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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
🇺🇸 in American English 🇺🇸
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
🇬🇧 in British English 🇬🇧
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 /æ/
cat
E /ɛ/
red
I /ɪ/
big
O /ɒ/
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.

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Silent E Words

C-V-C -E Words

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10 Trending Words That Aren’t in Your Dictionary

10 TRENDING WORDS THAT ARE NOT IN YOUR DICTIONARY

Welcome to the first post in English written by Yentelman, the blogger who's been helping Spanish students with their English (and even their Spanish!) for quite a few years now. I was asked by my friends here at Ginseng English to adapt a few of my posts to English and—this being something that had been in my mind for some time— what could I say but "of course!" So, here we are. And, what am I going to talk about? Well, there were plenty to choose from but, considering the time of the year we're in, why not have a look at the most surprising words trending from 2017? (Note: You can read the original article in Spanish here).

Dictionary.com analysed the top 10 trending words in 2017. But not just any trending word—only those that are not currently included in the dictionary. We'll explain here what those events or movements were that made these words "go viral." Let's see!

1. Antifa

antifa.jpg

OK, as some of you may know—or may have already noticed—I'm a Spaniard. And this term, antifa, is fairly well-known in my mother tongue, as it has the same meaning, and is quite trendy as well. The Antifa movement in the USA, though, is slightly different from the one in Spain. It is a conglomerate of several anti-fascist (hence anti-fa) groups, with no formal organization nor official leader. With the antifa movement being quite active and on the rise in my home country, we Spaniards tend to believe that Anglo-Saxon countries are not so keen on them. Quite the opposite, the antifa movement is quite active overseas, and is composed of people from different ideologies, mainly anarchists, socialists and communists, but there are also liberals and social-democrats among their ranks. An odd mixture, tbh.

The main reasons for this trending word in 2017 were the numerous violent protests and demonstrations carried out during the summer in cities such as Charlottesville, Phoenix and Berkeley. The first one was particularly infamous due to the brutal confrontations between Antifa and white supremacists. Donald Trump has also been known to talk a lot about Antifa. So, there's another good reason for this word to be trending in 2017, just like our next word...

2. Covfefe

 
Trump Covfefe Tweet
 

Now, there's this term I absolutely love in the English language: brain fart. That is NOT our next trending word, but it does accurately describe this and other statements from the current U.S. president. Donald Trump's famous tweet was published on May 31, 2017, and it immediately became the trending word of the moment. Half of Twitter and journalists from all over the world couldn't make up their minds as to whether it was a joke or he had really meant to send some obscure message to the reptilian government in the shadows.

Even the famous Merriam Webster dictionary—frequent fact-checker and internet troll to The Donald—was left speechless for once (see Tweet to the right).

To this day, we still don't know what the heck Donald Trump meant to say with that word. The most likely explanation is that covfefe was a typo of coverage (negative press coverage is a common phrase), but instead of clarifying, the president’s press secretary cryptically said “a small group of people know exactly what he meant.” Anyway, it was worth it if only for the LOLs.

3. Cuck

Short for cuckold, this term has clearly pejorative and negative connotations. A cuckold is a husband who has been cheated on. The word stems from a 13th century poem, and is derived from cuckoo, the well known bird you can find in the clock of the same name. It wasn't until 2014 that the shortened cuck started getting popular on the Internet, too as an insult aimed at a certain type of male.

Here I intended to include a pic for cuck, but it just so happens that cuck is also a porn subgenre, and my safesearch was not enabled...

Here I intended to include a pic for cuck, but it just so happens that cuck is also a porn subgenre, and my safesearch was not enabled...

According to Michael Adams, professor of linguistics at Indiana University, shortening the term so it rhymes with fuck makes it more visceral. According to Adams, the name makes reference to a man "who’s timid, deferential and lacking in toughness and conviction […] it says you’re an unnatural man, someone who can’t stand for himself […] He’s inadequate, unable to hold on to what’s his."

Donald Trump is again behind cuck becoming one of the top trending words in 2017. This is a word that you might want to avoid using. It has become the insult of choice for members of the so-called Alt-Right (another one of the most looked up words), a political group composed of racists and fascists.

