What springs to your mind when you hear the word freelance? The usual suspects are likely to be ‘work’ and ‘self-employed’. Quite rightly so, as to freelance means being your own boss when it comes to choosing who to work for and for how long. In other words, unlike others who stick to their jobs for years and years, freelancers move from employer to employer selling their expertise to those who offer the best pay.
Tag: vocabulary Page 1 of 2
It’s sometimes said that less is more. That’s definitely the case with interjections – short words and phrases that are used to express strong feelings; for this reason David Crystal in his book Making Sense of Grammar calls them emotional noises. And I’d compare them to verbal emoticons.
Let’s have a look at some common interjections that you’ll often hear in conversation and see how they can be as expressive as sentences. And when it comes to situations where an immediate emotional response is required, they become indispensable.
as in Wow! Your hair looks gorgeous!
As an expression of surprise and/or admiration, wow has crossed many borders sometimes even pushing their equivalents in local languages out of use as in my native Russia where the good old ух ты! seems to have completely become a thing of the past.
This two-letter word has lots of uses:
it comes handy as an expression of, I’d say, mild surprise as in
Jenny and Rob have split up. – Oh, I didn’t realise that.
You can also use it to make a more profound emotional impact as in
Oh, no! My mobile’s been stolen!
The company Jack’s been working for has gone bust and he’s lost his job. – Oh, how awful!
We also use it to fill in short pauses and when answering questions to sound less abrupt.
Can you get some milk, bread… oh, and some eggs too?
Do you know that guy? – Oh, yes, we met at the local gym a couple of months ago.
There are certain words in English, as well as the other languages I speak with varying degrees of fluency, that I find absolutely irresistible.
Be it the sound or the meaning, I fall in love with them and, even if it’s not a very commonly used word and I don’t often get a chance to use it myself, my inner linguist rejoices every time I encounter one of my favourites in conversation or writing.
So I thought I’d like to share these beloved lexical gems of mine with you.
And the word I’d like to start with is gobsmacked. It’s pronounced /ˈɡɒbsmækt/ and means so surprised or shocked that you can’t speak.
This UK slang word is made up of gob, meaning mouth, and the past participle of the verb smack, meaning hit.
Here’s an example of how it’s used:
I was absolutely gobsmacked when a distant relative I’d never met had left me a fortune.
Hope you like this word as much as I do. And even if you don’t, try to memorise and use it in conversation – that’ll make you sound more native-like.
You certainly know that a group of dogs or wolves is called a pack, sheep as well as birds gather in flocks, and when camels get together they form a caravan.
Unlike, for example, my native Russian, the English language has a unique collective noun for an impressive variety of living things (not all of them are commonly used though).
You are likely to find many of them surprising, weird or downright hilarious – clearly, vivid imagination was not in shortage in mediaeval times these lexical gems are said to date back to.
And notice how precise some of them are as to highlight the main trait of the animal in question.
Here are my favourite twenty:
- a sloth or sleuth of bears
- a gang or obstinacy of buffaloes
- a murder of crows
- a parade of elephants
- a business of ferrets
- an army of frogs
- a tower of giraffes
- a band of gorillas
- a troop or mob of kangaroos
- a conspiracy of lemurs
- a leap of leopards
- a pride of lions
- a labor of moles
- a family of otters
- a parliament of owls
- a pandemonium of parrots
- a prickle of porcupines
- an unkindness of ravens
- a crash of rhinoceroses
- a stench of skunks
Aren’t they beautiful?!
The noun medium is of Latin origin and has been part of the English language since the 1580s.
If you look it up in a dictionary, you’ll see that it has two plural forms – media, which is in line with other Latin borrowings such as, for example, datum – data and bacterium – bacteria, and mediums.
Languages are mediums (=means) of interaction and communication.
You certainly know that we refer to all the people and organisations providing information and news for the
public, i.e. newspapers, radio, TV, etc., as the mass media and never the mass
The mass media is often referred to as the Fourth Estate.
Notice that the (mass) media is now often used as an uncountable noun with a singular verb, though Bernard C. Lamb, President of the Queen’s English Society, argues that is ‘wrong, wrong, wrong!’ He also insists mediums should only be used for people who claim to be able to communicate with the dead.
