Filling your English stockpile of stock phrases, from EC San Francisco

Among all the challenges of vocabulary development, phrasal verbs and what are called “stock phrases” in English are one more level of necessary knowledge.  You can find an endless supply of books and online sources that can help, with a variety of organizational approaches.  One approach I like is to take a key word (either in a phrasal or a phrase), and see what changes can happen around it.  For example, with phrasals, if I learn “look up” (Look it up in the dictionary.), I want to know about “look down,” “look out,” “look in,” etc., changing the preposition (sometimes called a “particle” now) to see 1) Is this a possible phrasal?  and 2) What does it mean?  So, here are some phrases using “end.”  (The choice is random.)

to be at a loose end: to have nothing particular to do
Toby found himself at a loose end once all of his friends had left the playground

to leave something on end: to leave something upside down
The waiter put the tables on end before cleaning the floor

at/towards the end: when something is close to finishing
The plot got surprisingly complicated towards the end of the movie

to end up: to arrive somewhere by chance
We got lost on our way to Golden Gate Park and ended up in Chinatown

to make ends meet: to have just enough money to get by
Emma was finding it difficult to pay rent and make ends meet

The end of the line: the end of something  –  for a living thing (including a human), death or total defeat.              Waterloo was the end of the line for Napoleon.

the end justifies the means: if your goal is good, you can do anything to reach it.                                                               The end of creating a nation that stretched from coast to coast justified the means of destroying the Native Americans.

end over end: tumbling  –  head up, feet up, head up, feet up.                                                                                                         The bullet went end over end through his body, doing a huge amount of damage.

endgame:  From chess, the last few moves of a game; therefore, the final moves in any process – corporate takeover, seduction, military coup.                                                                                                                                            Generally, his endgame involved alcohol, compliments, and a sad story about how he had never found love.

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