Today is Friday the 13th

Today is Friday the 13th, which for superstitious people in many English-speaking countries, means bad luck.

Other things that may bring bad luck include:

breaking a mirror

walking under a ladder

opening an umbrella in the house


But to bring you good luck you might:

touch wood

see a black cat

find a four-leaf clover

To learn about the history of this day go to present link

Are you having a bad hair day?

We hope not, because if you are it means that everything is going wrong.

We also use the expression: get off on the wrong foot when things start badly (empezar con el pie izquierdo).

If you are simply feeling down because you’re back at the office after your holiday, we would say: Keep your chin up! (¡Ánimo!)

Other body idioms include:

To get cold feet = echarse atrás

She had accepted a job abroad but finally she got cold feet and turned it down.

To give somebody the cold shoulder = desairar a alguien

After the court case, the actor was given the cold shoulder by all the big studios.

Play it by ear = to improvise (improvisar)

I don’t like organising my holiday. I prefer to play it by ear each day, depending on the weather and how I feel.

But to play a musical instrument by ear, means to play without looking at a score = tocar de oído.

She was surprised to learn that the pianist always played by ear as he didn’t know how to read music.

And finally, off the top of your head means spontaneously (de bote pronto).

Off the top of my head, I’d say that the unemployment rate as gone down by 3% but I need to confirm that figure.


Time flies when you’re having fun!

It is certainly true that when we are enjoying ourselves time flies, it passes very quickly. However, when we are bored, time drags, that is to say, it goes by really slowly:

When I’m on holiday time flies, but when I’m at work, time really drags.

We often lose track of time (“perder la noción del tiempo”) when we are completely absorbed in what we are doing:

He was surprised by the sound of the shops closing as he had completely lost track of time working on his computer.

If we spend time doing nothing, we may have to make up for lost time (“recuperar el tiempo perdido”):

The hot summer months made her feel lazy, so with the first rainy days she decided she would make up for lost time.

In this case we might say: Better late than never (“Más vale tarde que nunca”).

And when we do something at the very last moment, we use the expressions in the nick of time and at the eleventh hour (“justo a tiempo”).

They managed to hand in the project in the nick of time/at the eleventh hour, five minutes before the deadline.

To learn more vocabulary related to time, go to Module 9, Unit 1 in this app.


Dog days of summer

The dog days of summer are the hottest days in summer:

During the dog days of summer he loved to spend the afternoons down by the river.

Other expressions related to the summer and sunshine include:

ray of sunshine = a person who is always happy and pleasant

My younger brother is a ray of sunshine. He always cheers me up when I feel fed up.

walk on sunshine = feel very happy

She’s been walking on sunshine since she passed her driving test.

Make hay while the sun shines = to make the most of an opportunity

As the cost of raw materials has gone down, the company has decided to increase its production and make hay while the sun shines.

To take a shine to someone or something = to develop a liking for

After his trip to the USA, he has taken a shine to driving automatic cars.


Eat, drink and be merry!

Describing food:

bitter = amargo (lemon)

sour = agrio (yoghurt)

sweet = dulce (honey)

hot / spicy = picante (curry)

tasty / savoury = sabroso (cheese)

bland / insipid = soso (water)

stale = correoso (old biscuits)

Food = alimento  (organic food, baby food)

Food/ cooking/cuisine = comida de un país/cultura (French/Mexican food/cooking/cuisine)

Meal = time when we eat (breakfast, lunch and dinner are meals)

In this app, you can listen to several podcasts which talk about food: Eating in England 1/2, Portion Distortion and Food idioms – cakes and pies.

On the beach

As the summer holiday season is now under way, here is some essential beach vocabulary:

deckchair – silla de playa

flip flops – chanclas

hammock – hamaca

sarong – pareo

seashore – orilla de la playa

sea shell – concha de mar

sunshade -sombrilla

sun glasses – gafas de sol

sun screen/sun block / suntan lotion – crema solar

sun dress – vestido sin mangas

shorts – pantalones cortos

sunbathe – tomar el sol

have a swim in the sea– bañarse en el mar

water melon – sandía

Outdoor activities

In the countryside you can go:

Cycling (ciclismo) ,  hiking, trekking or rambling (senderismo), climbing (montañismo), horseback riding (montar a caballo), camping.

On water you can go:

Canoeing (piragüismo), sailing (hacer vela), rafting, waterskiing (esquí acuático)

In the air you can go:

Ballooning (pasear en globo), parachuting or skydiving (paracaidismo) or paragliding (parapente).

You’ll find more vocabulary related to sport and extreme sports in That’s English! Module 5, Unit 4 and Module 9, Unit 8 in this app.


Gain, earn or win?

These three verbs can all be translated as “ganar” and this sometimes leads to confusion, so here are some examples of how they are used:

Gain = increase weight or speed

Most people gain weight at Christmas because they eat more than usual.

The train gained speed gradually once it had left the railway station.

We can also use gain with a reputation, recognition and advantage.

My boss has gained a reputation for being very demanding.

Earn = obtain money for work or services

In his company, most employees earn over £2,000 a month.

 Win = be successful or victorious or come first (in a race, a competition etc.)

My school football team has won every match this season.

The conservative party won the last general election.

To be in stitches

To be in stitches is one of many English idioms related to sewing (“la costura”). A stitch is literally “una puntada” but to be in stitches means to laugh uncontrollably (“morirse de risa”).

The comedian was so funny, the audience were in stitches during the whole performance.

Other sewing-relatd expressions include:

To be cut from the same cloth“cortado por el mismo patrón”.

The boss’s son is cut from the same cloth as his father. They do things in exactly the same way.

Have / get pins and needles – “sentir hormigueo”

I get pins and needles when I am on the computer for a long time.

To hang by a thread “pender de un hilo”

Many animals’ habitats are being destroyed and their survival hangs by a thread.

A common thread“denominador común”

Many customs and traditions in different parts of Europe have common threads.