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I. Consider your answers to the following


1. What do v/e mean when we say that an idiom has a "double" meaning?

2. Why is it very important to use idioms with care? Should foreign-language students use them? Give reasons for your answer.

3. The term "phraseological unit" is used by most Russian scholars. What other terms are used to describe the same word-groups?

4. How can you show that the "freedom" of free word-groups is relative and arbitrary?

5. What are the two major criteria for distinguishing between phraseological units and free word-groups?

6. How would you explain the term "grammatical invariability" of phraseological units?

7. How do proverbs differ from phraseological units?

8. Can proverbs be regarded as a subdivision of phraseological units? Give reasons for your answer.

II. What is the source of the following idioms? If in doubt consult your reference books.


The Trojan horse, Achilles heel, a labour of Hercules, an apple of discord, forbidden fruit, the serpent in the tree, an ugly duckling, the fifth column, to hide one's head in the sand.

III. Substitute phraseological units with the noun "heart" for the italicized words. What is the difference between the two sentences?


1. He is not a man who shows his feelings openly. 2. She may seem cold but she has true, kind feelings. 3.1 learned that piece of poetry by memory. 4. When I think about my examination tomorrow I feel in despair. 5. When I heard that strange cry in the darkness I was terribly afraid. 6. It was the job I liked very much. 7.1 didn't win the prize but I'm not discouraged.

IV. Show that you understand the meaning of the following phraseological units by using each of them in a sentence.


1. Between the devil and the deep sea; 2. to have one's heart in one's boots; 3. to have one's heart in the right place; 4. to wear one's heart on one's sleeve; 5. in the blues; 6. once in a blue moon; 7. to swear black is white; 8. out of the blue; 9. to talk till all is blue; 10. to talk oneself blue in the face.

V. Substitute phraseological units incorporating the names of colours for the italicized words.


1. I'm feeling rather miserable today. 2. He spends all his time on bureaucratic routine. 3. A thing like that happens very rarely. 4. You can talk till you are tired of it but I shan't believe you. 5. The news was a great shock to me. It саше quite unexpectedly. 6.1 won't believe it unless I see it in writing. 7. You can never believe what he says, he will swear anything if it suits his purpose.


VI. Read the following jokes. Why do little children often misunderstand phraseological units? Explain how the misunderstanding arises in each case.


1. "Now, my little boys and girls," said the teacher. "I want you to be very still — so still that you can hear a pin drop." For a minute all was still, and then a little boy shrieked out; "Let her drop."

2. "You must be pretty strong," said Willie, aged six to the young widow who had come to call on his mother.

"Strong? What makes you think so?"

"Daddy said you can wrap any man in town around your little finger."

3. Т о m: What would you do if you were in my shoes?

Tim: Polish them!

4. Little Girl: Oh, Mr. Sprawler, do put on your skates and show me the funny figures you can make.

Mr. Sprawler: My dear child, I'm only a beginner. I can't make any figures.

Little Girl: But Mother said you were skating yesterday and cut a ridiculous figure.


VII. Read the following jokes. Explain why the italicized groups of words are not phraseological units.



The little boy whose father was absorbed in reading a newspaper on the bench in the city park, exclaimed:

"Daddy, look, a plane!"

His father, still reading the paper, said: "All right, but don't touch it."

Great Discovery


A scientist rushed into the ops room of the space mission control centre: "You know that new gigantic computer which was to be the brain of the project? We have just made a great discovery!"

"What discovery?"

"It doesn't work!"

VIII. Explain whether the semantic changes in the following phraseological units are complete or partial. Paraphrase them.


To wear one's heart on one's sleeve; a wolf in a sheep's clothing; to fly into a temper; to stick to one's word; bosom friend; small talk; to cast pearls before swine; to beat about the bush; to add fuel to the fire; to fall ill; to fall in love; to sail under false colours; to be at sea.

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