Word study: Hold

The word HOLD can be used in different contexts and assume various meanings. See some of those contexts in the list below.

To have and keep in one’s grasp: The dictator held the reins tightly.

To aim or direct, to point: The firefighter held a hose on the source of the fire.

To keep from falling or moving; support: Charles used a nail but it was too small to hold the large mirror.

To sustain the pressure of: The old bridge can’t hold much weight.

To keep from departing or getting away: Hold the bus! Hold the dog until I find the leash.

To keep in custody: The police held the suspect 24 hours for questioning.

To retain (one’s attention or interest): Televised sports can’t hold my interest.

To avoid letting out or expelling: The swimmer held her breath while underwater.

To be filled by; to contain

To have as a chief characteristic or quality: The film holds many surprises.

To have in store: Let’s see what the future holds for her young daughters.

To have and maintain in one’s possession: Her family holds a great deal of property.

Too have as a responsibility or privilege: Jim held the governorship for six years.

To have in recognition of achievement or superiority: My brother holds the record for the one-mile race.

To maintain control over: Thieves held the stolen painting for ransom.

To maintain occupation by force: Protesters held the embassy for a week.

To maintain a given condition: The storyteller held the crowd spellbound.

To impose control or restraint: She held her temper.

To reserve or keep back from use: Please hold two tickets for us.

To defer the immediate handling of: The receptionist held all calls during the meeting.

Idiomatic English

Idioms with the word HOLD

Idiom Meaning Example
get (a) hold of to come into possession of. Where can I get hold of a copy of this book?
hold a candle to to compare favourably with The new version doesn’t hold a candle to its original.
hold up one’s end to fulfil one’s part of an agreement; do one’s share. Are you going to hold up your end of the bargain?
hold one’s own maintain one’s position and be in control of a situation; be sufficiently competent in a certain situation He can hold his own in a fight.
hold out on (someone) to withhold something from (someone) Don’t hold out on me; start telling the truth!
hold (someone’s) feet to the fire to pressure (someone) to consent to or undertake something. I think reporters really should hold the president’s feet to the fire about this issue.
 hold the line to maintain the existing position The bank had to hold the line on salary increases.
 hold sway to have a controlling influence; dominate Ten years after she correctly predicted the crash, she still holds sway among stock brokers.
 hold water to stand up to critical examination. Your explanation doesn’t hold water.
 on hold keep a state of temporary interruption without severing a telephone connection. The credit card representative put me on hold for 10 minutes.

Phrasal verbs

Phrasal verbs with the word HOLD.

Phrasal verb Meaning
hold against have a grudge; show little respect
hold back not showing emotion; prevent from progressing or moving forward; not disclose or make public
hold down keep or have a job; prevent from moving by restraint; retain in your stomach
hold forth state your opinions about something
hold off delay; bad weather NOT appearing; prevent someone from attacking or beating you
hold on wait; grip tightly
hold out resist; extend in front of you
hold out for wait for something better
hold out on not disclose; not pay
hold over delay; go longer than planned
hold to hold to something: to do what you have promised or decided; hold someone to something:  to make someone do what they have promised or decided.
 hold up delay especially when travelling; Robbery
 hold with agree or accept

Fill in the blank with the correct phrasal verb from the list above.

  1. Don’t hold _______ me now. Tell me where you were last night.
  2. It’s hard to hold _______ a job in uncertain economic times.
  3. “Why aren’t you eating all your dinner?”  “I’m holding ________ the chocolate mousse.”
  4. She doesn’t hold _______ people living together before they are married.
  5. Jane is holding ______ about capitalism’s benefit again. What a bore!
  6. We had to hold ______ buying a new house this year as John lost his job.
  7. The play got held ______ for the third straight week.
  8. Hold ______ your hands. I have a surprise for you.
  9. We were held _______ in the city center by a huge traffic jam.
  10. It’s a bad habit. Don’t hold it _________ me.
  11. He tried to hold _______ his tears while watching the sad movie but couldn’t.
  12. “I’m going to clean the kitchen tonight.”  “I’m going to hold you _____ that.”
  13. Hold ______! I’ll be ready in a minute.


