COMMON IDIOMS IN USE 6

English@HighSchool would never be complete without idioms, proverbs, and expressions which are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms and proverbs don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms and try to decipher their meanings.

An idiom is a common expression understood figuratively, as the literal definition makes no sense.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegEach sentence given below contains a boldfaced idiom/phrase which is explained at the end.

  1. When the boy was caught stealing, everyone thought he would receive a severe punishment, but all he got was a slap on the wrist. This means that he received a very light and easy punishment.
  2. We thought that our neighbours were rich beyond our wildest dreams, but it turns out that we’re all in the same boat. This means that we were in very similar situations.
  3. If Ella thinks that I’m going to let her copy my math homework, she’s barking up the wrong tree. This means that Ella is asking the wrong person.
  4. United thought that they would easily beat Spurs, but when it was tied with a minute left, they knew that this game was really coming down to the wire. This means that the outcome of the game was not going to be clear until the very end.
  5. We thought Janet would be a good worker, but it turns out that she can’t cut the mustard. This means that Janet cannot perform the necessary duties.
  6. Marwa wanted to get down to brass tacks, but the lawyer kept chatting about the weather. This means that she wanted to talk about the important issues.
  7. The lawyer knew that beating around the bush would get Marwa all worked up. This means that the lawyer wanted to waste time.
  8. After playing for three straight games, Paul was beginning to run out of steam. This means that Paul was getting tired.
  9. Don’t get so worked up, mate. She’s only pulling your leg. This means that she is lying or fooling around.
  10. Jane decided that she would go out on a limb and ask Byron out. This means that she would take a chance.
  11. Tad was too tired to finish the assignment, so he decided to hit the hay. This means that he was going to sleep.
  12. Pearl was excited when she found out that she would have her own front row parking spot at the university, but that was just the icing on the cake. This means that she would receive greater benefits than the parking spot.
  13. Ever since Amy’s uncle bought the farm, she’s been faced with the difficult decision of dividing the inheritance amongst the family. This means that he died.
  14. Working at the Burger King was at first overwhelming to Aaron, but now he knows the ropes. This means that he learned how to perform his duties.
  15. Julie thought her mom would let her go to the party, but had no dice. This means that things did not go the way that she wanted them to go.

blur book close up data

How about learning the following idioms?

a. To “take it with a grain of salt” means to treat something as insignificant.

b. To “sell like hotcakes” means that something is selling very quickly.

c. Toget in a pickle” means to get stuck in a difficult situation.

d. To shed “crocodile tears” is to cry tears or display sadness that is not sincere.

e. To “push the envelope” is to go beyond what is normal or expected.

f. To “turn the other cheek” is to forgive an act of aggression.

g. To “go against the grain” is to oppose or resist a strong force.

How did you find these idioms? Please leave a comment below.

Good luck in all your efforts.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.

 

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COMMON IDIOMS IN USE 5

English@HighSchool would never be complete without idioms, proverbs, and expressions which are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English. Because idioms and proverbs don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you  really master them.

red heart on a old opened book

An idiom is a common expression understood figuratively, as the literal definition makes no sense.

Read the sentence and match its definition on the right:

1. We’ve had some big disagreements over the years, but it’s all water under the bridge now. We get on fine. The belief that outside appearances do not reveal what someone or something is really like
2. You are what you eat so it’s better to have a healthy diet. Annoying or irritating somebody
3. You can’t judge a book by its cover. I need to get to know him before I decide what he is like. Things from the past that are not important anymore
4. We’re really working against the clock now. We must hurry. Telling someone who is getting ahead of themselves to wait / be patient
5. Why are we bothering? We’re flogging a dead horse. Our online business is making no money, so we should move on and do something else. Good luck
6. I bent over backwards to help him. I hope he appreciates it. To put forward a side in an argument that may not be your own in order to show the counter-argument / ensure all sides are discussed
7. So you have the Idioms test today? Break a leg. If you eat bad food, you’ll be unhealthy, if you eat good food, you’ll be healthy
8. Ok, I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but if marijuana is legalized, isn’t it more likely young people will smoke it? Doing all you can to help someone
9. Hold your horses! We haven’t won anything yet. Not having enough time to do something
10. She is driving me up the wall. She won’t stop talking. Attempting to continue with something that is finished / over

Did you get all ten correct? Chances are, you are doing great. Good luck in all your endeavours. Below is the answer key:

