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Here are some tables of the items of vocabulary (idioms, phrasal verbs and colloquial language). The vocabulary is everday language familiar to all English-speaking people and useful to anybody planning to visit an English-speaking country or do business with English-speaking people. The tables list all the definitions of each item and include the phrasal verbs ‘to turn into’, ‘to try on’, ‘to make up’ and ‘to get over’. They are also accompanied by exercises.
 

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A. 1
To turn into
to change completely, transform.

 
e.g. She is usually quite a laid-back person but on the tennis court she turns into a demon.
Note that “to turn into” emphasises a change whereas “to turn out to be” focuses more on what happens n the end.
 

A. 2
To do something in one go
to start and finish something without stopping

 
e.g. I didn’t like the sound of the new TV series about the Vietnam War, but once I started it, I found it so interesting I ended up watching it all in one go.

 

B.
It’s (your) go
it’s (your) turn to play.

 
e.g. It’s his go, but he is still on the phone, so let’s just take ours first.
 

B. 1.1
To have a go/give it a go
to try something to see if one is able to do it

 
e.g. Sarah didn’t like the idea of online dating, but Lisa persuaded her to have a go/give it a go.
e.g. Brian had never had the time to take up a musical instrument so when he finally retired he decided to finally have a go/give it a go.
 

B. 1.2
To have a go
to tell off, criticise strongly

 
e.g. Although Adam is an excellent salesman, his boss Narinder is always having a go at him because she is jealous.
 

B. 2.1
To go
to be left, to be remaining

 
e.g. There are still three weeks to go until my holidays and I am counting the days!
 

B. 2.2
To go
to match in colour, to be the right colour

 
e.g. Brian’s blue shirt goes well with his baby-blue eyes.

 

C.
To go/drive somebody round the bend/up the wall
to go or to make someone crazy, mad or angry

 
e.g. We sometimes worry that we will go around the bend since we moved into this supposedly haunted house.
e.g. The children have been driving Martha round the bend/up the wall this week as they have been off school.
Note “to go round the bend” is intransitive and “to drive round the bend” is transitive.

 

D.
To trip up/over
to fall over, to hit something with one’s foot, causing one to fall or almost fall

 
e.g. Danny is very clumsy and so he is always tripping over things but luckily never seems to hurt himself that badly..
e.g. The old man tripped up/tripped over as he was walking down the road and had to be helped up by some kind passers-by.
Note that whilst “to trip up” can only be a transitive verb, “to trip over” can be used as either a transitive or an intransitive verb.

 

E.
To swap
to exchange

 
e.g. Can we swap books when we have both finished reading? I don’t have anything else to keep me occupied while I am staying here.
Note the difference between “swap with” and “swap for” is that “with” refers to the owner of the object and “for” refers to the object itself.

 

F.
To try on
to try to trick someone

 
e.g. When I was trying on clothes to wear on holiday, I couldn’t believe how much weight I had put on since last summer.
 

F. 1
To try it on
to try to trick someone

 
e.g. Brian tried it on with me but I could see through him straight away.
 

F. 2
To try it on
to see how far someone can go with someone

 
e.g. The children tried it on with the new teacher but soon discovered they wouldn’t get very far with her when she put the whole class in detention.
 

F. 3
To try it on
to try and seduce someone

 
e.g. Before he met Christina, Harry was always trying it on with girls, but he didn’t usually get very far.

 

G. 1
To make out
to try to understand a person or situation

 
e.g. I can’t make out exactly what Brian is trying to do, but I have no doubt he is up to no good.
 

G. 2
To make out
to identify with difficulty by sight or hearing

 
e.g. The TV signal was quite bad, so I couldn’t really make out the image, but at least I was able to hear the dialogue.
 

G. 3
To make out
to claim, to pretend that

 
e.g. Sarah likes to make out that she is quite posh but we all know that she is common as muck underneath it all.
 

G. 4
To make out
to write a cheque to someone, prepare a receipt etc.

 
e.g. Even though the money was for his nephew John, Harry made out the cheque to his brother Sam, as John doesn’t have his own bank account yet.

 

H. 1
Upside down/the wrong way up
in the opposite position

 
e.g. When I came home and saw that the picture in the living room was hanging upside down/the wrong way up, I knew that we had been burgled.
e.g. If you write the letter M upside down, it looks like the letter W.
 

H. 2
Upside down
disorder, mess and confusion

 
e.g. Life in Germany was completely upside down following the First World War.

 

I
On the ball
to be up-to-date, ahead of others, quick to realize/understand

 
e.g. Josh is a really good lawyer because he is always well-prepared and 100% on the ball.

 

J. 1.1
To make up
to invent (speech/story)

 
e.g. Although my great-grandmother could not read and write, she was very good at making up stories off the top of her head.
 

J. 1.2
To make out
to become friends again after an argument

 
e.g. Brian and Josh were best friends when they were children but fell out with each other as teenagers and didn’t make up with each other again for many years.
 

J. 1.3
To make out
to form, consist of

 
e.g. The student body is mostly made up of business people.
 

J. 1.4
To make out
to compensate, to pay the balance

 
e.g. Karen was off sick last week but she told her boss that she would make up the hours by the end of the month.
Note the different constructions “to make it up to someone” and “to make up for something”.
 

J. 2
To make up one’s mind
to decide

 
e.g. Beth made up her mind to study History and could not be persuaded to do anything else.
 
 
J. Crowley

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