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degree of excellence; characteristic; attribute; character; excellence
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Keep in touch with us and learn new English words and idioms through our newsletter. Every month Alan Townend will send you a short essay on a particular topic such as advertising or money. The texts contain a lot of expressions and idioms related to the theme in question. With our newsletter you can both learn and smile as Alan writes his texts in a unique and humorous style. Explore the English language in a very amusing but informative manner and see just what fun learning can be. If you are concerned about the privacy of your email address, you can browse through the back issues of our newsletter before you sign up for it. Still got questions? Contact us on our forum. See you soon.
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Newsletter July 17 - 2003FREE email English course

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Sea expressions

Let''s start with three ''Sea Expressions'':

- All at sea
- Sea change
- Sea of faces

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If you live in Britain, as I do, it doesn''t take long to realise that whatever direction you take, it isn''t long before you reach the sea. And of course if you don''t like flying, as I don''t, and you want to travel to another country, you have to cross that strip of water between England and France called the Channel. It will come as no surprise therefore that this mass of water we call "sea" and all the things people do on it have had a great influence on daily language.

In terms of expressions where the word "sea" itself appears, the emphasis is on its great size. After all more of the earth is covered with water than land and it wasn''t that long ago when people thought that once you went over the horizon in your boat, you fell off the end of the world!

Imagine that you''ve just started in a new job and only a few days later you find yourself alone in your place of work. Then the telephone rings and you very nervously answer it. You get asked lots of questions. You don''t know the answers and you don''t know where anything is kept. You are totally confused and can''t help the caller -- "You are all at sea."

At lunchtime you feel you must have something to eat after all the problems you''ve had and you go into the firm''s canteen. The trouble is that as you''re new, you don''t know anyone and the place is full of hundreds of people and you think they''re all looking at you. You go down the stairs and can see this enormous number of unknown faces -- "a sea of faces".

Let me finish with an expression some hundreds of years old created by our greatest national poet, Shakespeare, which is still very much in use today. When we want to talk about a dramatic alteration taking place that affects many people like for example the ending of apartheid in South Africa, we call this in Shakespeare''s words -- "a sea change." And now as it''s high summer, I''d like to go for a long walk in the countryside but I can''t really because as well as being surrounded by sea in this small island, we have a few problems with another mass of water inland too -- in other words it''s raining!

Alan Townend

Dear Friend,
If you have any questions or comments regarding this essay, please post your answers on the forum here: All at sea?
Many thanks.

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English Grammar through Stories (PDF)
English Grammar through Stories could be your saviour — it shows you a completely new way of learning. Forget about old-fashioned text books with difficult explanations and boring sample sentences. You can improve your grammar very fast if you know how. The answer is a few clicks away: Read these unique short stories by Alan Townend and absorb the patterns of English grammar automatically. You can only learn if you enjoy what you are doing. You will love the funny characters in English Grammar through Stories because they show the strengths and weaknesses of human nature. On top of all that, each story concentrates on one particular grammar item so all you have to do is read the book and have fun. You will be amazed at how easily you can improve your grammar.

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