After his father died, he spent a small fortune on mediums trying to find out if his late parent was happy in the afterlife.
So if you want to speak impeccable English, you’d better listen to Mr Lamb. Besides, I think it’s the easiest way to remember when to use media and when mediums.
The word programme has several meanings.
The one you’re certainly familiar with is something you watch on TV or listen to on the radio as in What’s your favourite TV programme?
It can mean plan or a series of actions as in
The ambitious reform programme developed by a group of independent politicians got no support from the government.
What’s the programme for tomorrow?
Another meaning is a leaflet that gives information about a play, concert etc.
She collects theatre programmes.
By contrast, program is a set of instructions given to a computer, i.e. All word processing programs these days have built-in grammar- and spelling-checkers.
There’s no such distinction in American English where one spelling program covers all of the above mentioned meanings.
The very first thing you learn to say in any new language is, without doubt, how to greet people. And there’s a good reason for that – you can’t possibly strike up (=start) a conversation without saying hello first. Well, technically speaking, you can, but we don’t do that in polite society (=educated and well-mannered people).
Hello is a universal greeting – it works at any time of day and in any situation, especially with people you don’t know well and older people.
Hello Mrs Smith. How are you today?
It’s also the word we use when answering the phone.
Hello. – Hi Jenny, it’s Katy. – Oh, hi Katy!
Hello there can be used to address either one person or a group of people.
Hello there! It’s ages since I last saw you. How have you been?
We also use it rather informally when writing to someone whose name we don’t know (or can’t remember!). For example, you want to buy something on Ebay but have questions to ask the seller. Hello (or Hi) there is a perfectly acceptable way of starting your message.
Then, there’s hi, which these days is by far the most popular greeting among native English speakers as it’s friendlier and less formal than hello. It’s used both in conversation in informal writing, i.e. emails and text messages, with family and friends, colleagues and clients, people who do things for us, such as shop assistants and waiters, and so on. The only restriction in its use is the age difference – don’t say hi to anyone who’s much older than you, unless you’re on intimate terms with them as I am with my parents-in-law, for example.
Of these four nouns the one that confuses English learners most is definitely travel.
Travel is used to refer to the activity of travelling in general. In this meaning it’s always uncountable, i.e. takes no article and is always singular.
His job involves a great deal of travel.
Her interests are history, art and travel.
Travel can be plural when it means journeys, especially abroad.
On their travels they met lots of interesting people, many of whom became their lifelong friends.
This poem is basically an impressive list of similes.
A simile is an expression that describes something by comparing it with something else, using words such as like, as, as if, as though. For example, as quiet as a mouse (very quiet) and like a bull in a china shop (very clumsy) are similes.
Some of them can be found in dictionaries, others are the author’s coinages. Can you tell which is which?
Today, I feel as:
Pleased as PUNCH,
Fit as a FIDDLE,
Keen as a KNIFE,
Hot as a GRIDDLE,
Bold as BRASS,
Bouncy as a BALL,
Keen as MUSTARD,
High as a WALL,
Bright as a BUTTON,
Light as a FEATHER,
Fresh as a DAISY,
Fragrant as HEATHER,
Chirpy as a CRICKET,
Sound as a BELL,
Sharp as a NEEDLE,
Deep as a WELL,
High as a KITE,
Strong as a BULL,
Bubbly as BATH WATER,
Warm as WOOL,
Clean as a new PIN,
Shiny as MONEY,
Quick as LIGHTENING,
Sweet as HONEY,
Cool as a CUCUMBER,
Fast as a HARE,
Right as RAIN,
Brave as a BEAR,
Lively as a MONKEY,
Busy as a BEE,
Good as GOLD,
Free as the SEA.
I’M SO HAPPY – I’M JUST LOST FOR WORDS.
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In English, there are quite a few pairs of adjectives one of which ends in -ed and the other in -ing, for example, excited/exciting, bored /boring, inspired/inspiring. The adjectives in each pair are very different in meaning, and yet, as they look so similar, English learners often find them confusing. If you too find it difficult to use them correctly, then read on.