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The Most Common English Adjectives

Are you wondering where to start studying English vocabulary? Adjectives are a really important part of speech. An adjective is a word used to describe a noun.

It is a good idea to focus on the most common ones in the language. Below are lists of the 50 most common words in both American and British English.

50 Most Common Adjectives
πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ in American English πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡Έ
No. Adjective
1 OTHER
2 NEW
3 GOOD
4 AMERICAN
5 GREAT
6 BIG
7 HIGH
8 OLD
9 DIFFERENT
10 NATIONAL
11 SMALL
12 LITTLE
13 BLACK
14 IMPORTANT
15 POLITICAL
16 SOCIAL
17 LONG
18 YOUNG
19 RIGHT
20 BEST
21 REAL
22 WHITE
23 PUBLIC
24 SURE
25 ONLY
26 LARGE
27 ABLE
28 HUMAN
29 LOCAL
30 EARLY
31 BAD
32 BETTER
33 ECONOMIC
34 FREE
35 POSSIBLE
36 WHOLE
37 MAJOR
38 MILITARY
39 FEDERAL
40 INTERNATIONAL
41 TRUE
42 FULL
43 HARD
44 SPECIAL
45 RECENT
46 RED
47 OPEN
48 PERSONAL
49 GENERAL
50 CLEAR
50 Most Common Adjectives
πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§ in British English πŸ‡¬πŸ‡§
No.Adjective
1 OTHER
2 NEW
3 GOOD
4 OLD
5 DIFFERENT
6 LOCAL
7 GREAT
8 SMALL
9 SOCIAL
10 IMPORTANT
11 NATIONAL
12 HIGH
13 BRITISH
14 POSSIBLE
15 LARGE
16 RIGHT
17 LONG
18 LITTLE
19 YOUNG
20 POLITICAL
21 ABLE
22 GENERAL
23 ONLY
24 PUBLIC
25 AVAILABLE
26 FULL
27 EARLY
28 BEST
29 BIG
30 MAIN
31 MAJOR
32 ECONOMIC
33 SURE
34 REAL
35 LIKELY
36 BLACK
37 PARTICULAR
38 INTERNATIONAL
39 SPECIAL
40 DIFFICULT
41 CERTAIN
42 CLEAR
43 WHOLE
44 FURTHER
45 WHITE
46 OPEN
47 EUROPEAN
48 FREE
49 CENTRAL
50 SIMILAR

Most of the most common adjectives are the same in the US and the UK (78% of the top 50 and 92% of the top 25 words appear in both lists). Notice that American is the 4th most common adjective in American English and British is the 13th most common adjective in British English. We shouldn't read too much into these simple lists, but it is interesting to note that militaryfederal, and personal all appear in the American list. Do you notice any other patterns?

That's all for now! Start studying!

If you're looking for something similar, check out the most common verbs in English.


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C-V-C Words

The C-V-C Pattern

One of the craziest things about learning English is the relationship between spelling and pronunciation. We don't even need to talk about ought, enough, through, etc, right?

But there are some patterns to learn that can make English a little less crazy. Today let's talk about one of the most important ones: C-V-C words.

But what does C-V-C mean???

I'll tell you. C-V-C means consonant-vowel-consonant. A C-V-C word is a three-letter word that follows the spelling pattern of a consonant, then a vowel, and then another consonant. Remember, vowels are the letters A, E, I, O, U (sometimes Y!), and consonants are all the other letters. For example, top. T is a consonant. O is a vowel. P is a consonant. C-V-C.

Here are some more examples of C-V-C words:

cat
cvc
red
cvc
big
cvc
hop
cvc
bun
cvc

Can you see the pattern? 

Now, why is this important? It is important because if you can recognize a C-V-C word, you can almost certainly pronounce it, even if it's a new word for you! That's because in C-V-C words, the vowel is almost always a "short" vowel.

Check out the list of the short vowel sounds with examples in the chart.

A E I O U

Short Vowel Sounds
Letter IPA Sound Example
A /Γ¦/
cat
E /Ι›/
red
I /Ιͺ/
big
O /Ι’/
hop
U /ʌ/
bun

Double Consonants and C-V-C Words

There is another reason that C-V-C words are important. This one is a little more difficult.

Maybe you know that in English, we sometimes need to double a letter when we add a suffix like -er, -ed, -ing, and -est. This is important for comparative and superlative adjectives, the simple past tense, and the present progressive. For example mad becomes madder, nap becomes napped, win becomes winning, and big becomes biggest. For these words we have double consonants, but not always: nicer, hoped, mining, poorest. At first, this can be very confusing. When do we double the consonant!? How do we know!? C-V-C words!!! You generally need to double the last consonant when adding a suffix to a C-V-C word. There are some exceptions: generally we do not double the consonants W, X, or Y.

