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…

Town and country

Towns Here are some of the things you will find in most big towns. a commercial centre: an area with lots of banks and company offices shopping centres: places with many shops, either indoors or outdoors car parks: places to leave many cars factories: buildings where you make/manufacture things, e.g. cars suburbs: areas outside the…

Around the home 2

The bedroom I put on my pyjamas, got into bed, set the alarm clock, switched off the light, and went to sleep. The bathroom I didn’t have time for a bath, but I had a wash, cleaned my teeth, and then I went to school. Housework (U) My room is very clean and tidy (=…

Expressions with bring and take

Here are some common phrasal verbs with bring. Each is exemplified in a typical spoken sentence and a more formal equivalent is provided in brackets. – I was brought up in the country, [raise] – Don’t give up. I’m sure you’ll bring it off. [succeed] – Cold winds always bring on her cough, [cause to…

Words commonly mispronounced

English spelling is notoriously unphonetic. This page looks at some of the words which cause most pronunciation difficulties for learners of English. The phonetic transcription is provided for some of the words below. If you are not sure of the pronunciation of any of the other words, check in the index at the back of…

Compound adjectives

Formation and pronunciation A compound adjective is formed from two different words, and occasionally three. They are usually written with a hyphen (e.g. good-looking, well-known), and the stress is usually the same on both parts of the compound. Describing people Many compound adjectives describe a person’s appearance, character, and situation. This is William. He isn’t…

Uncountable words

Uncountable nouns are not normally used with a(n) or the plural, e.g. information, not an information, or some informations. It is a good idea to learn uncountable nouns in groups associated with the same subject or area. Here are some possible headings. Travel is also an uncountable noun, e.g. Travel broadens the mind. Day-to-day household…

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…

Describing people – appearance

Hair, face, skin and complexion He used to have black hair but it’s gone grey,almost white. What sort of person would you like to go out with? Blonde, fair, dark or ginger-haired / red-haired? She has such beautiful auburn hair. [red-brown] Fair and dark can be used for hair, complexion or skin. Height and build…

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…

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…

Cause, reason, purpose and result

Cause and reason You probably know how to use words like because, since and as to refer to the cause of or reason for something. Here are some other ways of connecting clauses to express causes and reasons. Note how verbs and nouns can do the same job as conjunctions. Look at the picture of…

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…

US English

English in the USA differs considerably from British English. Pronunciation is the most striking difference but there are also a number of differences in vocabulary and spelling as well as slight differences in grammar. On the whole, British people are exposed to a lot of American English on TV, in films and so on and…

Prepositions: place

At, On, In Learn these rules. Opposites Some prepositions form pairs of opposites. Note: Over/above are often synonymous, so are under/below, but over and under sometimes suggest movement. When we flew over Paris we couldn’t see much because we were above the clouds. Below us was the river which ran under the bridge. Here are…

Animals and insects

Pets and farm animals Many people keep pets (= domestic animals that live with people) in Britain. The most common are dogs and cats, but children in particular sometimes keep mice (singular = a mouse) and rabbits. Farm animals include: sheep, pigs, cows, horses, chickens and goats. Note: The word ‘sheep’ is the singular and…

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…

The language of notices

Notices in English often use words and expressions that are rarely seen in other contexts. Look at the notices below with their ‘translations’ into more everyday English. You will find more examples of a specific kind of notice, road signs.

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…

The body and what it does

Parts of the body Physical actions You can breathe through your nose or your mouth. Most people breathe about 12-15 times a minute. People smile when they’re happy, or to be polite; they laugh when people say something funny; they may cry when they’re sad; they yawn when they’re tired, or bored. Many people nod…

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…

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…

Words with interesting origins – people and places

A number of words in English have originated from the names of people, biro: [ball-point pen] named after Laszlo Biro, its Hungarian inventor boycott: [refuse to deal with or a refusal to deal with] after a landlord in Ireland who made himself unpopular by his treatment of his tenants and was socially isolated braille: [name…

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….

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:…

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…

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]…

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…

Headline English

Headline writers try to catch the reader’s eye by using as few words as possible. The language headlines use is, consequently, unusual in a number of ways. • Grammar words like articles or auxiliary verbs are often left out, e.g. EARLY CUT FORECAST IN INTEREST RATES • A simple form of the verb is used,…

Words with -ence and -ance

Words with -ence and -ance : — ence acquiescence, adherence, adolescence, audience, circumference, coincidence, concurrence, conference, confidence, confluence, conscience, consequence, convenience, correspondence, defence, dependence, difference, eloquence, excellence, existence, experience, impertinence, impudence, independence, indifference, influence, innocence, insistence, insolence, intelligence, interference, lenience, licence, magnificence, negligence, obedience, occurrence, offence, patience, penitence, permanence, persistence, precedence, preference, presence, prudence, reminiscence,…