4. Despacito

Yep, kids. The title of Luis Fonsi and Daddy Yankee's song is the fourth word in this list. I guess it was because of the version with that tool Justin Bieber in it. Yeah, I know I should now include the song's video-clip and all that, but I can't be arsed. I'd rather you guys listened to a couple of my favourite versions of the song. Cue video!

You may not find the definition of despacito in an English dictionary, but it translates to slowly.

5. Fidget spinner

Can you believe these things existed as far back as 1993? You wouldn't guess, judging by how recently they have become the most sought-after toy in 2017. Who knows why. Truth is, fidget spinners have become so popular among kids (and adults!) that many education institutions have decided to ban their use in class. Fidgeting is moving around restlessly, like many kids do when they’re bored at school. These spinning objects were sold as toys that can help kids to focus by using up their nervous energy.

Fidget Spinner

6. Hygge

#hygge

A post shared by Calzitalia (Brescia-Italia) (@calzitalia_brescia) on

Am I an influencer yet?

No, when we talk about hygge we are not talking about the latest IKEA chair or wardrobe. This one's a Danish word, used to describe a special feeling or moment as cozy, charming, or special. Look it up in Google Images and you'll likely start puking rainbows.

It seems there's no direct translation for this term in English (there isn't one in my mother tongue either). We'd be speaking about a feeling, a sentiment or emotion. It is this lack of an exact definition and the association of the word with nice thoughts and ideas which made this a top trending word in 2017. Why? Because some sly marketing experts realized they could capitalize on this word to sell Americans basically everything, from wine to self-help books, wool sweaters, age treatment oils, idyllic holidays and even dog leashes.

7. Smize

You NEED to be Tyra Banks, otherwise it's not the same.

You NEED to be Tyra Banks, otherwise it's not the same.

This is a portmanteau word created by supermodel Tyra Banks and meaning "smile with one's eyes". There's even a Wikihow guide on how to do it.

The thing is, it was actually 2009 when Tyra coined the term. Why, then, has this become a trending word in 2017? Easy: by the end of July 2017, the model introduced her 18-month-old toddler into society. Up to that point, the kid had been left outside the spotlight. So Tyra came up and said that her baby already knew how to smize, and it promptly went viral. You can see for yourself in the video below.

Yeah, I know. The kid in the pic appears to be more stoic than Steven Seagal in Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. But he is smizing! He's smiling with his eyes! For fuck's sake, can't you see?

Meh, who am I kidding. I wasn't able to look away from that dress either.

8. Turnt

An example of teenage slang that shows the influence of social networks and everything social-media related on youngsters today. This term is used to express great excitement, anticipation or enthusiasm for an upcoming event. It is, allegedly, a variant of turned. Even though it first became popular in the music world around 2013, it's been this year when teenagers have really adopted it as their own and made it a trending word.

9. Vax

giphy (1).gif

Short for vaccination, this expression has been widely used in 2017, the year when the so-called anti-vaxxers have finally exhausted the patience of many governments in Europe and around the world, who have started fining those irresponsible parents who decide not to vaccinate their children.

Using unfounded and outlandish arguments such as the one in the gif above ("vaccines cause autism in children"), the anti-vax movement is behind the recent outbreak of diseases such as measles, mumps or polio in many countries who had successfully managed to eradicate them long ago. This link will take you to a detailed map of the evolution of these diseases, so you can see what I'm talking about.

Just so you know, I don't usually discuss my beliefs openly on such topics as religion, politics, sports or adding chorizo to paella. But I'll be crystal clear this time: If you are an anti-vaxxer and my comments offend you, I don't give a frag. 

10. Welp

Let's get this over with already, shan't we? The last top trending word of 2017 is another teenage slang term you can frequently find in that new agora of culture and knowledge: Twitter (yes, I'm being sarcastic). It is said that welp is the oral way of expressing what is implied by a shrug. Actually, it is just an informal synonym for well when conveying surprise or shock at something, as well as an interjection to start a conversation or introduce a new sentence. For example:

"Welp, what have we here? "  Star Wars reference nº 4,815,162,342

"Welp, what have we here?Star Wars reference nº 4,815,162,342

Its use is becoming more and more popular, to the point that Merriam Webster (yes, the guys who bust Trump's stones) is thinking about including the term among their pages. However, until that happens, it is still little more than internet slang, even if it's older than most people are aware of.

