C1+/CAE Vocabulary Expander – Homework 2nd May 2012

CAE Mon/Weds homework (2nd May 2012)
Brrrr!  Is this normal May weather in Coimbra?  Sitting at home on a damp, cold holiday morning the other day, I thought we could try out a slightly different homework activity this week.
In class today we looked at Part 4 of the CAE Use of English exam in which you are asked to think of one word which could be used appropriately to complete three sentences.  Thinking about how best to prepare for this part of the test, I would suggest:
  • getting familiar with expressions containing fairly high-frequency words and jotting examples of these down in your vocabulary notebook.
  • checking examples of the second, third, fourth etc. meanings of common words.
  • noting down words which collocate with high-frequency English words.
For example, with the word “cold,” we get the collocation…
 bitter(ly) cold (intensely cold weather)  “Let’s quickly look at the weather forecast for the next few days, the temperature will remain bitterly cold throughout the country over the weekend but is expected to warm up on Tuesday morning.”
…as well as the expressions…
to give someone the cold shoulder (to deliberately ignore someone)  “When their son was accused of stealing the money, many people in the village gave his parents the cold shoulder.”
in cold blood (acting in a deliberately cruel way) to kill somebody in cold blood
get cold feet (feel anxious about)  He was starting to get cold feet about the wedding.  Similar to “have second thoughts about doing something.”
Familiarity with one or two of these expressions might help you in the exam if the 3 sentences needed the word “cold”  to complete them.  So, for homework, I’m setting you a collocation and expression finding mission.  Here’s an example of how it works…
The words bittershoulderfeet, and blood appear in the four collocation/expression examples above.  Here are some examples of how they appear in other collocations/expressions…
a bitter disagreement / argument / dispute:  (unpleasant)  Their divorce was very bitter and they haven’t spoken to each other in years.
a bitter disappointment Losing the match in a penalty shoot out was a bitter disappointment to the England team.
To feel bitter about something to feel angry and unhappy about something…(similar to resentful) She feels bitter about not being promoted / losing her job etc.
To fight until the bitter end – to continue until you have done everything you can before accepting defeat… (not give up).
Hillary Clinton will ‘fight until the bitter end’ after landslide win in West Virginia… Hillary Clinton last night defied renewed calls to abandon her White House campaign and declared: “The race isn’t over yet.” …At a victory rally in Charleston, she said her win made her “more determined than ever” to fight the five remaining primaries in Kentucky, Oregon, Puerto Rico, Montana and South Dakota.  Daily Mail 15th May 2008 http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-566280/Hillary-Clinton-fight-bitter-end-landslide-win-West-Virginia.html#ixzz1t4bvoImB

Verb + shoulder collocations (shoulder = part of the body between the top of your arms and neck)  To shrug your shoulders (to show you don’t know),  To look back over your shoulder  (http://youtu.be/N_1QEI7CZ7o),  To tap someone on the shoulder (to get their attention)

A shoulder to cry on – someone who listens to you and gives you emotional support… (http://youtu.be/byBtUsxK_gI)

If you ever need a shoulder to cry on, i am here for you, if you ever need someone to laugh, and share memories with, i am here for you, if you ever just want someone there without ever saying a word, i am here for you, because in the truth of it all, i will one day need you for those very same things, and you know why it would be easy, because dear sister of mine, we’re family, and i love you.  Angelica Brogan http://www.searchquotes.com/quotes/author/Angelica_Brogan/

to shoulder the blame for something – accept some/all of the responsibility for something that went wrong

 John Terry:  Chelsea players must take some blame for AVB axe

Chelsea captain John Terry concedes that he and his team-mates are partly responsible for André Villas-Boas’s sacking.  John Terry admits the Chelsea players must shoulder some of the blame for André Villas-Boas’s dismissal – because performances were not up to par.  The young Portuguese coach was given his marching orders following the Premier League defeat at West Bromwich after less than eight months in charge at Stamford Bridge with the Blues fifth in the Premier League.

The Sport Review, 13th March 2012 http://www.thesportreview.com/tsr/2012/03/john-terry-chelsea-andre-villas-boas-sacking/

to be rushed / run off your feet…to be really busy:  “With three colleagues on holiday at the moment, I’m rushed off my feet at work.”

