Countries, nationalities and languages

Using ‘the’ Most names of countries are used without ‘the’, but some countries and other names have ‘the’ before them, e.g. The USA, The United Kingdom / UK, The Commonwealth. Some countries may be referred to with or without ‘the’ (the) Lebanon, (the) Gambia, (the) Ukraine, (the) Sudan. Adjectives referring to countries and languages With-ish:…

Science and technology

You are probably familiar with the traditional branches of science e.g. chemistry, physics, botany and zoology. But what about these newer fields? – genetic engineering: the study of the artificial manipulation of the make-up of living things – molecular biology: the study of the structure and function of the organic molecules associated with living organisms…

Describing character

Opposites Many positive words describing character have clear opposites with a negative meaning. Jane is very tense at the moment because of her exams, but she’s usually quite relaxed and easy-going about most things. I think the weather influences me a lot: when it’s sunny I feel more cheerful and optimistic; but when it’s cold…

Travel

Look at the table of some basic travel vocabulary. Highlight any of the words that you are not sure about and look them up in your dictionary. Words at sea Traditionally sailors use different words at sea – a bedroom is a cabin, a bed is a bunk, the kitchen on a ship is a…

Prefixes

With the meaning‘not’ Prefixes (un-, in-, il-, ir-, and dis-) are often used to give adjectives (and some verbs and nouns) a negative meaning. Here are common examples: happy unhappy like (v) dislike (v) possible impossible legal illegal (= against the law) correct incorrect regular irregular, e.g. irregular verbs un- is used with many different…

Sound and light

General words to describe sound – I could hear the sound of voices/music coming from the next room, [neutral] – Our neighbours had a party last night. The noise went on till 3 a.m. [loud, unpleasant sounds] – I tried hard to hear what she was saying above the din of the traffic, [very loud,…

Money

Notes and coins Here are some examples of British money. The currency (= the type of money used in a country) is called sterling. Common verbs Notice how these common verbs are used. Adjectives Important words and phrases I can’t afford (= don’t have enough money) to go on holiday this year. How much is…

Success, failure and difficulty

Succeeding I managed to contact him just before he left his office. I don’t think I can manage the whole walk. I think I’ll turn back, [manage, but not succeed, may have a direct object in this meaning] We succeeded in persuading a lot of people to join our protest, [in + -ing] We’ve achieved/accomplished…

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…

Idioms describing people

A Positive and negative qualities Note also: – He’s such an awkward customer, [difficult person to deal with] – She’s a pain in the neck. Nobody likes her. [nuisance, difficult] – He gets on everyone’s nerves, [irritates everybody] B People’s ‘fast’ and ‘slow’ qualities How people relate to the social norm – She’s a bit…

Adjective suffixes

Suffixes change word class, e.g. from verb to noun or noun to adjective, but they can also change meaning (see sections B and C below). Noun or verb + suffix Note: Sometimes there is a spelling change. Here are common examples: double the consonant, e.g. sun/sunny, fog/foggy leave out the final ‘e’, e.g. create/creative, fame/famous…

Give, keep, break, catch, see

These common verbs have many different meanings (some of them in other parts of this book). This unit looks at some important meanings of these verbs, and in some cases they combine with specific nouns, e.g. give someone a ring, break the law, etc. You can learn these as expressions. Give I’ll give you a…

Phrasal verbs: grammar and style

Grammar: intransitive verbs Some phrasal verbs are intransitive and do not need a direct object. The children are growing up. (= getting older and more mature) The doctor told me to lie down on the bed. Don’t wait out there. Please come in. (= enter) I’m going to stay in (= stay at home) this…

Collocation (word partners)

What is collocation? If you want to use a word naturally, you need to learn the other words that often go with it (word partners). These can be very different from language to language. For example, in English we say: I missed the bus (= I didn’t catch the bus) [NOT I lost the bus]…

Abbreviations

Some abbreviations are read as individual letters: – WHO (W-H-O) World Health Organisation IRA Irish Republican Army – PLO Palestine Liberation Organisation UN United Nations – BBC British Broadcasting Corporation PM Prime Minister – ANC African National Congress MP Member of Parliament In the following three cases, the name of each country and the name…

Describing people’s appearance

General Positive: beautiful is generally used to describe women; handsome is used to describe men; good-looking is used for both; pretty is another positive word to describe a woman (often a girl) meaning ‘attractive and nice to look at’. Negative: ugly is the most negative word to describe someone; plain is more polite. Height and…

Numbers and shapes

Anyone who works with any branch of science or technology needs to be able to talk about figures. Notice how the following are said in English. All scientists and technologists also need to be able to talk about shapes. Note the names of the shapes below. Two-dimensional shapes A rectangle has four right angles. A…

Expressions with Look

This diagram illustrates some of the most useful phrasal verbs formed with look. The meaning of the phrasal verb is given in brackets. Here are a few more useful phrasal verbs based on look. All of them are illustrated below in a business context but they can also, of course, be used in other situations….

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…

Expressions With come and go

Here are some phrasal verbs based on come. – Did the meeting you were planning ever come off? [take place] – I don’t think his jokes ever quite come off. [succeed] – When do the exam results come out? [be published, made public] – The mark on the carpet won’t come out. [be removed] –…

Apologies, excuses, and thanks

Apologies (= saying sorry) We can apologise (= say sorry) in different ways in different situations: Note: In formal situations (especially in writing), we often use apologise and apology: I must apologise for (being late). I would like to apologise for (the delay. Unfortunately, …) Please accept our apologies for the mistakes in your order….

Pleasant and unpleasant feelings

Happiness and unhappiness You feel: ecstatic when you are madly in love or are spiritually uplifted for some reason. content(ed) when you are peaceful and satisfied with what you have. Notice that content is not used before a noun. You can say ‘She is content’ or ‘She is contented’ but only ‘a contented person’, cheerful…

Human feelings and actions

Feelings Note: • Pride has different meanings, but the most common is the feeling of satisfaction you have because you (or people you are connected with) have done something well. He was very proud when his wife became the first President of the organisation. • Jealousy is a feeling of anger and unhappiness you may…

Uncountable nouns and plural nouns

Uncountable nouns Uncountable nouns (e.g. information): – don’t have a plural form (information*); – are used with a singular verb (the information ate); – cannot be used with the indefinite article ‘a/an’. (I want a«-information) These uncountable nouns are often countable in other languages. Look at them carefully. He refused to give me more information…

Learning and revising

Establish a routine A routine means doing certain things regularly in the same way. And if you are using this book for self-study (= to study alone), it helps to have a routine. Decide how much time you can spend on the book each day or each week. If you are studying a unit for…

Expressions With set and put

Look at the examples of following phrasal verbs based on set. – You should set aside some money for a rainy day. [reserve] – He tried to set aside his dislike of his daughter’s fiance, [ignore (not think about)] – We should set off before dawn to get there on time, [begin a journey] –…

Business and finance

Banks and businesses Most businesses need to borrow money to finance (= pay for) investments (= things they need to buy in order to help the company, e.g. machines). The money they borrow from the bank is called a loan, and on this loan they have to pay interest, e.g. if you borrow £1,000 and…

Using the land

Ground and soil When we walk, our feet are on the ground (= the general word for the surface of the earth). For the top part of the ground where grass and flowers grow, we use the word soil. There were no seats in the park, so we had to sit on the ground. The…

Words with interesting origins – from other languages

English has taken over words from most of the other languages with which it has had contact. It has taken many expressions from the ancient languages, Latin and Greek, and these borrowings usually have academic or literary associations. From French, English has taken lots of words to do with cooking, the arts, and a more…

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…