Well, we are recovering from a week of very cold weather. The snow really did cause chaos in certain areas of the UK, and hundreds of schools were temporarily closed! All of the snow disappeared by the weekend (certainly in the area where I live), and unbelievably, the average temperature today was10°c! This is probably the best way to experience snow – short and sweet! There was just enough snow to make everything look magical and like a winter wonderland, the children had a brief chance to play outside and go sledging, but now, thankfully, the snow has all gone! Last week I mentioned that English people often make conversation about the weather, perhaps one of the reasons for this is that the weather is so changeable and unpredictable. Interestingly, we also use many weather-connected words to describe personality.
To begin with words connected to cold weather, if someone we know is cold, frosty or chilly, we may not enjoy spending time in their company! He or she is likely to be unfriendly, anti-social and a poor conversationalist. If this person is really nasty and cruel, the word cold-hearted can be used! If you have a cool-head, however, this is not a bad thing! You are likely to be logical and organised, and to stay calm in a crisis.
As you may expect, words related to sunny and warm weather, on the other hand, denote the opposite type of personality! If we say that someone has a bright or sunny personality, it means he or she has a cheerful, pleasant disposition. We may also say that someone is bright and breezy, which means lively and fun. Bright used on its own usually means intelligent. You can give somebody a warm smile or a warm welcome, or be warm-hearted (kind and generous). I think you get the idea! If you are hot-headed, however, you probably lose your temper quite a lot!
There are even metaphors linked to the wind! Sometimes we describe a person or a speech as being longwinded, which means that the speech or person is pompous and takes a long time to get around to the main point. If someone changes like the wind, obviously it means that he or she not reliable and often switches between different things; similarly, someone who blows hot and cold often changes their mind! Finally, if we compare someone to a whirlwind, it means they overwhelm us with their dynamism and energy!
Lastly, I think we all know the phrase “stay cool!”, which uses the imperative (used to give orders) and means stop worrying, relax. However, did you know that there is a new version of the phrase, which is also connected to temperature: “chill out!”. This phrase has lost the preposition and has now been abbreviated to a simple “chill!”. It’s mainly used by young people, so be careful who you say it to!
At the end of last week, I set you a task about modal auxiliaries (Saturday 10th). It was very interesting reading your comments! Here is the task, again, with my answers below.
Some learners have sent in comments about the weather in their home countries. This ________ (1) be because they are taking part in the current global interest in climate change, which ________ (2) be brought about by global warming. On the other hand, the learners in question ________ (3) just be responding to the references to weather contained in one of the teacher blog entries this week. One thing is sure: global warming ________ (4) be here to stay, so we ________ (5) take preventative action now. The growing consensus is that there ________ (6) be cooperation at an international level.
(1), (2) and (3) are all examples of speculation; we do not know the exact causes of the trends, so we use modals of possibility: any combination of may/might/could. Although it would be possible to use may/may/may or might/might/might etc, it would be better to avoid this repetition, as it becomes tired in terms of style.
(4) contains a logical deduction about global warming, and “will” is slightly better than “must”, because “will” includes a time reference (future). The word “will” is used to express extrinsic intention (that is, external forces or behaviour). If we were not using modals here, it would be equally acceptable to write “global warming is here to stay”. This is journalistic style, which uses the simple present to convey immediacy.
(5) contains an example of an obligation to take immediate action, so “must” is more powerful than “should”, but either is grammatically correct.
Again in (6), “must” and “should” are both grammatically correct. Personally I would write “should” here, partly because of the contrast it provides with the previous modal, and also because the adjective “growing” (used with “consensus”) suggests that international opinion is not yet unified, so “should”, with its overtone of advice giving, is preferable.
In answer to the question from Diema about the difference between probability and possibility, there is a nuance in meaning. Probability can be expressed as a percentage or a ratio, based on a consideration of statistical information. In terms of modal usage, I guess the choice of auxiliary would depend on the circumstances you were discussing, and how likely or unlikely the outcome would be. Sorry I can’t be any more help than this!
That’s all for now, just remember to chill!
PS. Here is a task, if you have time! In the "Chill Out" text, which words
(1) show links between sentences?
(2) show links within sentences? (between clauses or phrases)
USEFUL WORDS AND EXPRESSIONS
Disorder and confusion.
short and sweet (phrase)
This phrase is used to describe something that is enjoyable while it lasts.
Magical is used here to mean that the snow inspires a sense of awe and wonder.
winter wonderland (noun)
A fantastic winter landscape that is dreamlike and beautiful.
go sledging (verb)
Children sit on sledges and slide over the snow. It’s great fun!
Impossible to know about in advance, unreliable.
Someone who is good company and makes interesting conversation.
Very unpleasant and unkind.
Similar to nasty, but even more unpleasant and unkind.
Overly and irritatingly formal.
A dangerous, high speed whirling (spinning) wind.
Enthusiasm, energy, life-force.
As I included explanations for all of the words connected to personality, I won’t repeat them all here!
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