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…

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 and fixed expressions – general

Idioms are fixed expressions with meanings that are usually not clear or obvious. The individual words often give you no help in deciding the meaning. The expression to feel under the weather, which means ‘to feel unwell’ is a typical idiom. The words do not tell us what it means, but the context usually helps….

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

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…

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…

The arts

Things which generally come under the heading of ‘the arts’ We often also include architecture and ceramics within the arts. The arts (plural) covers everything in the network. Art (singular, uncountable) usually means fine art, but can also refer to technique and creativity. Have you read the arts page in The Times today? [that part…

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….

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.

Specific situations and special occasions

You will know many of these expressions but may not be sure exactly how they are used. Greetings:‘hello’ Farewells:‘goodbye’ Happy occasions and celebrations Special conventions Note: In English there is no special expression when people start eating. If you want to say something, you can use the French expression Bon appetit, but it is not…

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…

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…

The physical world

Physical features Note: Sometimes you need the definite article ‘the’, e.g. The Atlantic Ocean, The Alps-sometimes no article is used, e.g. Mount Everest and Lake Titikaka. Compare this with your own language. Natural disasters A disaster is when something terrible happens, which often results in death, destruction and suffering.

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…

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:…

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…

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…

Reason, purpose and result

Reason I went home early because/as/since I was feeling a bit tired. Note: With as or since, the reason (in this example ‘feeling tired’) is often known to the listener or reader, so it is less important. It is also common to put as/since at the beginning of the sentence: ‘As/since I was feeling tired,…

The career ladder

Getting a job When Paul left school he applied for (= wrote an official request for) a job in the accounts department of a local engineering company. They gave him a job as a trainee (= a very junior person in a company). He didn’t earn very much but they gave him a lot of…

Everyday problems

There’s something wrong with… If there is a problem with a machine or a thing that you use e.g. TV, light, washing machine, computer, food mixer, pen, etc., we often use these expressions: There’s something wrong with the TV. (= there is a problem with it) The light’s not working. (= not functioning / there…

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…

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…

English language words

Parts of speech Special terms Uncountable noun: (U) a noun which has no plural form and cannot be used with the indefinite article, e.g. information. Plural noun: (pi) a noun which only has a plural form and cannot be used with the indefinite article, e.g. trousers. Infinitive: the base form of a verb, e.g. (to)…

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…

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,…

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…

Daily routines

Sleep During the week I usually wake UP at 6.30 a.m. I sometimes lie in bed for five minutes but then I have to get up (= get out of bed and get dressed). Most evenings, I go to bed at about 11.30 p.m. I’m usually very tired, so I go to sleep / fall…

Words similar to Attractive

Words similar to Attractive : beautiful – He has beautiful eyes. Cute – You have a cute dog. lovely – That is a lovely dress. stunning – Your necklace is stunning. gorgeous – They live in a gorgeous house. good-looking – She is really good-looking. handsome – He is an extremely handsome man. pretty –…

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…