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,…

Possession, giving and lending

Possession All his possessions were destroyed in the terrible fire, [everything he owned; always plural in this meaning] Don’t leave any of your belongings here; we’ve had a few thefts recently, [smaller things, e.g. bag, camera, coat; always plural] Estate in the singular can mean a big area of private land and the buildings on…

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’)…

Similarities, differences and conditions

Similarities These are ways of saying that two or more things are similar, or have something the same. Peter is similar to (= like) his brother in many ways. Peter and his brother are very similar. Peter and his brother are quite alike. Maria and Rebecca both passed their exams. (= Maria passed and Rebecca…

Money – buying, selling and paying

Personal finance Sometimes in a shop they ask you: ‘How do you want to pay?’ You can answer: ‘Cash / By cheque / By credit card.’ In a bank you usually have a current account, which is one where you pay in your salary and then withdraw money to pay your everyday bills. The 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,…

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 –…

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…

Silent Letters

U biscuit build circuit disguise guilty league rogue vague guess guest guide guitar antique K knack knee kneel knife knight knit knob knot know knuckle S aisle island debris G align campaign design foreign malign reign sign assign gnarled gnash gnat gnaw gnome D handkerchief handsome Wednesday sandwich N autumn column condemn damn hymn solemn…

Around the home I

Rooms The living room or lounge (= where you sit, relax, talk and watch TV); the dining room- the kitchen; the bedroom(s); and the bathroom(s). ’ Some people also have a study (= room with a desk where you work), a utility room (= a room usually next to the kitchen, where you have a…

Proverbs

Speakers tend to use proverbs to comment on a situation, often at the end of a true story someone has told, or in response to some event. As with all idiomatic expressions, they are useful and enjoyable to know and understand, but should be used with care. Warnings/advice/morals – do’s and don’ts Key elements Proverbs…

Distances and dimensions

You probably know all the common words for distances and dimensions. In this unit we shall concentrate on derived words and compounds and other connected words/phrases you may not know or be unsure of how to use accurately. Broad and wide and tall and high Wide is more common than broad, e.g. It’s a very…

Adjectives

‘Scale’ and ‘limit’ adjectives Adjectives ending -ing and -ed There is a large group of adjectives which can have an -ing or -ed ending. The -ing ending is used on adjectives which describe a person or thing or situation; the -ed ending is on adjectives which describe the effect this person, thing or situation has…

Towns

Look at this description of Cork, one of Ireland’s main towns. Underline any words or phrases that might be useful for describing your own or any other town. Cork city is the major metropolis of the south; indeed with a population of about 135,000 it is the second largest city in the Republic. The main…

Prefixes

Prefixes are often used to give adjectives a negative meaning. The opposite of ‘comfortable’ is ‘uncomfortable’, the opposite of ‘convenient’ is ‘inconvenient’ and the opposite of ‘similar’ is ‘dissimilar’. Other examples are ‘unjust’, ‘inedible’, ‘disloyal’. Unfortunately, there is no easy way of knowing which prefix any adjective will use to form its opposite. When you…

Miscellaneous expressions

The units which deal with phrasal verbs and other expressions present only a small number of the expressions that exist. There are many others based on both the basic verbs focused on in Units and on a whole range of other verbs. This unit looks at some other verbs, giving examples of a few of…

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,…

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…

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…

What animals do

Cats mew when they’re hungry, purr when they’re happy and caterwaul when they’re on the roof at midnight. Dogs bark. They also growl when they’re angry. Lions roar. Sheep and goats bleat, horses neigh and pigs grunt. Cows moo. Frogs croak and ducks quack. Cocks crow, hens cluck and owls hoot. N.B. All these verbs…

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…

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…

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…

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…

Classroom language

Equipment These are some of the things you may use in your classroom or school. Note: We can use some of these nouns as verbs with little or no change: to video (= to record a programme on video), to photocopy (= to use the photocopier), to highlight and to file (= to put things…

Countable and uncountable with different meanings

When we use a noun countably we are thinking of specific things; when we use it uncountably we are thinking of stuff or material or the idea of a thing in general. Here are some more nouns used in both ways. Make sure you know the difference between the uncountable and the countable meaning. drink…