1. We’ve had some big disagreements over the years, but it’s all water under the bridge now. We get on fine. Things from the past that are not important anymore
2. You are what you eat so it’s better to have a healthy diet. If you eat bad food, you’ll be unhealthy, if you eat good food, you’ll be healthy
3. You can’t judge a book by its cover. I need to get to know him before I decide what he is like. The belief that outside appearances do not reveal what someone or something is really like
4. We’re really working against the clock now. We must hurry. Not having enough time to do something
5. Why are we bothering? We’re flogging a dead horse. Our online business is making no money, so we should move on and do something else. Attempting to continue with something that is finished / over
6. I bent over backwards to help him. I hope he appreciates it. Doing all you can to help someone
7. So you have the Idioms test today? Break a leg. Good luck
8. Ok, I’m playing devil’s advocate here, but if marijuana is legalized, isn’t it more likely young people will smoke it? To put forward a side in an argument that may not be your own in order to show the counter-argument / ensure all sides are discussed
9. Hold your horses! We haven’t won anything yet. Telling someone who is getting ahead of themselves to wait / be patient
10. She is driving me up the wall. She won’t stop talking. Annoying or irritating somebody

pexels-photo-634848.jpegJust to wet your appetite, here are some more idioms to study as they are used in sentences. Try to complete the sentence by choosing the correct idiom. Answers are given at the end.

  1. A rolling stone gathers no ______, so one should stick to what one is doing. (A) dust       (B) moss     (C) weeds       (D) dirt
  2. You do not need to argue because ______ always speak louder than words. (A) actions   (B) ideas      (C) performances      (D) results
  3. Birds of a feather ______ together. So, it is not surprising to see the two hang around all the time. (A) go   (B) fly      (C) hatch       (D) flock
  4. You must draw a _______ between what you can and cannot do. (A) distinction     (B) parallel       (C) difference      (D) line
  5. New ______ sweep clean, but I doubt if the new boss can sustain this pace. (A) brooms     (B) laws      (C) cloths       (D) mops
  6. Granny used to ______ yearns about her experiences during the Japanese Occupation. (A) tell       (B) knit      (C) speak       (D) spin
  7. She pulled _____ in order to get the job. (A) plugs       (B) strings      (C) threads       (D) connections
  8. He stayed calm and did not turn a ______. (A) head       (B) nose       (C) hair       (D) foot
  9. There is no ______ and fast rule to do the job. The most important thing is to finish it as fast as you can. (A) fit       (B) hard       (C) far       (D) hold
  10. He let the ______ out of the bag and announced the new plan to the staff. (A) cat       (B) dog       (C) bunny       (D) mouse
  11. You should keep him at _____ length because he may have a bad influence on you. (A) arm’s      (B) foot’s      (C) hand’s       (D) shoulder’s
  12. He is sitting on the ______, trying to see which side he should cheer for. (A) ledge     (B) fence      (C) edge       (D) gate
  13. He is willing to play second ______ although he obviously has much better skills. (A) hand     (B) fiddle      (C) thought       (D) chance
  14. Do not worry. I have the whole plan at my ______. (A) mind     (B) heart      (C) hands       (D) fingertips
  15. Get the job first. A bird in the hand is worth two in the ______. (A) cage     (B) wood      (C) bush       (D) forest
  16. I paid through the ______ for the over-priced video game. (A) blood       (B) nose      (C) head       (D) heart
  17. Janet broke the ______ and started a conversation with the shy boy. (A) quiet       (B) snow      (C) air       (D) ice
  18. We have to nip the problem in the ______ or it will grow out of control. (A) bud       (B) root       (C) stalk       (D) seed
  19. He held his ______ and managed to keep the secret to himself. (A) lips       (B) tongue       (C) mouth       (D) teeth
  20. She is a ______ and it takes time for her to learn all the skills needed for the job. (A) green leaf       (B) greenhorn       (C) green finger       (D) green grass

Answers:  1B   2A   3D   4D   5A   6D   7B   8C   9B   10A 11A   12B   13B   14D   15C   16B   17D   18A   19B   20B

Good luck in your endeavours.

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.

COMMON IDIOMS IN USE 4

English@HighSchool would never be complete without idioms, proverbs and expressions which are an important part of everyday English. They come up all the time in both written and spoken English.