  1. Don’t hold out on me now. Tell me where you were last night.
  2. It’s hard to hold down a job in uncertain economic times.
  3. “Why aren’t you eating all your dinner?”  “I’m holding out for the chocolate mousse.”
  4. She doesn’t hold with people living together before they are married.
  5. Jane is holding forth about capitalism’s benefit again. What a bore!
  6. We had to hold out on buying a new house this year as John lost his job.
  7. The play got held over for the third straight week.
  8. Hold out your hands. I have a surprise for you.
  9. We were held up in the city center by a huge traffic jam.
  10. It’s a bad habit. Don’t hold it against me.
  11. He tried to hold back his tears while watching the sad movie but couldn’t.
  12. “I’m going to clean the kitchen tonight.”  “I’m going to hold you to that.”
  13. Hold on! I’ll be ready in a minute.

Word study: Point

Point is both a noun and a verb. It can mean different things in different contexts. Let’s look at some of those meanings.

the point (noun)

a) an idea, opinion, or piece of information that is said or written
You made some interesting points in your presentation.

b) an opinion or fact that deserves to be considered seriously, or that other people agree is true.
You’ve got a point there.

c) a particular time or stage in a process.
I was completely lost at one point

d) a particular place.
This is a good point from which to watch the game. 

e) purpose or usefulness
I’d like to write to him, but what’s the point? He never writes back.

f) a mark or unit for counting, especial how much a person or team has scored in a sport.
He scored the most points in the game. 

g) the sharp end of something, such as a knife.
I sharpened my pencil to a point

h) a particular quality or characteristic of a person or thing
I think her kindness is one of her strong points. (=one of her good qualities)

i) a long, thin area of land that stretches out into the sea
Point Roberts

j) a small, round mark on a line, plan or map to show the position of something
Join the points A and B together on the diagram with a straight line.

to point (verb)

a) to direct other people’s attention to something by holding out your finger towards it.
“Look at this!” she said, pointing to a picture in her book.

b) to hold something out in the direction of someone or something.
He said that the man had pointed a knife at him.

c) if something points in a particular direction, it is turned towards that direction
The road sign points left.

Idiomatic English

Idiom Meaning Example
on the point of (doing) something to be going to do something very soon Just as we were on the point of giving up hope, a letter arrived.
make a point of doing something to always do something or to take particular care to do something She makes a point of keeping all her shopping receipts.
my point exactly said in answer to something that someone has just said when you believe it yourself, or when you have said it yourself earlier. “So even if we got the funding, we still couldn’t get the project started.” “My point exactly.”
on point as good as it could be; perfect. Her dance performance was on point.
to the point expressing something very important or suitable for the subject being discussed. His feedback on my work was very apt and to the point.
up to a point partly, or to a limited degree. Of course there is some truth in all this, but only up to a point.
 point someone towards/in the direction of something. to suggest that someone should do or buy a particular thing. Can you point me in the direction of the closest bank?


Here are some examples of phrases with the word point.

Phrase Meaning Example
the/somebody’s point the meaning or most important part of what someone says or writes Please get to the point.
beside the point not important or not related to the subject being discussed. That’s beside the point.
that’s a (good) point said to show that what someone has just said is true or important. “We’ll take the train.” “But we don’t have any money for the fare.” “That’s a good point.”
boiling, melting, freezing point the temperature at which a substance boils, melts, freezes, etc. The boiling point of water is 100 degrees Celsius.

How would you caption the picture above using the word POINT? Add your caption to the comments below.

Word study: set

The verb SET may have different meanings in different contexts. Let us learn some of them.

a) to put somebody or something somewhere – She set her book on the table.

b) to cause something or somebody to begin doing something – He sets my heart thumping.

c) to apply something to an object that will cause it to burn – They set fire to the house.

d) to focus your mind on a goal – Once he sets his mind to it, he can find a solution.

e) to solidify; cause something to become solid or hard – It takes 2 hours for concrete to set.

f) to arrange or to prepare something to be used – Jim has learned how to set the table.

g) to reach a decision about something such as time – They have set their wedding date.

h) to establish something that determines the direction of the future – The Parliament decided to set a limit to government spending.

i) to establish something that others will follow – She set an example for her younger brother.