 

So that's it. I hope you liked the post and, just in case… is there a word you have been reading or listening to a lot this year which has not been included here? Any you've been using a lot lately while not being sure if you're pulling a Donald Trump? Don't be shy and let us know!

 
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Deleted Syllables

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Deleted Syllables

So, we all know by now that English is crazy, right? We have talked about silent N and silent K and silent L and silent B. But English is even crazier. It's not just letters that are silent. We have silent syllables in English, too!*

What is a Syllable? 

A syllable is a part of a word with one vowel sound and the consonants around it. For example, the word working has two vowel sounds, so it has two syllables. We often show syllables like this: wor-king. Often one syllable is stronger than the others, and we can show this, too. In the word working, the first syllable is stronger. This is called the stressed syllable. We can show the stressed syllable in different ways: 

wor-king, WOR-king, 'wor-king

Some words only have one syllable, like bigcat, and think. Some words have LOTS of syllables, like an-ti-dis-es-tab-lish-men-tar-i-an-ism.

Why are Some Syllables Silent?

Like we said, some syllables are strong. That means some other syllables are weak. When we are speaking quickly, over many many years, the pronunciation of the word changes, and some syllables eventually become so weak that they are completely silent. 

How Do I Know If a Syllable is Silent?

You don't. Sorry! There are some patterns for where silent syllables happen (for instance, they are always in the middle of a word, they are often the syllable before an R sound, they are almost always the syllable after the stressed syllable), but it's really not a good idea to guess that a syllable will be silent. There are only a couple dozen words in English that have silent syllables, so your best strategy is to learn which words they are. 

That's why we've assembled this list! Please comment below if you have any words for us to add to the list!

Deleted Syllables in English
Word Syl Pronunciation Audio
miserable 3 miz-rable
vegetable 3 veg-ta-ble
business 2 biz-ness
comfortable 3 kumf-ter-ble
chocolate 2 chok-let
family 2 fam-ly
aspirin 2 as-prin
separate 2 sep-ret
interesting 3 in-tre-sting
laboratory 4 lab-ra-to-ry
every 2 ev-ry
several 2 sev-ral
average 2 av-reg
favorite 2 fav-rit
conference 2 con-frence

Are These Syllables Always Silent?

Now, some of you are probably thinking, "But I KNOW I've heard people say in-te-res-ting with 3 syllables!!!" You probably have! Every time we pronounce a word, it sounds a little bit different. Sometimes when we are speaking slowly or emphatically, we might pronounce the silent syllable in miserable or interesting. This sounds confusing, but don't worry! If you leave the syllable silent, it will never be wrong!


*Note: Deleting syllables is a common phenomenon in American English, but it may not happen in all varieties of English.

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To read more about English pronunciation check out these blog posts on the Silent N, Silent L, Silent B, Silent G, and Silent K.

 

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Parts of a Bike

English Vocabulary - Parts of a Bike

As you probably know, bike is a common short word for bicycle in English. Let's build our bicycle vocabulary by learning English names for parts of a bike!

The place where you sit is the seat, just like at the movies or in a car. You put your hands on the handlebars. Notice that this word is a combination of two other useful words: handle (something you hold in your hand) and bar (a long straight piece of metal). You put your feet on the two pedals.  

The word bicycle actually means two (bi-) wheels (cycle). The rubber part of the wheel that touches the ground is called the tire. The thin metal pieces that connect to the middle of the wheel are called spokes.

The pedals connect to the rear wheel with a chain and many different circular gears. All of this is held together on a metal frame, the red part in this picture.

More free English vocabulary resources

Take a look at the different parts of a bike in English!

Take a look at the different parts of a bike in English!

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Parts of a Shoe

English Vocabulary - Parts of a Shoe

Next up in our Ginseng English series Parts of a... is shoes! Do you know the names for the parts of your shoes? Read on and you soon will!