Because idioms and proverbs don’t always make sense literally, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the meaning and usage of each idiom. That may seem like a lot of work, but learning idioms is fun, especially when you compare English idioms to other idioms in other languages.

An idiom is a common expression understood figuratively, as the literal definition makes no sense.

man in black and white polo shirt beside writing board

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Read the sentence and match its definition on the right:

Common Idioms

Definitions

1. Let’s keep studying for English. Practice makes perfect. To sense that something is not right
2. Don’t get upset about what he said. He’s just pulling your leg. Principal that is strictly adhered / kept to
3. Sorry but I think I’ll take a rain check on that. Unwell
4. As a rule of thumb, I don’t study at weekends. I spend the time with my family. Joking around
5. I can smell a rat. He said he has a PhD but he can’t even remember which university he studied at. Continuously doing something to improve
6. She’s the spitting image of her mother. Something said in humour rather than seriously
7. The ball’s in your court now. What are you going to do? To decline an offer that you will take up later
8. Unfortunately I think he’ll be studying for English until the cows come home. His English is very poor. Telling someone it’s now their turn to make a decision
9. It was all tongue-in-cheek. He didn’t really mean what he said. To look exactly like someone else
10. She’s feeling under the weather today so she won’t be going to work. For a very long time

I trust you are getting better and better. Practice make it perfect. Just keep on practicing and you will bear the good fruits. Here is the answer key to the above exercise:

Common Idioms

Definitions

1. Let’s keep studying for English. Practice makes perfect. Continuously doing something to improve
2. Don’t get upset about what he said. He’s just pulling your leg. Joking around
3. Sorry but I think I’ll take a rain check on that. To decline an offer that you will take up later
4. As a rule of thumb, I don’t study at weekends. I spend the time with my family. Principal that is strictly adhered / kept to
5. I can smell a rat. He said he has a PhD but he can’t even remember which university he studied at. To sense that something is not right
6. She’s the spitting image of her mother. To look exactly like someone else
7. The ball’s in your court now. What are you going to do? Telling someone it’s now their turn to make a decision
8. Unfortunately I think he’ll be studying for English until the cows come home. His English is very poor. For a very long time
9. It was all tongue-in-cheek. He didn’t really mean what he said. Something said in humour rather than seriously
10. She’s feeling under the weather today so she won’t be going to work. Unwell

Here are some interesting idioms to read – try completing them by filling the missing word:

  1. A rolling stone gathers no ______, so one should stick to what one is doing.  (A) dust       (B) moss     (C) weeds       (D) dirt
  2. You do not need to argue because ______ always speak louder than words.  (A) actions   (B) ideas      (C) performances      (D) results
  3. Birds of a feather ______ together. So, it is not surprising to see the two hang around all the time.    (A) go   (B) fly      (C) hatch       (D) flock
  4. You must draw a _______ between what you can and cannot do.    (A) distinction     (B) parallel       (C) difference      (D) line
  5. New ______ sweep clean, but I doubt if the new boss can sustain this pace.   (A) brooms     (B) laws      (C) cloths       (D) mops
  6. Granny used to ______ yearns about her experiences during the Japanese Occupation. (A) tell       (B) knit      (C) speak       (D) spin
  7. She pulled all  _____ in order to get the job.    (A) plugs       (B) strings      (C) threads       (D) connections
  8. He stayed calm and did not turn a ______.    (A) head       (B) nose       (C) hair       (D) foot
  9. There is no ______ and fast rule to do the job. The most important thing is to finish it as fast as you can. (A) fit       (B) hard       (C) far       (D) hold
  10. He let the ______ out of the bag and announced the new plan to the staff.    (A) cat       (B) dog       (C) bunny       (D) mouse
  11. You should keep him at _____ length because he may have a bad influence on you.     (A) arm’s      (B) foot’s      (C) hand’s       (D) shoulder’s
  12. He is sitting on the ______, trying to see which side he should cheer for.   (A) ledge     (B) fence      (C) edge       (D) gate
  13. He is willing to play second ______ although he obviously has much better skills. (A) hand     (B) fiddle      (C) thought       (D) chance
  14. Do not worry. I have the whole plan at my ______.   (A) mind     (B) heart      (C) hands       (D) fingertips
  15. Get the job first. A bird in the hand is worth two in the ______.  (A) cage     (B) wood      (C) bush       (D) forest
  16. I paid through the ______ for the over-priced video game.  (A) blood       (B) nose      (C) head       (D) heart
  17. Janet broke the ______ and started a conversation with the shy boy.   (A) quiet       (B) snow      (C) air       (D) ice
  18. We have to nip the problem in the ______ or it will grow out of control.  (A) bud       (B) root       (C) stalk       (D) seed
  19. He held his ______ and managed to keep the secret to himself. (A) lips       (B) tongue       (C) mouth       (D) teeth
  20. She is a ______ and it takes time for her to learn all the skills needed for the job. (A) green leaf       (B) greenhorn       (C) green finger       (D) green grass