Idiomatic English

Idiom Meaning Example
set a precedent to establish a pattern to be followed in the future He set a precedent by having the chaplain lead the academic procession.
set a trap to prepare a trap to catch a person who is doing something wrong or illegal They decided to set a trap for him by leaving him in charge.
set about to (do something or go somewhere) to begin something After putting up the tent, she set about making a fire.
set back (someone or something) to cause someone/something to get behind schedule New violence has set back the peace process.
set eyes on (someone or something) to see for the first time I knew when I set eyes on that car that it was the car for me.
set foot on to step on or go somewhere for the first time We were so happy to set foot on dry land.
set foot in to enter I’ll never set foot in this house again.
set forth (something) to explain something exactly or clearly She set her ideas forth in an organized and interesting manner.
set in stone to be very difficult or impossible to change The schedule isn’t set in stone, but we’d like to follow it pretty closely.

Phrasal verbs with set

Phrasal verb Meaning
set aside to keep or save something from a larger amount or supply in order to use it later for a particular purpose
set apart to make someone or something different and special
set about to start to do or deal with something
set down to state officially how something should be done; to consider something in a particular way
set forth to start a journey, especially one that is long or difficult; to explain or describe something in a clear and detailed way, especially in writing.
set in to if something unpleasant sets in, it starts to happen and have an effect, and is not likely to stop for a long time.
set off to start a journey, or start going in a particular direction; to make something/somebody explode; to cause something to operate, or a series of events to happen, especially by accident
set up to start something such as a business; to organise or plan something such as an event or system; to build a structure, or put it in a particular place
set upon to attack someone or something

1. The High Court ————– the decree of the lower court.

a) set aside
b) set off
c) set up
d) set about

2. In England, winter —————- December.

a) sets in
b) sets up
c) sets down
d) set apart

3. He immediately —————- organizing the program.

a) set about
b) set out
c) set aside
d) set off

4. The pilgrims —————- in the morning.

a) set off
b) set up
c) set down
d) set upon

5. The robbers ————– the poor traveler.

a) set upon
b) set forth
c) set in
d) set off

6. These seats are ————— for ladies.

a) set apart
b) set for
c) set upon
d) set off

7. The smoke ————— the fire alarm.

a) set off
b) set upon
c) set down
d) set on

8. The accused alleged that somebody had ———— him ————–

a) set up
b) set off
c) set out
d) set down

9. What ———— you ————— to do that?

a) set on
b) set off
c) set down
d) set up

10. In his speech, he ————- his ideas clearly.

a) set forth
b) set upon
c) set in
d) set down



1. a) set aside (annulled)
2. a) sets in (start)
3. a) set about (took steps towards)
4. a) set off (started)
5. a) set upon (attacked)
6. a) set apart (reserved)
7. a) set off
8. a) set up (trapped)
9. a) set on (instigate)
10. a) set forth


Source “phrasal verbs with set”: https://www.englishpractice.com/vocabulary/phrasal-verbs-set/
Image credit: Sandis Helvigs (unsplash.com)
Word study: run

Word study: Run

The word RUN can be used in different contexts to mean different things. Here are some of the definitions and examples when the verb is used in different situations:

a) to move swiftly on foot so that both feet leve the ground during each stride: He runs for two kilometres every morning.

b) to take part in a race or contest: Kate ran in the Boston Marathon in 2010.

c) to compete in a race for elected office: Jim ran for mayor two times but did not win.

d) to finish a race or contest in a specific position: Grace ran second in the final race.

e) to be in operation: The engine has been running for one hour until it ran out of gas (see phrasal verbs below).

f) to go back and forth, especially on a regular basis: The ferry runs every hour.

g) to flow, especially in a steady stream: Turn on the faucet and let the water run.

h) to unravel along a line: Her stockings ran and she could not wear them for the concert.

i) to tend to persist or recur: Compassion seems to run in that family (everybody in the family is like that).