To have / keep your feet on the ground…be realistic and sensible about how you approach life…

From an online advice column:

Dear Abby: Girl chasing fame should keep her feet on the ground

(Question)  Dear Abby: I am a 16-year-old girl and I want to become famous. My mom says that’s not a real job. I was in magazines when I was little, but now that I’m older, I want to be a singer or actress. What should I do? — Heading for Fame in Ohio

(Reply)  Dear Heading: Listen to your mother. Fame, if one can achieve it, is usually accomplished after years of planning and hard work. If there is community theater in your area, volunteer and become involved. Plan to study music, drama and speech — as well as another subject so you can support yourself if it takes awhile for you to become famous. (This is called “Plan B.”)

Record online (Times Herald-Record) http://www.recordonline.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20120414/COMM/204140308/-1/NEWS14

 to put you foot down…to be strict – especially in opposition to something someone wants to do / is doing…
My Dad put his foot down and said “enough” about my fighting in school.  Either I had to stop hanging out with that group or he was going to take me out of school.  Dr.  Lisa Mefoff, Stressed out students’ guide to handling peer pressure (Kaplan, 2008)
blood is thicker than water…family relationships are very strong…your parents and family are more likely to stick by you (support) you in times of trouble than friends.
…makes my blood boil…to make someone very angry…”It makes my blood boil when I read about companies exploiting children as a cheap labour force.”

to have blood on your hands…to be responsible for somebody’s death…“Critics of the war say the President has blood on his hands.”

like getting blood from a stone…almost possible to obtain…often associated with making someone tell you something…“Getting him to tell me what happened was like getting blood from a stone – he hardly said anything about it.”

The examples here show how a little research into one key word can lead you to lots of examples of collocations and expressions.  So, here’s the homework mission…

The mission

The 9 words below were used in the expressions given above.  In class, you were given one of these words to research and investigate.

  • end
  • cry
  • blame
  • run
  • ground
  • water
  • boil
  • hand(s)
  • stone

If everyone completes their mission to find 3 expressions or collocations with their key word, as a class you will have a new collection of 27 examples.


Online dictionaries are the perfect research source for this.  Here are some you can use:

Oxford:  http://oald8.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/

Cambridge:   http://dictionary.cambridge.org/

Macmillan:  http://www.macmillandictionary.com/

Longman:  http://www.ldoceonline.com/

Cobuild:  http://dictionary.reverso.net/english-cobuild/


  • Find examples of expressions and collocations with your key word.
  • Select 3 that you think would be most useful for you and your classmates to know about.
  • Report back with your findings by writing messages in the comments box on this page (you don’t need to register to leave a comment and your information will not be public – you can use an invented name to post under).
  • If you want, you can link to stories or songs containing examples of your expressions online.  A good way to find these is to put the whole expression into google with speech marks around them in the search box to ensure you get exact hits.
  • I don’t think it should take too long to do and by sharing the results will mean that your classmates will benefit from your research and you from theirs.

Extra challenge:  If you are the first to post or you post an expression which includes your key word and the word “cold” (where we started off, remember?), there may be an exclusive prize heading your way in class next Monday!

Good luck!



Filed under C1+ Vocabulary, C1/CAE - Use of English

7 responses to “C1+/CAE Vocabulary Expander – Homework 2nd May 2012

  1. andre

    Be at the end of your tether
    Keep your end up
    Make both ends meet

    • Good stuff Andre, thanks for taking part! You are first to post so you can look forward to some kind of exotic prize on Monday (don’t build your hopes up too much though!). It’d be useful to include a bit more context here to help show the meaning and how these expressions are used. Could you include a sample sentence for each one? In what circumstances are people “at the end of their tether”? When might you need to “keep your end up”? In what situations do people (try to) “make both ends meet”? Thanks a lot for getting involved and have a great weekend. Cheers, Matt.

  2. Ana

    only have yourself to blame (used to say that you think something is somebody’s own fault)

    to shoulder the blame for something (accept some/all of the responsibility for something that went wrong)

    I don’t blame you/her, etc. (used to say that you think that what somebody did was reasonable and the right thing to do)

  3. João Nuno

    Stop trying to run my life (organize it)
    I ran my eyes over something (look in a specific direction)
    My car runs on diesel (uses diesel)

  4. Thanks for joining in João, some good examples here of different uses of the verb ‘run.’ There was a link back to our original word (cold)…If something makes your “blood run cold” it horrifies you…
    “That horror film was really disturbing…it makes my blood run cold just thinking about it.”
    “The idea of Benfica beating Sporting in the last minute of a cup final makes my blood run cold.”

  5. Heya i’m for the first time here. I came across this board and I in finding It really helpful & it helped me out a lot. I am hoping to provide something again and aid others such as you aided me.

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