Tag Archives: office

A do (wait… isn’t ‘do’ a verb?)

christmas do

Photo credit: theguardian.com

Apologies for the prolonged silence on this blog – I cannot even say that I was extremely busy with work, but somehow I just didn’t get round to writing anything.

On Saturday I went to a Christmas party organised by the regional group of the Institute of Translators and Interpreters. In fact, I was also invited to a Christmas party organised by a language school where I teach, but of course they had to be on the same day and at the same time and I had to choose. Despite being completely knackered on that day I had a good time – I had a chance to catch up with colleagues and meet some new people, which is always good.

The word I chose for this post – ‘a do‘ – is a synonym of ‘a party’, and it can refer to almost any occasion:

– Are you going to Ann’s leaving do?

– We had our work [Christmas] do in this restaurant.

– Such social dos are more or less confined to the well to do and the upwardly mobile class of young professionals (Oxford Dictionary).

– We’re having a bit of a do to celebrate Pam’s birthday (MacMillan Dictionary).

In case I don’t get round to writing anything else this year, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all the readers!

P.S. Today is the last day to nominate my blog for the Macmillan Love English Award!

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Learning the ropes

learning the ropes meaning

Photo credit: toledozoo.org

The past couple of weeks have been really hectic – I’ve been trying to finish translation of the third book on time, then I went to Amsterdam on a short break and now it’s more or less back to normal. So yesterday I was my volunteering day and I met a new colleague\volunteer from Australia. It was her first day, and using the till might be a bit a tricky (it still occasionally beeps at me when I press the wrong button), so she was sometimes saying to customers ‘Bear with me, it’s my first day and I’m still learning the ropes‘.

It’s a fairly common expression, but it’s so useful in a situation when you’re new to something and want other people to be a bit more understanding and patient.

Some examples:

– It didn’t take her new assistant long to learn the ropes (MacMillan Dictionary).

– It’s never too late to change direction. However it’s not really possible to break into new sectors without any effort. You’re likely to need to retrain or, at least, take on a lenghty internship to learn the ropes (The Guardian).

– What about businessmen’s political naivety? As might be expected of an education reformer, Sir Ron Dearing suggests apprenticeships. He argues that Lord Young, a cabinet minister recruited by Margaret Thatcher, made a smoother transformation from business to politics because he made an effort to learn the ropes (The Economist).

– Thus as the idea of finding talented employees who could quickly learn the ropes took off, so did the asking price of the star MBA graduates (The Economist).

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I’m tied up

to be tied up meaning

Photo credit: irez.me

This week I learnt another useful phrase – it was in an email rather than in a conversation, but it doesn’t make it less authentic, I’m sure. I was going to arrange to speak to somebody on Skype to save us sending each other another half a dozen emails. I mentioned I could call right not, but the reply was ‘I’m tied up at the moment, shall we Skype later today?’

The meaning is quite obvious, really, but I think it’s one of those ubiquitous (but handy!) phrasal verbs that can express so much in so few words!

Some more useful examples:

– Oh, is it eleven o’clock already? I got so tied up with sending out these invitations that I didn’t even notice (phrasemix.com).

– Sorry, I’m kind of tied up at the moment. Can I call you back? (phrasemix.com).

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To tag along

to tag along meaning

Photo credit: projectpoint.in

Yesterday I was picking up my husband from work and when I arrived he was chatting to his colleagues, seeming somewhat reluctant to go home. It turned out he was telling them about our camping plans for this weekend and one of his colleagues promised to tag along. He was only joking, of course, as camping is not really his thing. As for us, we’re going! In about 4-5 hours.

To tag along‘ means to go somewhere with someone else although you are not needed (MacMillan Dictionary).

Some more examples of where you can along to:

– True to that last role, she invited all those present to a drink around the corner afterwards. A remarkable third of the audience tagged along. She laughed and cried with each and every one of them (The Economist).

– Until the Olympic reporting rules came into force in January last year, foreign journalists based in China needed government approval for any reporting trip outside their city of residence. Officials often insisted on tagging along. Many journalists would travel without permission, but local police often stopped them, seized their notebooks and expelled them from their areas (The Economist).

– A 14-year-old girl lands the lead role in a short film being shot in Aberdeenshire after tagging along to an audition (BBC).