ANSWERS:  1B   2A   3D   4D   5A   6D   7B   8C   9B   10A 11A   12B   13B   14D   15C   16B   17D   18A   19B   20B

So how did you do?

As of old: Be EMPOWERED and EXCEL.

 

VOCABULARY WORKSHOP – THE KEY WORDS TO USE IN WRITING OR SPEAKING COMPETENTLY 6

The acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most important task in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all we need words.

How Do We Learn Vocabulary?

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

Research argues that knowing a vocabulary word in the target language is the ability to:

  1. recognize it in its spoken form;
  2. recall it at will;
  3. relate it to an appropriate object or concept;
  4. use it in the appropriate grammatical form;
  5. in speech, pronounce it in a recognizable way;
  6. in writing, spell it correctly
  7. use it with the words it correctly goes with, i.e. in the correct collocation
  8. use it at the appropriate level of formality;
  9. be aware of its connotations and associations.

Now, the strategy that you adopt will depend on your personal preference and also, in my view, how much time you have.

One thing that has helped many of my students is learning more about synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. Understanding these three phenomena leads to better comprehension, better spelling, and more expressive writing.

In each of the following groups, circle the item that means the same as the boldface word in the introductory phrase:

  1. A saturnine temperament  A. gloomy   B. surly      C. ugly
  2. A fatuous comment:  A. perceptive   B. foolish   C. brief
  3. A paucity of resources:  A. abundance   B. scarcity   C. use
  4. Accused them of pedantry:  A. hairsplitting   B. treason   C. exactness
  5. A record of their peregrinations:  A. dreams    B. expenses    C. travels
  6. A paltry amount:  A. small         B. piddling        C. incorrect
  7. vituperative remarks: A. complimentary   B. brief     C. abusive
  8. a travesty of justice: A. misinterpretation  B. calculated   C. trial
  9. saturate the field: A. dry  B. soak   C. open
  10. cognizant of the problems: A. unaware   B. aware   C. proud
  11. a benign influence:  A. tireless   B. kind  C. cruel
  12. incarcerate the prisoner:  A. imprison  B. release   C. flatter
  13. an imperturbable manager:   A. excitable   B. skillful   C. composed
  14. unremitting efforts:   A. continual   B successful    C. recent
  15. performed like a tyro:   A. veteran    B. coward    C. beginner

ANSWERS: 1A  2B  3B  4C  5C  6A  7C  8A  9B  10B 11B 12A  13C  14A  15C

How did fair? Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much: both written and spoken.

Another top tip: LEARN THE CULTURE. There are a number of different kinds of English around the world. British and American English might seem the same, but there are many little differences.

Also note that sometimes even native speakers don’t understand other dialects of English 100%, and that’s definitely true.

When you are learning new words, keep in mind which country you plan to visit, live in or work in. You should learn British English if you plan to go to England, American English if you plan to go to America, and so on.

The word color, for example, is spelled as “colour” in British English. British people used the words “brilliant” and “cheers” often, but Americans prefer to say “cool” instead of “brilliant” and “see you” instead of “cheers.”

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

VOCABULARY WORKSHOP – THE KEY WORDS TO USE IN WRITING OR SPEAKING COMPETENTLY (5)

THE ACQUISITION AND DEVELOPMENT of one’s vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

Most early readers have a bigger oral (listening and speaking) vocabulary than reading vocabulary, but this difference narrows as they develop their reading expertise.

pexels-photo-256417.jpegVOCABULARY DEVELOPMENT at High School focuses on helping students learn the meaning of new words and concepts in various contexts and across all academic content areas. Teaching students to develop vocabulary means providing explicit instruction on important words from text and helping students learn word meanings independently.

It is critical for both oral and written vocabulary development to increase as students get older to enable them to comprehend increasingly more complex grade level texts and vocabulary.

