At home

Places in the home You probably already know the names of most rooms and locations in a typical home. Here are some less common ones and what they are for. – utility room: usually just for washing machine, freezer, etc. – shed: small building separated from the house usually for storing garden tools – attic:…

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…

Phrasal verbs: form and meaning

Formation A phrasal verb is a verb combined with an adverb or preposition, and occasionally with an adverb and preposition. The price of petrol may go up (= increase) again next week. He fell over (= fell to the ground) when he was running for the bus. She’s promised to find out (= learn/discover) the…

Expressions With get

Get seems to be used all the time in spoken English. It has the following basic meanings: • receive, obtain or buy something, e.g. Please get me a newspaper when you’re in town; I got a letter from John today; She got top marks in her exam. • show a change in position – move…

Derivational Suffixes

There are suffixes that change the meaning of the base word or stem. These are called derivational suffixes, and some common examples are: -able -ible (capable of being) -ation -sion -tion (state of being) -ful (notable for) -fy (make or become) -ify (make or become) -ily -ise -ize (become) -ism (belief or doctrine) -ist (one…

Jobs

The medical profession These people treat (= give medical treatment and try to solve a medical problem) and look after (= care for / take care of) others: doctor, nurse, surgeon (= a specialist doctor who works in a hospital and operates on people), dentist, and vet (= animal doctor). The word ‘vet’ is a…

Keeping a vocabulary notebook

Organising your notebook Give each page or double page a title, e.g. sport, education, phrasal verbs, etc. Then, as you learn new words, record each one on a suitable page. You could also have a general index in the back of your book, with a space for each letter Then, as you learn new words,…

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…

Ages and stages

Growing up Note: For boys, the period between 14-17 approximately (slightly younger for girls) is called adolescence, i.e. you are an adolescent. In law you are an adult at the age of 18, but many people think of you as an adult when you leave school. Childhood and adolescence Sam (on the right) was born…

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…

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…

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…

Time

One thing before another : – Before I went to work I fed the cat. [or, more commonly in written English: Before going to work…] – I had written to her prior to meeting the committee, [formal/written style] – It was nice to be in Venice. Previously I’d only been to Rome, [fairly formal, more…

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…

Concession and contrast

Concession means accepting one part of a state of affairs but putting another argument or fact against it. Although they were poor, they were independent. He is a bit stupid. He’s very kind, nevertheless. Verbs of concession example paraphrase and comments I acknowledge/accept that he has -> I agree but… worked hard but it isn’t…

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…

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…

Binomials

Binomials are expressions (often idiomatic) where two words are joined by a conjunction (usually ‘and’). The order of the words is usually fixed. It is best to use them only in informal situations, with one or two exceptions. – odds and ends: small, unimportant things, e.g. Let’s get the main things packed; we can do…

Sport

Common sports Equipment – what you hold in your hand golf – club squash/tennis/badminton – racket darts – dart archery – bow cricket/table-tennis/baseball – bat hockey – stick snooker/pool/billiards – cue canoeing – paddle rowing – oar fishing – rod/line Athletics – some field events She’s a good sprinter, [fast over short distances] He’s a…

Using a dictionary

What dictionaries do I need? If possible, you should buy two dictionaries: a good bilingual dictionary and a good English-English dictionary. The bilingual dictionary is quicker and easier for you to understand; the English-English dictionary may give you more information about a word or phrase, and it is also a good idea for you to…

Idioms describing feelings or mood

Positive feelings, moods and states – Jo’s as happy as the day is long, [extremely content] – Mary seems to be on cloud nine these days, [extremely pleased/happy] – Everyone seemed to be in high spirits, [lively, enjoying things] – She seems to be keeping her chin up. [happy despite bad things] Negative feelings, moods…

Work duties conditions and pay

What do you do? People may ask you about your job. They can ask and you can answer in different ways: What do you do? I’m (+ job) e.g. a banker / an engineer / a teacher / a builder What’s your job? I work in (+ place or general area) e.g. a bank /…

Roots

Many words in English are formed from a set of Latin roots with different prefixes and suffixes. Knowing the roots of such words may help you to remember or guess their meaning when you see them in context. These words are usually fairly formal. In their formation, they can perhaps be seen as the Latinate,…

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…

Requests, invitations and suggestions

Requests and replies We use different expressions to introduce a request – it depends who we are talking to, and the ‘size’ of the request (‘big’ or ‘small’). These are some of the most common (the ‘small’ requests first), with suitable positive and negative replies. Invitations and replies Suggestions and replies Here are some common…

Everyday expressions

Everyday spoken language is full of fixed expressions that are not necessarily difficult to understand (their meaning may be quite ‘transparent’) but which have a fixed form which does not change. These have to be learnt as whole expressions. These expressions are often hard to find in dictionaries, so listen out for them. Conversation-building expressions…

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…

SYNONYMS

LIST OF SYNONYMS (A & B ) Word Synonym Word Synonym Abroad Overseas Away Absent Admit Confess Awful Terrible Agree Consent Baby Infant Alike Same Backbone Spine Allow Permit Beautiful Pretty Almost Nearly Begin Start Amount Quantity Behave Act Angry Mad Belly Stomach Annoy Irritate Big Large Answer Reply Blank Empty Appear Seem Brave Bold…

Idioms – miscellaneous

Idioms connected with paying, buying and selling – He bought a real pig in a poke when he got that car. [buy something without examining it properly first] – We’ll probably have to pay over the odds for a hotel room during the week of the festival.[pay more than the usual rate] – He did…