Let’s continue with some more verbal collocations. You will also see that some of them are part of larger expressions, sometimes idiomatic expressions.

Foot/feet occur in quite a few; most of them are pretty easy to understand:

  • This man who wouldn’t have been allowed to set a foot inside this house now owns my home!
  • He’d never set a foot off the path his parents had planned for him.
  • She should have researched English titles before she set one foot in this restaurant or opened her mouth.

  • Eva set her feet a little apart and froze, looking straight ahead.
  • He squared his shoulders, set his feet wider apart, and briskly rubbed his hands together in the woodsmoke.

In the next examples set and put are synonyms:

  • Set your feet on the pedals. Your journey is about to begin!
  • Mike knew the trick, was not impressed, and set his feet up on the desk.
  • Dan cradled his beer in his lap and put his feet up on the stool.
  • Just put one foot in front of the other.
  • Gingerly he put his foot on one of the rocks and pulled himself up.

But here is a different meaning:

  • Your child wants to know your values. “Yet simply putting your foot down won’t work”. When you do say no, you have to treat it as a more complicated issue.
  • That’s when she’d finally put her foot down and threatened to move into another bedroom if Matt didn’t get treatment.
  • He thought about making it solo, and I put my foot down. I said, “There is no way you’re going to do that!”

Here is something you should beware of: putting your foot in your mouth!

  • The first chance might have gotten him a really good paying job if he could just manage to get through corporate interviews without putting his foot in his mouth.
  • Sketch comedy has been done on him putting his foot in his mouth a lot.
  • I am king at putting my foot in my mouth.
  • The duke is an extrovert with a royal habit of putting his foot in his mouth.

Saul Bellow (1915-2005), a well-known Jewish American writer, used this expression as the title of one of his books:


It was translated into Portuguese:

A synonymous expression, in Portuguese, is meter os pés pelas mãos. Now you know what it means.

Here are two collocations that do have a literal meaning, but are more often used in their figurative senses: stamp one’s feet and drag one’s feet:

  • He stamped his feet to shake the snow from his calf-wrappings and warm the blood in his feet.
  • She stamped her foot, more from the cold than in anger.

  • He shuffled along, dragging his feet and leaving parallel tracks in the dirt.
  • She walks heavily, dragging her feet.


Can you guess their figurative meanings?

  • “I said I didn’t want to!” Anne stamped her foot and settled her face in a determined pout.
  • My mother meanwhile, distracted from the snake, stamped her feet and exclaimed, “Dotty, you stop that right this minute!”
  • I stamped my foot with as much authority as a seven-year-old can muster.


  • The protesters say it is too late and accuse the military of dragging its feet.
  • So why is the White House dragging its feet and resisting any effort to fast-track the health care bill to the Supreme Court?
  • After being criticized for dragging their feet in their initial response to the Monday spill, company officials have pushed the message that they’re doing all they can to clean and contain it.


Let’s add a couple with leg/legs

  • I crossed my legs as if to form a barrier.
  • He took a cookie himself and crossed one leg over the other.
  • Only last week, she had crossed her legs and realized she was wearing one knee sock and one ankle sock.


  • Steamboat captains invited passengers to disembark, stretch their legs and walk a mile.
  • The seven-hour trip, with two short breaks to stretch your legs, climbs through a spruce forest, crosses a recent burn area…
  • It was a good excuse to stretch my legs, so I went out and helped him unload and carry the baskets into the kitchen.



When you workout, you do many of these exercises:

  • Switch legs. Do 3 to 5 times with each leg.
  • Return to the starting position and repeat for 30 seconds. Switch legs and repeat.


  • Straighten your legs, keeping them in line with your hips.
  • Lower arms out to sides in 4 counts as you straighten left leg, keeping foot off floor.


  • Lift right leg a few inches off the floor,
  • When you lift your leg, you’re toning your butt because you’re fighting gravity,


  • Extend left leg back, keeping knee straight. (Hold on to a chair for balance if needed.)
  • Sit and extend your legs straight out so that your heels are resting on the floor.

The two last ones are easy to understand too:

  • Two minutes later, she ended the call, swung her legs over the side of the bed and walked to the
  • He swung his leg over the side of the railing at the front of the box.

  • She spread her legs in her cotton candy pink heels so she would have perfect balance.
  • I tucked up my new skirt and spread my legs to either side of the saddle and we roared off on his motorcycle.
  • He sits down in that grand fat-man way he has, spreading his legs, tossing the flaps of his overcoat behind him,



That’s it for this year.  Wishing you all a great Christmas and hoping we’ll have a wonderful 2016.


Fingers crossed!!!


See you in 2016!!


Stella E. O. Tagnin
Stella E. O. Tagnin
Stella E. O. Tagnin professora associada do Departamento de Letras Modernas, FFLCH, da USP. Embora aposentada, continua orientando em nível de pós-graduação nas áreas de Tradução, Terminologia, Ensino e Aprendizagem, sempre com base na Lingüística de Corpus. É coordenadora do Projeto CoMET.e-mail: seotagni@usp.br.