This is the second in a series of two posts about the process of putting together the new edition of the COBUILD Dictionary of Phrasal Verbs, published together with a new edition of COBUILD Dictionary of Idioms.
In the last post, we considered various interpretations of the term ‘phrasal verb’ and examined how they are used in terms of grammar and register. We then looked at how we at Collins went about identifying both new phrasal verbs and new uses of existing ones.
Idioms can be a really fun part of language learning with their colourful imagery and quirky cultural connections. However, they can also be a real challenge for learners. There are such a variety of idioms in English and many are impossible to decode on first meeting.
Can you imagine what I would do if I could do all I can?
The quote above, attributed to an ancient Chinese military strategist, is often used in leadership training to encourage people to act on their ideas and see them through to completion. But we’re interested in it for another reason: the language it contains, namely modals and a conditional sentence. In this blogpost we’re going to discuss each of these areas of language in turn.