Moreover improving your vocabulary has a direct, positive impact on your capacity to build up your language proficiency as a whole. A leading linguist researcher Paul Nation notes:

“Vocabulary is not an end in itself. A rich vocabulary makes the skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing easier to perform.”

When your working memory is not loaded with hesitation about the correct spelling, pronunciation and contextual use of the words, you can concentrate fully on higher level aspects of language such as using precise sentence structures and appropriate expressions for the type of conversation that is going on.

The Vocabulary Vicious Cycle

Vocabulary issues for High School students are compounded when the students are not fluent readers. Why?

Research has concluded that our richest source of learning new words beyond the age of 10 is through reading newspapers, books, magazines and just general reading. As a result, High School students with decoding difficulties will have been unable to access these print sources. Over time this can have a negative impact on vocabulary.

Thus, the cycle is like POOR Decoding leads to LESS Reading which means a student will have LESS Vocabulary which ultimately leads to POOR Comprehension.

Vocabulary knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

One thing that has helped many of my students is learning vocabulary through synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. Understanding these three phenomena lead to better comprehension, better spelling, and more expressive writing.

Never Give Up

In each of the following groups, circle the item that means the same as the boldface word in the introductory phrase:

  1. A ludicrous statement:  a. sensational       b. profound           c. ridiculous
  2. In a recumbent position:  a. upright        b. uncomfortable     c. dangerous
  3. A team in disarray:  a. defeat             b. confusion           c. transition
  4. A frenetic pace:  a. relaxed             b. hectic             c. temporary
  5. In a jocular mood:  a. boring          b.humorous            c. solemn
  6. An era of concord      a. peace           b. progress                   c. strife
  7. Groused about the food:   a. appraised     b. inquired     c. grumbled
  8. Ubiquitous graffiti:     a. clever           b. obscene                 c. everywhere
  9. Fooled by his sophistry:  a. reputation      b. quibbling       c. politeness
  10. Issued a fiat:    a. decree       b. warning                  c. description
  11. Delineate our duties:  a. describe            b. neglect        c. perform
  12. Enervated by the experience:  a. strengthened     b. saddened       c. exhausted
  13. Esoteric references:  a. cryptic        b. scholarly         c. intelligible
  14. Sumptuous accommodation:  a. luxurious          b. Spartan         c. recent
  15. Mundane concerns:  a. foolish            b. financial              c. ordinary

ANSWERS: 1A  2B  3A  4B  5B  6A  7C  8C  9B  10A 11A 12C  13C  14A  15C

How did fair? Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much: both written and spoken.

Lastly, ask “What does that mean?”

NEVER be afraid to ask questions! If someone uses words you don’t understand, ask them “What does that mean?” Many people are very patient and understanding when it comes to explaining. In fact, many will actually enjoy helping you!

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

 

 

VOCABULARY WORKSHOP – THE KEY WORDS TO USE IN WRITING OR SPEAKING COMPETENTLY 4

The acquisition of vocabulary is one of the most important tasks in language learning. If you have enough words, you can make sense of what you are reading or listening to and you can somehow express yourself.

In short, vocabulary acquisition is much more important than grammar. The grammar we have is acquired gradually as we become familiar with the language, with the words, but first of all, we need words.

Many Books

How Do We Learn Vocabulary?

“Because children with weaker vocabularies are less likely to learn new words from listening to stories than children with larger vocabularies, teachers need to provide more direct instruction for children with smaller vocabularies” – Robbins & Ehri, 1994.

VOCABULARY knowledge is not something that can ever be fully mastered; it is something that expands and deepens over the course of a lifetime. Instruction in vocabulary involves far more than looking up words in a dictionary and using the words in a sentence.

Vocabulary is acquired incidentally through indirect exposure to words and intentionally through explicit instruction in specific words and word-learning strategies.

There are two approaches I have implemented over the years:

  • One is the deliberate study of vocabulary by reading vocabulary lists or flash cards as well as keeping handwritten lists.
  • The other, is to learn through a lot of exposure – watching age-appropriate films, television documentaries or series;  reading novels, newspapers and magazines.

Now, the strategy that you adopt will depend on your personal preference and also, in my view, how much time you have.

One thing that has helped many of my students is learning more about synonyms, antonyms, and homonyms. Understanding these three phenomena leads to better comprehension, better spelling, and more expressive writing.