Three parts of a shoe actually have the same names as parts of your body. The toe is the part of the shoe where your toes are. The heel is the part of the shoe where your heel (the back of your foot) goes. The third one is a little less expected. The part on top that comes from the inside is called the tongue! Your foot doesn't have a tongue of course, but this part of the shoe looks a little like a tongue! 👅

On top of the tongue, the strings that you tie together are called the laces. Finally, the part on the bottom that touches the ground is called the sole of the shoe.

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English Vocabulary - Parts of a Shoe

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Top 3 family films to watch in English (Guest Post)

Top 3 Family Films to Watch in English

(That the Whole Family Will Love!)

Ginseng is happy to host this guest post by Katie from Break Into English!

You know the drill: you’ve spent all week working hard to then go and pick the kids up from school. 

Luckily you don’t have to take them to that English academy across town since you’ve signed them up for online English classes for kids so you can go straight home instead of getting stuck in another unbearable traffic jam.

But you still have to cook them dinner. And get them to do their homework. And correct the homework. And bathe them. And put them to bed. All this five times a week. You can’t wait for the weekend! Then you think of all the time and energy you will need to keep them entertained when all you want to do is relax. You think about putting a movie on—but really you cannot deal with the idea of sitting through another mind-numbing kids’ movie, yet again.

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. 

Here are our top 3 family movies that adults will love too. You can all curl up on the sofa—the kids with popcorn and parents with a glass of wine (or two!)—and the whole family can brush up on their English listening skills without even feeling like they’re studying! Read on to find out which kids’ movies are also entertaining for adults, and let us explain why they can be a great complement to the English classes they’re already taking! It can even help them to prepare for the listening section of exams such as the Cambridge Flyers.

Lego Movie Poster.jpg
  1. The Lego Movie

Lego is everywhere. A timeless toy that never goes out of fashion (or gets boring!). Whether you love building princess castles or Star Wars spaceships, everyone loves Lego. As an adult you might be a little doubtful about whether this movie might actually work: will you really be entertained for 1 hour and 41 minutes watching Lego? The answer is Yes! 

The movie has a great storyline with lots of jokes (some of which only adults will get!). You’ll love seeing the relationships form between the characters and you definitely won’t be bored! 

Everything is Awesome!

The theme song ‘Everything is Awesome’ is extremely catchy and, if you listen to the lyrics carefully, they’re very funny for adults. For example, one part of the songs states, ‘Lost my job, there’s a new opportunity, more free time for my awesome community’. After the movie, if you really want to study English for half an hour or so look up the song and study the vocabulary. You’ll learn some new words whilst having a laugh at the irony of the song!


addams.jpg

2. The Addams Family

Well known around the world, The Addams Family is a great movie for both adults and kids (just make sure the kids aren’t too young; they might find it a little scary!). If you like scary movies, then you’ll love this slightly more tame family version. It’s a great movie for learning English. Even the theme song contains some really great advanced vocabulary:

They’re creepy and they’re kooky, 
mysterious and spooky,
They’re altogether ooky, 
The Addams Family

Creepy = scary

Kooky = strange

Spooky = scary (usually to do with ghosts!)

Ooky = unpleasant

Remember to note down any new vocabulary you come across!


Uncle Buck

3. Uncle Buck

This film really is great for all the family, as it is so relatable. When the parents of a family have to leave town, suddenly there is only one person available to look after their three children: the lazy, carefree Uncle Buck. The two younger children love their funny Uncle but the teenage girl of the family is a little harder to crack. You’ll love the characters and really enjoy watching them develop. And the kids will love all the mischief Uncle Buck gets up to!

Watching movies in English is a great way to practice your listening skills as well as pick up new vocabulary. Another engaging, interactive and practical way of learning English is via webcam.


This article was written by Katie Gyurkovits, a blogger and English Teacher at Break Into English.

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Silent L Words

If you’re looking for explanations and examples of words with silent L, you’ve come to the right place. Charts, definitions, word lists, and the history of how silent L became silent.

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Parts of a House

Across the world, everyone has some kind of home, though they all look very different! This post will describe the parts of a typical American house.

