees me, he starts laughing. “Did you have fun last night,” he asks, staring at my face.
  2. “Why do you ask? What’s ……… about my face?” I say, annoyed. “You have a moustache painted on your face.”
  3. “Ahah, ……,” I reply. “I don’t believe you.”
  4. “Well, you …… at that party last night,” says my mother coming in the kitchen. “Now it’s time to go to work.” “What?” I say. “Mum, today is Sunday!”
  5. “Oh, I’m just …… you,” she says.
  6. “Well, this house is full …..…… this morning,” I retort with a hint of sarcasm.
  7. “You still have that …… moustache on your face,” my brother says.
  8. “Stop it. You’re ……,” I reply. “Besides, I think I drunk a bit too much at the party, so I’m …… right now.”
  9. “Well,” he says, “You have to see …..…… of that moustache. It makes you look older. Old and …….”
  10. “………………. ?” I ask. “Er, funny peculiar,” he replies.
  11. “The kitchen is full …….. today,” my father says, coming in with a tea pot in his hand. “What’s all this about?” “Do I have a moustache drawn on my face,” I ask him. He looks at me: “No.”
  12. “The ………. is, having a moustache sounds ……….. after all.”

Answer Key:


  1. I wake up one morning, and go to the kitchen to make some coffee. My brother is there, and when he sees me, he starts laughing. “Did you have fun last night,” he asks, staring at my face.
  2. “Why do you ask? What’s so funny about my face?” I say, annoyed. “You have a moustache painted on your face.”
  3. “Ahah, very funny,” I reply. I don’t believe him
  4. “Well, you had your fun at that party last night,” says my mother coming in the kitchen. “Now it’s time to go to work.”“What?” I say. “Mum, today is Sunday!”
  1. “Oh, I’m just making fun of you,” she says.
  2. “Well, this house is full of fund and games this morning,” I answer with a hint of sarcasm.
  3. “You still have that funny little moustache on your face,” my brother says.
  4. “Come on, you’re no fun,” I reply. “Besides, I think I drunk a bit too much at the party, so I’m feeling funny right now.”
  5. “Well,” he says, “You have to see the funny side of that moustache. It makes you look older. Old and funny.”
  6. Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?” I ask. “Er, funny peculiar,” he replies.
  1. “The kitchen is full of fun today,” my father says, coming in with a tea pot in his hand. “What’s all this about?” “Do I have a moustache drawn on my face,” I ask him. He looks at me: “No.”
  1. “The funny thing is, having a moustache sounds like fun after all.”


A few idioms with fun and funny


(level B2-C2)

I always enjoy myself when Katie’s around—she’s a bundle of fun! She can be as funny as a barrel of monkeys!

Anyway, yesterday we decided to make a cake. It usually takes some time to bake it, but with three children in the kitchen, getting there is half the fun!

We finished baking at midnight. It felt like we had just started. Time flies when you’re having fun! And Katie’s antics were too funny for words!




Eddie Izzard on learning French. Very funny.




In, out, on, above, behind, below: Prepositions in the Pandemic – 13

(English prepositions B1+)

How well do you know your English prepositions?

Here’s a little game for you.

Welcome to English in the Pandemic 13.


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Complete the sentences with the missing prepositions: after/to/through/under/ at/of/out etc…

You can check your answers below. The first one has been done for you. Let’s play. Good luck. 😊


  1. I am looking _ for­­­­_    my face mask. Did you look­­­­ _under_ your clothes on the chair? It might be _next_ +   _to_ the hand wash.


  1. I look forward _____ going back to school. I’m not really crazy _____ staying at home. I know some people are fond ____ staying at home.


  1. We must look _____ older people and protect them ____ the virus.


  1. There is no traffic _______ the road. It took me only five minutes to drive _____ Geneva.


  1. Unemployment will rise ____ doubt. Who know how many companies will go _____ + _____ business? We are all _____ the hammer, especially people who work ______ themselves. They’re really stressed _____.


  1. Donald Trump doesn’t seem to be convinced ____ the seriousness of the corona virus. He is relying ______ private companies to come ____ with solutions.


  1. I am surprised ____ the reaction of some people to the virus. My sister is afraid ____ going out without her mask. This morning my son shouted angrily _____ me: You can’t stop me _____ going outside!


  1. I am excited _____ reading my new book: A Journal of the Plague Year by Daniel Defoe. I hope it will keep my spirits ____.


  1. She is recovering _____ the virus at home. I am sure she will be up and _____ again in a few days.


  1. Police are keeping an eye ____ groups of people in the park.


  1. I insisted _____ helping my elderly neighbour with her shopping.


  1. I am an epidemiologist. I specialise ____ pandemics.  I am in charge ____ the pandemic team at the hospital. I am also responsible ______ the hospital pandemic policy. Like most doctors at the moment, I am _____ call 24/7.


  1. Most people are satisfied _____ the level of health care at the hospital.


  1. The corona virus resulted _____ an almost immediate change of behaviour.


  1. It stands _____ reason that we must all practise social distancing with older people.


  1. Don’t do that. It goes _____ the social distancing guidelines. It is important that we can count ____ everyone. Irresponsible behaviour can put us all _____ danger.



  1. for, under, next to
  2. to, about, of
  3. after, from
  4. on, through
  5. without, out of, under, for, out
  6. of, on, up
  7. by, of, at, from
  8. about, up
  9. from, about
  10. on
  11. on
  12. in, of, for, on
  13. with
  14. in
  15. to
  16. against, on, in

Expressions with prepositions:


I look forward toread more here

to be under the hammer – to be under pressure in a difficult situation

I have so much work and the deadlines are fast approaching. I am really under the hammer

stands to reason – it is obvious or logical

It stands to reason that we all must practice social distancing.

to keep an eye on – to watch or monitor carefully a person or situation

Can you keep an eye of my bag for a moment please?

John seems to have  few problems at work. Please keep an eye on him.


So, how did you go? Easy? Challenging?

Don’t stop now…

Here are some more exercises that might interest you:

To make or to do? This is the question.


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It’s time we had a talk about time: during, while, for and since…