In each of the following groups, circle the item that means the same as the boldface word in the introductory phrase:

  1. a feckless assistant: a. dishonest   b. able   c. ineffective   d. meticulous
  2. substantiated his story: a. filed   b. validated   c. concocted   d. dismissed
  3. skillful temporizing: a. theorizing     b. miming   c. stalling   d. debating
  4. excessive verbiage: a. verbosity    b. coyness   c. silence     d. terseness
  5. utopian views: a. realistic    b. visionary     c. old-fashioned     d. scenic
  6. wrote a moving eulogy: a testimonial    b. sermon     c. account
  7. a devious manner: a. blunt   b. clumsy   c. shifty
  8. the invidious review: a. malicious    b. succinct      c. complimentary
  9. the distraught witness: a. impartial   b. agitated   c. unjust
  10. in the pejorative sense: a. favourable      b. disparaging       c. objective
  11. exhume the treasure: a. disinter      b. dig up       c. discover
  12. incarcerated the suspect: a. imprisoned      b. released          c. followed
  13. alcyon weather:  a. refreshing      b. turbulent        c. seasonable
  14. simply arrogated the role:   a. loathed      b. adored      c. usurped
  15. interrogate the suspect: a. imprisoned   b. released      c. question

ANSWERS: 1A  2B  3A  4B  5B  6A  7C  8A  9C  10B 11B 12A  13A  14C  15C

How did fair? Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much: both written and spoken.

red heart on a old opened book

Lastly, . . . consider this:

Maths (British English) — Math (American English) 

In both countries, this is the abbreviation for “mathematics.” British people wonder why Americans don’t include the “s” and Americans wonder why British people do include the “s” It’s one of the mysteries of the universe and is another topic I shall pursue later.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

VOCABULARY WORKSHOP – KEY WORDS TO USE IN WRITING OR SPEAKING COMPETENTLY (3)

Vocabulary knowledge is the single most important factor contributing to reading comprehension – Laflamme, 1997

SIMPLE WAYS TO EARN WIDE VOCABULARY

The core to earning a top grade mark in English Literature or Composition involves the mastery of an array of skills, chief among which, is using extensive vocabulary. This means students must never ever try to make their writing look more academic by using “clever” words for their own sake. Instead, always understand that there is a difference between a person’s passive vocabulary (the words one understands) and a person’s active vocabulary (the words one actually uses).

Ever Tried

LEARN THE CULTURE. There are a number of different kinds of English around the world. British and American English might seem the same, but there are many little differences.

When you are learning new words in English, keep in mind from which country your syllabus is coming from: the UK or USA . You should learn British English if your syllabus is from OCR, AQA or Edexcel and American English if your syllabus is from College Board or Advanced Placement, and so on.

The word color, for example, is spelled as “colour” in British English. British people use the words “brilliant” and “cheers” often, but Americans prefer to say “cool” instead of “brilliant” and “see you” instead of “cheers.”

A SYNONYM is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase.

In each of the following groups, circle the item that means the same as the boldface word in the introductory phrase:

  1. intermittent snow: A. irregular   B. uninterrupted    C. drifting
  2. A sylvan setting A. urban   B. rural  C. barren
  3. A moot issue   A. debatable   B. pressing   C. secondary
  4. Delivered a diatribe A. baby   B. tirade   C. newspaper
  5. Inane comments A. laughable      B. brief   C. sensible
  6. histrionic behavior : A. melodramatic    B. proper       C. subdued
  7. abrogate the treaty: A. ratify      B. sign   C. enforce
  8. Surprised by the perspicacity: A. shrewdness     B. betrayal      C. obtuseness
  9. an incongruous remark: A. courteous      B. jarring        C. lengthy
  10. a bucolic setting: A.countryside   B. neglected   C. urban
  11. exacerbate the injury: A. treat   B. report   C. intensify
  12. known for their idiosyncrasies: A. individualistic   B. intelligence   C. wealth
  13. a lackadaisical performance:  A. indifferent   B. energetic   C. unenthusiastic
  14. emulate the actress  A. praise     B. mimic    C. criticise
  15. banal lyrics: A. sentimental      B. trite C. effective

ANSWERS: 1a  2b  3a  4b  5b  6a  7b  8a  9c  10b 11c 12a  13c  14b  15c

How did fair?

Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much in both written and spoken.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!