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Silent K Words

If you’re looking for explanations and examples of words with silent K, you’ve come to the right place. Charts, definitions, word lists, and the history of how silent K became silent.

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5 Myths About Learning English

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5 Myths About Learning English

5 Myths about Learning English

Learning English is tough. And it's even tougher because there's lots of bad information about what makes good education. Today, let's look at five myths—things that many people believe, but that are not true—about learning English.


1. We learn vocabulary and grammar in the order that we study.

Myth #1 We learn in the order we study

Many students assume that there is a logical order to the English grammar items and vocabulary words that you should try to study. They think that if we arrange things from "simple" to "complex" and study them in that order, we will learn them in that order. Most English textbooks are designed around this idea, but that simply isn't how it works.

Research shows that, yes, there are some basic patterns. But many factors, such as your first language, can really change the order that you learn grammar or vocabulary. This does not necessarily mean that we should not study grammar or vocabulary directly, but most experts now say that the curriculum should be based around something other than grammar topics.  

Some studies suggest that second language learners acquire a second language in different orders depending on their native language.
— Language Teacher Toolkit

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2. Native speakers are better teachers

Myth #2 Native speakers = better teachers

There are English schools around the world that advertise, "English Lessons with Native English Teachers!" These are especially common online (see below). And many English learners seem to share the idea that native speakers are the best teachers. But why?

An ad emphasizing "native speakers."

An ad emphasizing "native speakers."

A native speaker of English did not have to study and learn the language as an adult. They haven't necessarily experienced all the same challenges and struggles as someone who learned the language at a later age. Native speakers can often follow English grammar patterns without knowing what that grammar pattern is, so they can do it but they cannot teach it.

‘All sorts of people are fluent, but only a tiny proportion of them are sufficiently aware of the structure of the language that they know how to teach it.’
— David Crystal

They can probably pronounce TH, but they might not be able to tell you how to pronounce TH. In other words, a native speaker might have the ability to speak English very well, but they often don't have the skills needed to teach English well. As linguist David Crystal puts it, "All sorts of people are fluent, but only a tiny proportion of them are sufficiently aware of the structure of the language that they know how to teach it." In many ways, a non-native English speaking teacher can be more helpful than a native speaker! Of course, there are very good native and non-native teachers, but skill and qualification as a teacher is much more important than your first language. 

Check out this article at TEFL Equity Advocates to learn more about how we select the best teachers at Ginseng.

3. Accuracy is the most important thing

Myth #3 Accuracy is most important

So many of my students tell me that they want me to correct them every time they make a mistake in their speaking or writing. My response is, "No, no you don't want that." When students ask this, they assume that English is all about accuracy, and that improving your English means eliminating errors from your English.

But English is about a lot more than accuracy. In fact, focusing too much on accuracy can really limit your fluency, your ability to speak rapidly and naturally, and fluency is an important part of language learning. If you are too worried about making mistakes, you might also avoid more challenging, complex structures, and complexity is another important part of language learning. As your understanding of the language develops, you need to try more complex sentences and structures, and you will make mistakes as you experiment. Those mistakes are important, and if you have someone correcting you every time you make a mistake, you won't experiment as much!  

Accuracy is important but it's not everything! We need to balance accuracy, fluency, and complexity as we learn English


4. Learning English should be a constant challenge

Myth $4: Learning English should be a constant challenge

Learning a language can be a challenge, but that doesn't mean that everything you do in English class should be as difficult and challenging as possible. Generally, you just want small challenges: new language that is just a little above your current level. This is called comprehensible input. Comprehensible means you can understand it. Input is language that you take in.

But there is also a lot of important language acquisition that happens when you are doing things in English that are not challenging at all! Extensive reading, or easy pleasure reading, is very important to developing your English. So is casual conversation, which can really develop fluency!

Make sure that you spend some time challenging yourself with English that is just above your level, and some time using the English that you already know. Again, it's all about balancing those two!

5. Progress in English is linear

Myth #5 Progress in English is Linear

This can be really frustrating, but learning English is not a straight line from no English to fluent English. Some parts of the language you will learn quickly. Others will take years. Generally we learn a lot in the first year or two that we study, and our learning slows down after that. Sometimes it will even seem like your English is getting worse! Don't worry. All of this is common and part of the process. 


