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Your English: Collocations: cast

Type: Article

Tim Bowen casts new light on the verb to cast and its collocates.

The irregular verb cast, originally meaning to throw, is used in a number of expressions. If you cast your eye over something, you have a quick look at it, as in ‘Could you just cast your eye over this report?’ If someone or something casts doubt on something, they make it seem less certain, good or real, as in ‘There is some fresh information that casts doubt on his integrity’. Fishermen cast a net to catch fish, but we don't cast a ball.

If you cast your mind back, you think about something that happened in the past, especially in order to remember something important, e.g. ‘Try to cast your mind back to the last conversation you had with her'. To cast (new/fresh) light on something means to provide new information that helps people understand something more clearly, as in ‘Human genome research is casting new light on Alzheimer’s disease’.

Traditionally it is witches who cast spells (use magic to make something happen to someone) but places can also cast a spell, e.g. 'Stonehenge never fails to cast a spell over the traveller', as can people, e.g. 'From the very first song her voice cast a spell on the audience’.

The sun can, of course, cast a shadow, as in ‘The setting sun cast long shadows across the fields’. Used metaphorically, cast a shadow means to make a situation seem less hopeful and more likely to end badly, as in 'Last night's killings cast a dark shadow over the peace talks’.

Finally, if you live in a democracy, don’t forget to cast your vote at the next election.

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