Longer C-V-C words

Above we defined C-V-C words as 3-letter words. That makes sense: C + V + C = 3 letters, right? But actually, there are more C-V-C words. It is really about the end of the words. Any one-syllable word that ends in C-V-C also follows the pattern above. Here are some other examples:

strap
cvc
shred
cvc
c lip
cvc
d rop
cvc
smug
cvc

There is one other type of C-V-C word. All of the C-V-C words so far have been one syllable, and most C-V-C words are only one syllable. But some two-syllable words also follow this pattern. Two-syllable words ending in C-V-C, with the stress on the second syllable also follow the C-V-C pattern. The stress is very important here. There are not many words like this, and most are just a prefix added to a shorter word. Most two syllable words have stress on the first syllable. But when you do find a two-syllable word ending in C-V-C, with the stress on the second syllable, you know that you should double the consonant when adding -ed, -ing, -er, or -est.

entrap
cvc
regret
cvc
sub mit
cvc
de fog
cvc
debug
cvc

Complete list of C-V-C Words

C-V-C Words with A

bad, bag, bam, ban, bat, cab, cad, cam, can, cap, cat, cav, dab, dad, dam, dap, fab, fad, fan, fat, fax, gab, gag, gal, gap, gas, gat, had, hag, ham, has, hat, jab, jam, lab, lad, lag, lap, mad, mag, man, mat, max, nab, nag, nap, pad, pal, pan, pat, rad, rag, ram, ran, rap, rat, sac, sad, sag, sap, sat, sax, tab, tad, tag, tan, tap, tar, tat, tax, vac, van, vat, wad, wag, wan, war, was, wax, yak, yam, yap, zag, zap

C-V-C Words with E

bed, beg, bet, cel, den, fed, fen, fez, gel, gem, get, hem, hen, hex, jet, keg, led, leg, let, med, men, met, net, peg, pen, pep, pet, red, rep, rex, set, sex, ten, veg, vet, vex, wed, wet, yen, yet, zed, zen

C-V-C Words with I

bib, bid, big, bin, bit, did, dig, dim, din, dip, fib, dig, fit, fix, gig, gin, hid, him, hip, his, hit, jig, kid, kin, kit, lid, lip, lit, mix, nib, nil, nip, nix, pig, pin, pit, rib, rid, rig, rim, rip, sib, sim, sin, sip, sis, sit, six, tin, tip, wig, win, wit, wiz, yip, zig, zip, zit

C-V-C Words with O

bob, bod, bog, bon, bot, box, cob, cod, cog, com, con, cop, cot, coz, dog, dom, don, dot, fob, fog, fox, god, got, hob, hog, hop, hot, job, jog, jot, lob, log, lop, lot, lox, mob, mod, mom, mop, nod, nog, nor, not, pod, pom, pop, pot, pox, rob, rod, rot, sob, sod, sog, son, sop, sot, tom, ton, top, tot, won

C-V-C Words with U

bud, bug, bun, bus, but, cub, cup, cut, dub, dud, dug, fun, gun, gut, hub, hug, hum, hun, hut, jug, jut, lug, mud, mug, mum, nub, nut, pub, pug, pun, pup, pus, put, rub, rug, rum, run, rut, sub, sud, sum, sun, sup, tub, tug, tut, tux, yum, yup


Exceptions

Some words look like C-V-C words, but aren't exactly. For example words that end in -AY and -AW are not really C-V-C words, because the -AY and -AW actually combine into a new vowel sound. The same is true for -OY words and -OW words. 

Words ending in vowel-R often follow the spelling patterns of other C-V-C words, but R changes the pronunciation of the vowel before it, creating a sound that is not exactly a short vowel. We call these new vowel sounds R-colored vowels.

More free English resources

 

Read Next

Silent E Words

C-V-C -E Words

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What is the Common European Framework?

A1? B2? What is the CEFR?

You may have noticed that many of our English blog posts and English classes have strange combinations of letters and numbers on them: B1, C2, A1. These can tell you some important information about the level of the class or blog post. These codes come from a European system called the Common European Framework for Reference (CEFR).

Although the CEFR is β€œEuropean,” it is used in many countries around the world. Because the CEFR is international, it’s very helpful for language learners and language teachers to talk about levels. There are six levels in the CEFR: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2.

The CEFR doesn't describe language in terms of number of vocabulary words or grammar structures. The CEFR focuses on what students can do with the language. For example, students at level B1 can give descriptions on a variety of familiar subjects related to their interests. C1 students can give clear, well-structured descriptions of complex subjects. That's why the CEFR can be used for any language, not just English. Learning your CEFR level can be really helpful to you as an English student!

Soon Ginseng will have a placement test that will help you learn your CEFR level, so watch for that!


CEFR Levels Table

Here is a table with each level in the Common European Framework, along with a description of students at each level.

Common European Framework of Reference for Language (CEFR) Levels
Level Name Description
PROFICIENT USER C2 Mastery Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation. Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.
C1 Effective Operational Efficiency Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes. Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
INDEPENDENT USER B2 Vantage Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation. Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
B1 Threshold Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.,Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
BASIC USER A2 Waystage Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.,Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
A1 Breakthrough Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type. Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has. Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

You can read more about the CEFR at the website of the Council of Europe, which developed the framework between 1989 and 1996.

A chart of CEFR levels with very brief summaries.

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