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Level: B1

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Parts of a Car

Basic English Vocabulary - Parts of a Car

Welcome to the first post in a new series on basic vocabulary from the Ginseng English Blog: Parts of a... Today, let's look at some useful vocabulary for the outside of a car!

On a car there are four tires, two front tires and two rear tires. Front and rear are useful words when we talk about cars. A car has two bumpers to protect you in an accident: a front bumper and a rear bumper. Above the bumpers are lights. There are headlights at the front of the car, and taillights at the rear of the car. On each side of the car is a side-view mirror, to help you see behind you. Inside the car is a rear-view mirror, too.

What other car vocabulary do you know? What do you want to know? Comment below!

More free online English posts

English Vocabulary - Parts of a Car

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Nonexistent Words

Last week, Dictionary.com published a fun list of words that don't exist. What does that mean? Well, they're not just random letters, they are words that you might expect to exist because of other words that look like their opposites. Confused? Here's an example.

Combobulated

Discombobulated is a real word in English. Usually when we add the prefix dis-, we are creating the opposite of another word. For example, we can take agree, add dis-, and we get the opposite: disagree. Right? This works for lots of words: appear/disappear, approve/disapprove, believe/disbelieve, connect/disconnect. But discombobulate is funny, because combobulate is not a word. It doesn't exist.

Reckful

Here's another one. We can add the suffixes -less and -ful to many nouns to turn them into adjectives. A person with no hope is hopeless. A person with lots of hope is hopeful. Something that causes no pain is painless, and something that causes a lot of pain is painful. Other examples are fear/fearless/fearful, care/careless/careful, color/colorless/colorful, use/useless/useful.

But we have another word in English: reckless. Reckless is similar in meaning to careless. Based on the pattern we looked at, you might think that reck is a noun and reckful is the opposite of reckless. But, as always, learning English is crazy, and reckful and reck do not exist in English.

A few more:

Disheveled is an adjective meaning not neat. But sheveled does not exist.

Nonchalant means cool, relaxed, and calm. But chalant does not exist.

Disgust is a strong feeling of unpleasantness or sickness. But gust does not exist.


Check the original post at Dictionary.com for more! Can you add any in the comments?


More Free Online English Vocabulary Tips

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Nonexistent Antonyms - Ginseng English

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Basic Geometry Vocabulary

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Basic Geometry Vocabulary

Basic geometry vocabulary

Rob from Ginseng English recently took a trip to Shanghai and recorded a lesson on geograph—err, geometry vocabulary. Take a moment and have a look!

Geometry Vocabulary List

Vertical (adj.) - positioned up and down rather than from side to side; going straight up

Horizontal (adj.) - positioned from side to side rather than up and down; parallel to the ground

Diagonal (adj.) - not going straight across or up and down

Beam (n.) - a long and heavy piece of wood or metal that is used as a support in a building

Post (n.) - a piece of wood or metal that is set in a vertical position, especially as a support or marker

Narrow (adj.) - long and not wide

Wide (adj.) - extending a great distance from one side to the other; not narrow

Free Vocabulary Resources

If you're trying to improve your English vocabulary online, check out these other free vocabulary resources from the Ginseng English Blog:
 

 

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British Bad Words

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British Bad Words

One of the most interesting and difficult things about learning a new language is learning which words are bad, and how bad they are. If you learn English, for example, we have the words crap and shit. Both have the same meaning, but shit is a much stronger word. Your mom might tell you not to say shit, but most people don't mind crap.

A recent article at British newspaper The Indepedent describes a survey that was done by the British government's Ofcom (of + com = office of communications). This office decides what language is okay to say on TV. In the UK some language and content is acceptable after 9:00, when most kids are not watching, but not okay before that.

In the survey, they asked 200 people to rank bad words. Different rankings were mild (not bad, okay for kids), medium (maybe okay on TV before 9:00pm), strong (mostly okay on TV after 9:00pm), strongest (never okay before 9:00, generally okay after).

Here's the full list (sorry Mom! 🙊)


If you like this, check out these other great English posts!

 

 

 

British Bad Words

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