Family and friends

Relatives (= members of your family) These are the most important relatives (also called relations): Family background (= family history) My grandfather was a market gardener in Ireland. He grew flowers, fruit and vegetables, and sold them in the market every day. He worked hard all his life, and when he died, his son (now…

Cinema

Types of films: Do you like westerns? No, I like science fiction films best. The best action film I’ve seen was Goldfinger with James Bond. If I see a horror film, I can’t sleep. People in films: Zelda Glitzberg is a film star. She lives in Hollywood. She is in the new James Bond film….

Time

Prepositions: at, on, in: Words often confused: Some time prepositions are easily confused. These are common problems: I will stay here until she phones. (= I will go after she has phoned) I will be in the office until 4 o’clock. (= I will leave the office at 4 o’clock) I will be in the…

Text-referring words

Text-referring words are ones that pick up their content from the surrounding text. This sentence in isolation does not mean much: We decided to look at the problem again and try to find a solution. What problem? We need to refer to some other sentence or to the context to find out. Problem and solution…

Time words (2)

Time in relation to now: Now means at this moment. Then means at another moment (usually in the past). When we talk about time in general, we talk about the past, the present and the future. We talk about the past, the present and the future forms of the verb, for example In the past…

Idioms connected with praise and criticism

Idioms connected with praise Saying people/things are better than the rest – Mary is head and shoulders above the rest of the girls, or She’s miles better than the other girls. [used usually of people] – When it comes to technology, Japan is streets ahead of most other countries. [can be used of people or…

How to Read English the Right Way to Progress Faster

“The more you read the more things you’ll know. The more that you learn the more places you’ll go.” – Dr Seuss Reading is a great way to build your vocabulary. Try to read all that you can in English. Appropriate material for your level of English. A very good system of reading is to find…

Best English Learning Resources Online & Apps

“Know what tools you have to fulfill your purpose.”― Steve Maraboli You are such a lucky English learner, because there are so many wonderful resources online to help speed up your learning today. We’ve already mentioned a few amazing resources. Like Skype and Italki.com for speaking daily with native speakers. Vis-Ed.com, Anki App and Google Images for flashcards….

Towns

Look at this description of Cork, one of Ireland’s main towns. Underline any words or phrases that might be useful for describing your own or any other town. Cork city is the major metropolis of the south; indeed with a population of about 135,000 it is the second largest city in the Republic. The main…

Distances and dimensions

You probably know all the common words for distances and dimensions. In this unit we shall concentrate on derived words and compounds and other connected words/phrases you may not know or be unsure of how to use accurately. Broad and wide and tall and high Wide is more common than broad, e.g. It’s a very…

Idioms connected with using language

Idioms connected with communication problems Good talk, bad talk The boss always talks down to us. [talks as if we were inferior] My work-mates are always talking behind my back, [saying negative things about me when I’m not there] It was just small talk, nothing more, I promise, [purely social talk, nothing serious] Let’s sit…

Slang

Slang is a particular kind of colloquial language. It refers to words and expressions which are extremely informal. Slang helps to make speech vivid, colourful and interesting but it can easily be used inappropriately. Although slang is mainly used in speech, it is also often found in the popular press. It can be risky for…

Education

Stages in a person’s education Here are some names that are used to describe the different types of education in Britain. Note: Comprehensive schools in the UK are for all abilities, but grammar schools are usually by competitive entry. Public schools in the UK are very famous private schools. Polytechnics are similar to universities, but…

Shapes, Colours and Patterns

Shapes: a square box, a round table, a pointed end, a rectangular field, an oval shape. Note: We can also form adjectives to describe shapes in this way: The ball was egg-shaped; a heart-shaped wedding cake; a diamond-shaped bag. Colours: You will already know most of the common colours. Here are some that are less…

Distance, size and dimension

Distance: The most common way of asking about distance is probably: How far is it? Here are two more common questions, and some expressions often used in the reply. Note: We can use far in a question or negative but not in a positive statement on its own, e.g. we don’t say ‘it’s far’, we…