Phrasal verbs with RUN:

Phrasalverb Meaning Example
run across  to meet someone you know when you’re not expecting to.  I ran across several old friends when I went back to my hometown.
run after to chase or pursue  She has spent her life running after fame and fortune.
run along  said to children to tell them to go away.  Run along now, children!
run away  to leave a place or person secretly and suddenly.  He ran away from home when he was only twelve.
run down gradually deteriorate (or cause to deteriorate) in quality. The property had been allowed to run down.
run into (someone) meet somebody unexpectedly; (problems) encounter a problem  I ran into my sister at the market yesterday. I’ve run into some problems with the printer.
run off  to leave somewhere or someone suddenly.  My wife has run off with another man.
run on be powered by  Electric cars run on electricity, not gas.
run out  Have none left.  We ran out of milk.
run over  To hit with a vehicle (car, train, truck); Take more time than planned  She’s upset because she ran over a cat while driving home from work. The meeting ran over 20 minutes, so I was late for my next appointment.
run through  Explain quickly; Quickly practice or rehearse a play, performance, song, or presentation.  Let me run through the schedule for the tour.
run up  Spend a lot of money on credit  I ran up a debt of $10,000 on my credit cards.
run around to be very busy doing many things  Sorry I haven’t had the chance to call you this week – I’ve been running around between work, school, and soccer practice.



Idiomatic English

a run for one's money

Idiom Meaning
a run for (one’s) money strong competition
in the long run in the final analysis or outcome
in the short run in the immediate future
on the run in hiding: fugitives on the run
run a temperature/fever to have a higher than normal body temperature
run out of to exhaust the supply of: We ran out of fuel.
run short to become scanty or insufficient in supply: We ran short on fuel oil during the winter.

Other phrases include:

run-down (adj.): tired and not healthy. My doctor said I was looking run-down.

run-down (adj.): (especially of a building or area) in a poor or neglected state after having been prosperous. A run-down Edwardian villa.

run-in (n.): you have a serious argument with someone or you get into trouble with them. I had a run-in with the police yesterday.


Here are some different ways to say RUN.

Dash: to go somewhere quickly.
He dashed out onto the street, narrowly missing a car.

Jog: to run slowly for exercise.
Every day, I go for a jog at 6:00am.

Scamper (away, down, off, etc): to run quickly and with small steps, like a child or a small animal.
I saw a rabbit scamper off into the woods. 

Sprint: to run very fast for a short distance.
She sprinted to catch the bus, but she was too late.


Image credit: Death to Stock

Word study: Bring

The verb BRING can be used in different contexts to mean different things. Check the various meanings of the verb accompanied by examples:

a) to take someone or something from one place and have them with you when you arrive somewhere else: Bring a coat in case it turns cold. Don’t forget to bring a friend to our graduation party.

b) to have something with you so that you can give it to someone when you arrive: I brought a gift for you.

c) to move something somewhere, bring something down: She reached up to the shelf and brought down a box.

d) to move something up: Bring your hands slowly up to shoulder height.

e) to be the cause of a state, situation or feeling: The agreement forms part of our efforts to bring peace to the region.

f) bring someone something: The baby has brought them great joy.

g) bring someone/something into contact with: My work brings me into contact with all kinds of people.

h) to suspect somebody as guilty: The authorities are expected to bring charges against both parties.

Phrasal verbs

Here are some phrasal verbs with the word BRING:

Phrasal Verb Meaning Example
bring up To raise (a child). Sara is bringing up her children by herself.
bring somebody down make unhappy. This sad music is bringing me down.
bring up (something) start talking about a subject My mother walks out of the room when my father brings up sports.
bring something up to vomit He drank so much that he brought his dinner up in the toilet.


Idiomatic English

Learn these idioms with the word BRING

Idiom Meaning
bring a smile to your face/lips to make you smile
bring tears to your eyes to make you cry, or to feel as if you are going to cry
bring something to an end/a close/a halt to make something stop. He brought the conversation to a close.
can’t bring yourself (to do something) to be unable to do something too unpleasant or embarrassing, or makes you too upset. He can’t even bring himself to talk to me.

Now try making your own sentence with the word BRING. Leave a sentence in the comments and we’ll correct your grammar.

