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…

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.

Health: illness and disease

Common problems Note: For these illnesses, you can either buy something from the chemist, or go to your doctor, who may give you a prescription (= a piece of paper with an order for some medicine) that you get from the chemist. Aches and pains Nouns: We only use ache with the following: I’ve got…

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…

Go Uses and expressions

Come vs. go Go usually expresses a movement away from the position the speaker is in now; come expresses a movement towards the speaker. Imagine you are at school. The time is 9.30 a.m. I had to go to Jimmy’s to pick up some books; then I went to the post office before I came…

Food

Fruit Vegetables Salad A salad is a mixture of uncooked vegetables. The main ingredient in a salad is lettuce, but it may also contain tomato, cucumber, and other things. Animals (meat), fish and shellfish

Condition

As well as if, there are a number of other words and phrases for expressing condition. 1. You can’t come in unless you have a ticket. 2. You can borrow the bike on condition that you return it by five o’clock. 3. In case of fire, dial 333. [usually seen on notices ; it means…

Transport

Vehicles Vehicle is the genera! word for all types of road transport. A: How did you get here? B: I came by bus. A: And the others? B: Sue and John came by car. A: And Paul? B: He missed the bus, so he had to take a taxi. Catch a bus,take a taxi Railway…

Homes and buildings

Houses Flats I live in a block of flats. My brother lives on the ground floor, and I have a flat on the third floor. Unfortunately there is no lift, so I have to climb three flights of stairs to reach my flat. But I do have a balcony with a wonderful view of the…

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,…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Time

Periods of time – words and typical contexts – The Ice Age The Stone Age The Middle Ages The age of the computer. [major historical/geological periods] – After the war, a new era of peace began, [long period, perhaps several decades] – The doctor said I needed a period of rest and relaxation, so I’m…

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…

Texture, brightness, weight and density

Texture – how something feels when you touch it Your hair has a silky feel. This cotton is very smooth to the touch. The table had a beautiful polished surface. The ground was rough underfoot. Brightness – some adjectives – You wear such dull colours: why not get some brighter clothes? – This torch is…

Compound Nouns – verb + preposition

A large number of compound nouns (see Unit 13) are based on phrasal verbs. In Sections B to E you will see a number of examples of such nouns in context. The meaning of the compound noun is indicated in brackets at the end of the sentence. To form the plural, ‘s’ is added to…

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…

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….

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…

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…

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…

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…

Problems with pronunciation

Phonetics With many languages you can look at a word and know (more or less) how to pronounce it. With English this is not true: it is often very difficult to know the pronunciation from looking at a word. For example: cough (pronounced like ‘off’) enough (like ‘stuff’) through (like ‘too’) and dough (like ‘so’)…

The weather

In Scandinavia, the chilly (1) days of autumn soon change to the cold days of winter. The first frosts (2) arrive and the roads become icy. Rain becomes sleet (3) and then snow, at first turning to slush (4) in the streets, but soon settling (5), with severe blizzards (6) and snowdrifts (7) in the…

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…

Food

vegetables: cabbage cauliflower broccoli spinach cucumber courgettes (Am. Eng: zucchini) aubergines (Am. Eng: egg plants) leeks meat: venison liver kidneys veal fish: cod hake plaice whiting mackerel herring sardine trout salmon /’sasman/ seafood: prawns shrimps crab lobster crayfish squid cockles mussels oysters herbs: parsley rosemary thyme chives oregano tarragon sage spices: curry cinnamon ginger nutmeg…

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…

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…