The six senses

Our basic five senses are sight, hearing, taste, touch and smell. What is sometimes referred to as a ‘sixth sense’ is a power to be aware of things independently of the five physical senses, a kind of supernatural sense. The five basic verbs referring to the senses are modified by an adjective rather than an…

Everyday problems

Things that go wrong in houses and flats Everyday minor injuries Other everyday problems – I’ve mislaid Bob’s letter. Have you seen it anywhere? [put it somewhere and can’t find it] – She spilt some coffee on the carpet. I hope it doesn’t stain, [leave a permanent mark] – I overslept this morning and was…

Prefixes

Prefixes (at the beginning of words) can help you to understand what a new word means. Here are some common prefixes. An ex-wife is a wife who is now divorced. President Gorbachev is an ex-President of Russia. A half-hour journey is a journey of 30 minutes. Something that cost £10 yesterday and costs £5 today…

Clothes

Clothes: Plural words: These words are always plural in English. They need a plural verb. My suit is new but these trousers are old. Her shorts/jeans/tights are blue. Note: You say: a pair of shorts/glasses/trousers, etc. Verbs: You wear clothes but you carry things. [NOT you «se- clothes] Naomi is wearing a long red coat….

Make, do, have, take

There are many common expressions with these verbs, and often they are different in other languages, so you need to learn them. Things we make Things we do Things we have Things we take

Onomatopoeic words

Onomatopoeic words are those which seem to sound like their meaning. The most obvious examples are verbs relating to the noises which animals make, e.g. cows moo and cats mew or meow. If the vowel sound in a word is short, an onomatopoeic word usually signifies a short, sharp sound. If it is long (indicated…

Take took taken

Take with time (it + take + person + time) It takes Alan 20 minutes to get to work. Alan’s house —? 20 minutes —? Alan’s office It takes Miriam 45 minutes to get to work. Miriam’s flat —? 45 minutes —? Miriam’s office I go to school/university every day. It takes me 30 minutes….

Memory Tricks to Remember New English Words Instantly

“You are well equipped with an incredible potential for absorbing knowledge. Let your imagination, the key to learning and memory, unleash that brain power and propel you along at ever-increasing speeds.” – Dominic O’BrienImagination is the fuel of learning. Your memory is very visual. All our brains work better with imagery. And if you can…

Idioms connected with problematic situations

Problems and difficulties Idioms related to situations based on get – This has to be done by next week; we must get our act together before it’s too late. [organise ourselves to respond; informal] – We need a proper investigation to get to the bottom of things, [find the true explanation for the state of…

Countries, nationalities and languages

Who speaks what where? The people When you are talking about people in general from a particular country, there are some nationalities that you can make plural with an ‘s’, but others can only be formed with the definite article (and no plural ‘s’): Note: • With both groups you can also use the word…

The press and media

The term the mass media in English refers basically to TV, radio and newspapers: means of communication which reach very large numbers of people. This page looks at some useful words for talking about the mass media and about publishing in general. Radio and television Types of TV programmes: documentaries news broadcasts current affairs programmes…

Words that only occur in the plural

Tools, instruments, pieces of equipment  Some of these are always plural. Things we wear Some other useful words When I move to London, I’ll have to find lodgings, [e.g. a room] When will the goods be delivered? [articles/items] The architect inspected the foundations before declaring that the premises were safe. The military authorities have established…

Jobs

What’s his/her job? Job (noun) and work (verb): What’s your job? or What do you do? I’m a waiter. Where do you work? I work in a restaurant. Is it an interesting job? Yes, I like it. Workplaces: I work in a factory / an office etc. I work at/from home.

Verbs + -ing form or infinitive

Verb + -ing form Some verbs are followed by an -ing form if the next word is a verb: enjoy finish imagine (don’t) mind can’t stand (= hate) feel like (= want/desire infml) give up (= stop doing something for the last time) avoid (If you avoid something, you keep away from it; if you…

Adverbs: frequency and degree

Frequency (= how often) Degree (= how much) Almost/nearly It’s almost/nearly five o’clock. (= it is probably about 4.57) I almost/nearly lost the match. (= I won but only just; only by a small amount) Note: almost the same not Hardly Hardly + a positive often has the same meaning as almost + a negative:…