Dog Day: Negative Animal Idioms

batty 92731879In much the same way that what goes up must come down, for all of the positive animal idioms there are just as much negative ones. Because these downbeat expressions are used just as much as their more optimistic cousins, we thought we would take the time to review some of the most common examples:

As Blind As a Bat
Associations with Batman aside, bats in general are not well-regarded in general. In addition to their popular perception as cave-dwelling, day-sleeping, rats with wings, however, they are also famous for their poor eyesight – a characteristic that goes a long way to explaining the meaning of this idiom. To be “as blind as a bat” is to be quite blind indeed!

A Copycat
To understand this one-word idiom it is important to put the emphasis more on the “copy” than on the “cat” because a “copycat” is someone who imitates, emulates, or otherwise “copies” the habits of someone else. Continue reading “Dog Day: Negative Animal Idioms”

Where Were You Planning To Wear That?

Stack female hats 475548561As we have seen in our parts of our commonly confused word blog series, sometime words are confused because they sound alike (i.e., homophones) and sometimes they are confused simply because of carelessness. As the following examples shows, both reasons are to blame in the case of Where, Wear, Were, and We’re.


Where is an adverb that is used to refer to a location. Here is an example of how to use it correctly:

Example: Where are you going?

Note: As an adverb of location, where is similar to the word “there.” This goes a long where to explaining why the two words are spelled the same.


Though wear is a homophone of where (both rhyme with “air” and “hair”), wear is a verb meaning to put on or tire out. For example:

Example: I like to wear hats to fancy dinner parties. Continue reading “Where Were You Planning To Wear That?”

Blow Out The Candles and Celebrate with Phrasal Verbs!

Senior woman blowing out candles on cake 71036955Phrasal verbs may have a reputation for being confusing – why, after all, does look up mean something so different than look over? – but, they should be appreciated equally as much for their power as for their complexity. As the above example shows, changing the complement of a verb can radically alter its meaning (from “research” to “review”),* and as the following examples prove, can allow us to use a single word – blow –  to describe a number of unique situations.

Blow In – to arrive suddenly

  • When James blows in unexpectedly things at our house can go from quiet to complicated in no time!

Note: This phrasal verb can be used to describe things (as in weather) or people (in which case it has a meaning that is slightly more negative [and often used to describe unexpected visitors]).

Blow Out – to extinguish with breath or went

  • “Don’t forget to make a wish when you blow out the birthday candles!”

Blow Over – to happen without creating further difficulties

  • I think that Zack should wait until the controversy about his grades blows over before asking his parents for a little extra spending money.

Note: As the above example demonstrates sometime problems only “blow over” after a problem has already happened but in which the situation is improving.

Blow … Up – to explode or cause to explode

  • Building renovations often start when a demolition team blows up the old structure to make space for the new one.

Note: This phrasal verb is inseparable with the first definition (i.e., it blew up) but separable with the second definition (i.e., I blew it up); this is determined by whether the action being described is active or passive.

Blow Up – to become very angry

  • Mark blew up at Stacy after she damaged his new car.

Note: Although inseparable like the passive use of blow up above, this phrasal verb’s alternate meaning is made obvious by its use to describe people (not things).

For more information about phrasal verbs and their use, check our other posts about phrasal verbs!


Online Learning on digital background 459519949In just a few short years, Massive Open Online Courses – or, as they are more commonly known, MOOCs – have gone from a novelty teaching tool to a possible education game changer. While it is still early days yet there can be no doubt that MOOCs will have a lasting impact on the education landscape of the future. The principle is simple – offer high-quality classes online to students anywhere around the globe at a fraction of the price of tradition university courses – and the implications enormous.

The Implications
By their very nature MOOCs effectively work to eliminate the geographical, social, and/or financial constraints that have, heretofore, limited access to higher education. This is especially true for language learners. ESL MOOCs are not only cheaper but, because of their inherent online structure, offer immensely more flexibility than traditional language training. Though often taught by university faculty, video replays of individual lectures can be viewed at any time of the day or night and, in many cases, students can enroll in the courses themselves at any time. MOOCs not only free students from the fixity that defines the Spring, Summer, Fall semester start dates but also make it possible for students to spend more time studying and less time commuting. Continue reading “ESL MOOCs  “

Every Dog Has Its Day: Positive Animal Idioms

Albino mouse pose 188081254So far in our Idiom blog series we have discussed how all manner of things – from numbers and food to colors and even body parts – have left their impression, idiomatically, on the English language. It seems almost overdue, then, that animals finally take center stage. After all, there are almost as many idioms from animals in our language as there are on our planet! Indeed, with so many distinct creatures lending their names to so many idioms, we are going to concentrate, for now, only on those expressions with positive connotations. Here are a few of our favorites:

As Quiet As A Mouse
As mice are not known for their “big mouths,” it makes sense that when people are as quiet as a mouse they, too, are pretty subdued. What makes this expression a little more complicated is the fact that it is used to describe people who are not only move silently (like, say, ninjas) but also people who are reluctant to speak (that is, shy or timid) or just plain well-behaved. Continue reading “Every Dog Has Its Day: Positive Animal Idioms”