Image credit: Evan Kirby (unsplash.com)

North Sea English Academy

Word study: Fall

The word FALL can be used in different situations to mean different things. Here are some of the definitions and examples when the verb is used in different situations.

a) a sudden drop from an upright position: He had a nasty fall on the ice

b) a lapse into sin; a loss of innocence: They experienced a fall from virtue.

Read more

Word study: Come

The word come can be used in different meanings. Here are some of the definitions and examples when the verb is used in different situations:

a) to approach or move toward a particular person or place: Don’t come any closer!

b) to arrive by movement or in the course of progress: The train from Boston is coming.

c) to approach or arrive in time, in succession, etc: Christmas comes once a year.

d) to extend, to reach: The dress comes to her knees.

There are many phrases formed with the verb come, such as:

Phrasal verb Meaning
come about happen
come across meet accidentally
come again used as a request to repeat a statement
come along to accompany someone; to proceed, develop or advance
come around/round to revive, to recover consciousness
come undone (laces or rope) become untied

Idiomatic English: “Come”

Come and go – to occur briefly or suddenly but never for a long time.

He does not live here anymore, he comes and goes.

Come down on the side of – to support.

I want to come down on the side of truth and justice.

Come off – (informal) to happen; occur

Her speech came off very well.


Now try writing your own sentences with the word “come.”


Photo credit: Camille Kimberly (unsplash.com)

Under the weather-North Sea English Academy

I’m feeling under the weather – and other related phrases

Have you ever heard someone tell you they feel under the weather? It’s a phrase that means “to feel unwell.” You wouldn’t use this phrase if you are really unwell. For example, if you are sick in bed with the flu, you wouldn’t use this phrase. However, if you are well enough to go to work or school, then you are under the weather. Perhaps you have a cold, or you are a little bit hungover.

Here are a few other ways to say you’re unwell:

  • not too good
  • not so great
  • a bit rough
  • bloody awful
  • worse for wear

Speaking of weather, it is terrible weather here in Friesland. It’s rainy and cloudy. How is the weather where you are? Maybe it’s sunny and warm, or it’s freezing cold. Let us know in the comments. Use the picture to help you.

NSEA weather

Weather image source: https://www.slideshare.net/maestrobilingue/the-weather-vocabulary-11864931


prefixes and suffixes

Prefixes and Suffixes

Prefixes and suffixes are sets of letters that are added to the beginning or end of another word. They are not words in their own right and cannot stand on their own in a sentence: if they are printed on their own they have a hyphen before or after them.


Prefixes are added to the beginning of an existing word in order to create a new word with a different meaning. For example:

Word Prefix New word
happy un- unhappy
cultural multi- multicultural
work over- overwork
space cyber- cyberspace
market super- supermarket


Suffixes are added to the end of an existing word. For example:

Word Suffix New word
child -ish childish
work -er worker
taste -less tasteless
idol -ize/-ise idolize/idolise
like -able likeable

The addition of a suffix often changes a word from one word class to another. In the table above, the verb like becomes the adjective likeable, the noun idol becomes the verb idolize,and the noun child becomes the adjective childish.

Word creation with prefixes and suffixes

Some prefixes and suffixes are part of our living language, in that people regularly use them to create new words for modern products, concepts, or situations. For example:

Word prefix or suffix New word
security bio- biosecurity
clutter de- declutter
media multi- multimedia
email -er emailer

Email is an example of a word that was formed from a new prefix, e-, which stands for electronic. This modern prefix has formed an ever-growing number of other Internet-related words, including e-booke-cashe-commerce, and e-tailer.

You can read more about prefixes and suffixes on the OxfordWords blog. Here you will find guidelines, examples, and tips for using prefixes and suffixes correctly.

What other words can you think of that have a prefix or a suffix? Add your words to the comments below.


Source: https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/spelling/prefixes-and-suffixes

Baby it’s cold outside: Words that mean ‘very cold’

It is very cold here in The Netherlands today. Maybe not cold to some people who are from Canada, for example, but it is very cold for Dutch standards.

Here are some words that mean ‘very cold:’

Freezing, Chilly, Icy, Frigid

Have a listen to the song “Baby it’s cold outside” and follow along with the lyrics on youtube.

Image credit: Nathan Wolfe