– It was Pam who had wanted to come to this lunchtime radio recording (Edinburgh Fringe Comedy Showcase) and Gloria had tagged along in the hope that at least one of the comics might be funny, although her expectations were not high (Kate Atkinson, One Good Turn)

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Are you good for time?

are you good for time meaning usage

Photo credit: gametrailers.com

Today I went to an interview at a recruitment agency and the moment I walked in I was handed a heap of paperwork to fill in. The agent asked politely ‘Are you good for time?’ I could only say ‘yes’, really, and started scribbling down the list of my employers, strengths and weaknesses. I don’t know whether I’ll get the job, but at least there’s going to be a nice addition to this blog. There’s another phrase involving ‘good’ which I’d dwell on later.

Here are a few examples of this colloquial expression:

– A: Only a couple more questions, are you good for time?

B: Yeah I can answer a few more! (examiner.com)

– Ok, I’m GMT so 11:10pm here. Probably be on for about an hour or so once I get on that is. I’ve got a few side missions ready to go (mostly about 7k+ XP reward). Are you going to need to get off at any point or are you good for time? (forums.gearboxsoftware.com)

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To smile from ear to ear

to smile from ear to ear idiom meaning

Photo credit: historytoday.com

Today we had a fire alarm at work and everyone was leaving reluctantly because of below zero temperature outside and no time to grab a coat, though the prospect of such an unforeseen break from work made it much more bearable. As we were leaving the building, my colleague said ‘Look, everyone is smiling from ear to ear, it says a lot about this place’. I completely agree on this one, that’s why I am leaving in three weeks.

I am pretty sure that the explanation of this phrase is not needed, but I cannot resist the temptation of searching for some examples:

– Put out the bunting, crack open the beers, stand there in the kitchen smiling from ear to ear, because he’s home – our student son is home and the family is together again. And after supper, after the washing up is done, the others – his younger siblings – drift off to watch television, and he says: “Would you like to see my tattoo?” (The Guardian).

– He came to me to discuss it in 1985, smiling from ear to ear but unshaven, from the hospital where he had been up all night waiting for his son Max to be born (The Guardian).

– Craig Kinsley, a rookie Team USA javelin thrower, was smiling from ear to ear as he joined the first athletes dumping their bags in the Olympic Village. “I’ve just updated my Facebook status,” he said. “England,London, Olympic Village, heaven.” (The Guardian).

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I can’t see for looking

can't see for looking idiom meaning

Photo credit: theawl.com

Today at work I asked a lady to help me find something on our company’s website and she was trying very hard and at some point said ‘I can’t see for looking‘. I remembered hearing this idiom before and thought I’d mention it here.

If you can’t see for looking, it means that you have been looking too long or too hard and cannot see what you’re looking for.

Here are some examples (a bit random, I admit):

– Sometimes you can’t see for looking. What are you looking high and low  for at the moment which might just be right under your nose?  Perhaps it’s time to stop seeking, work on a different bit of your own jigsaw, and let that missing piece come and find you! (alivetochange.com)

– Sorry, can’t see for looking today. Is there a way to remove the run as administrator right click menu, either via a registry key or a GPO? (edugeek.com)

– Can’t see for looking? Visual searches can be vitally important: looking for knives in luggage or tumours in mammograms, for instance (nature.com).

PS. The picture above is a tribute to my university years when we used to study some classical book for a whole term, practically dissecting every chapter (if not every sentence) of it. This is the cover of ‘The Great Gatsby’ edition.

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To beaver away

to beaver away meaning

Photo credit: photo.net

I heard the phrasal verb ‘to beaver away‘ in a meeting in response to a question about how a project was going. The meaning shouldn’t be hard to guess – it simply means to work very hard at something.

– The concept of co-working is elastic but at its broadest means working alongside, and often collaborating with, people you wouldn’t normally. Users book a space in a co-working office, plonk themselves down where they can and start beavering away (The Economist).

– They have beavered away trying this and trying that and the formulations have changed over the last 50 years, but not radically (BBC).

– The lone genius, beavering away in the seclusion of his lab is how most of us imagine the great moments of innovation have come into being. But is this really the whole story? (BBC)

And here’s another picture so that it  really sticks in your mind:

to beaver away meaning demotivation

Photo credit: motivationals.org

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