This post is divided into two parts: English Idioms and Vocabulary Builder.
In this first post, I would like to explain the meaning of the title of the blog, which itself is an idiom:
" KEEP YOUR ENGLISH UP TO SCRATCH "
So what is an idiom?
An idiom is a group of words in a fixed order whose meaning is different from the meanings of each individual word. Idioms, which are commonly used in English, are often colloquial expressions but are also used in formal style, in poetry, in Shakespeare and even in the Bible.
Here are three idioms using the word SCRATCH.
1. up to scratch - reaching an expected or required standard
Synonyms : satisfactory, acceptable
Examples: I’m going to spend a few weeks in London to keep/bring my English up to scratch.
I need to talk to him because his work isn’t up to scratch these days.
Suggested translation into French:
maintenir /emmener quelque chose au niveau voulu.
2. from scratch (informal)
a. with no previous knowledge
Example: She learned Mandarin Chinese from scratch in six months.
b. to do something from the beginning, without using any earlier work
Examples: If they’d been involved in the project from scratch, they’d realise how much work’s gone into it.
Suggested translation into French: à partir de zero.
3. you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours
This is a saying or proverb used to tell somebody that if they do something for you, you’ll do something for them in return, even if it’s unfair to other people.
Suggested translation into French: un service en attire un autre.
II. VOCABULARY BUIDER
Building and widening your vocabulary will improve your English and help you to speak with more confidence.
There are certain words and phrases in English which non-native speakers often have particular difficulty with. Two of these words which spring to mind are the verbs “forget” and “want”.
1. The verb forget should not be used in a phrase when a place is mentioned.
Example: I forgot to bring the brochures. I left them at the office. (correct)
Frequently made mistake(s): I forgot the brochures at the office. (incorrect)
2. The verb want is often followed by a direct object, and not a that-clause. This also applies to would like/love etc.
Example: She wants me to help her with the paperwork.(correct)
Frequently made mistake: She wants that I help her with the paperwork. (incorrect)
Example: I would like you to visit the new premises.(correct)
Frequently made mistake: I would like that you visit the new premises. (incorrect)
3. False Friends (faux amis) English vs French
In language terms, false friends are words which are frequently confused with similar looking or sounding words in other languages, but which have different meanings. There are true false friends and partial false friends.
Here are some examples of true false friends.
Note: This post was first published on Linkedin on 13 June 2014.
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