Subject Material

6 Extra Material on Vocabulary

Published: 14.12.2009
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The material on the following pages is intended to increase your active vocabulary. Norwegian-produced English often suffers from lack of preciseness and variation in the choice of words. Improvement in this area is bound to increase the quality of your writing.

Task 1

Match a word/phrase on the left with a word/phrase on the right with roughly the same meaning. On the whole, those on the right are somewhat more formal than those on the left.

serious disclose
very interesting vomit
by the way coincide
careful bashful
look after grave
clear absorbing
shy transparent
be sick be responsible for
tell a secret cautious
happen at the same time incidentally

 

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serious grave
very interesting absorbing
by the way incidentally
careful cautious
look after be responsible for
clear transparent
shy bashful
be sick vomit
tell a secret disclose
happen at the same time coincide
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Task 2

Put in a suitable word from the 20 listed below this piece into the twenty open spaces so that the text reads like idiomatic English.

We have grown used to their sirens ______ the peace of a sunny afternoon. Now, _____have found a new way to make themselves heard to householders: by shouting crime _______ advice through loudhailers.
Officers have been ordered to use megaphones to _____ residents who have left doors or windows open. They have even been instructed to enter unlocked _____ and wake up those asleep inside if their home is not ______
It is all part of an _____ by the Northamptonshire police to cut down on the number of summer _____.  If _____, it could be copied by other forces.
The megaphone patrols have not gone____ well with residents, however, who have criticised them as patronising and _____. Shirley P.,75, said: “ I don’t want police officers coming into my house  and _____ at me with a megaphone. They wouldn’t get in anyway, because I am careful when I go to bed at night. All they are doing is waking my dog and setting him ____ barking at all hours.”
The ______ began two weeks ago in the Thorplands and Lumbertubs areas of Northampton, which have seen a _____ of burglaries in recent weeks.
According to police, one in four of 30 recent burglaries was down to _____ failing to lock up their houses_____.  Inspector Mike Grady said: “ _____, a good proportion of burglaries in this ____ take place at homes that have been left _____.

 

Down, sadly, shattering, initiative, secure, intrusive, police, off, properly, county, insecure, properties, scheme, prevention, spate, alert, burglaries, successful, bellowing, tenants

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Task 2
shattering, police, prevention, alert, properties, secure, initiative, burglaries, successful, down, intrusive, bellowing, off, scheme, spate, tenants, properly, sadly, county, insecure.

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Task 3

Match each the 15 phrasal verbs on the left by a meaning equivalent on the right. Consult dictionaries if necessary. Then use each phrasal verb in a sentence in which the meaning becomes clear. You may want to use examples from the Internet or from dictionaries.

put something down to take responsibility for
make up avoid questions by telling lies
be on to something interrupt
butt in encounter somebody accidentally
crack down unwillingly pay a lot
walk off with explain something as
take on somebody constitute
step in extend, make longer
see to something steal
put somebody up convey/communicate successfully
run into somebody suppress something
pad out challenge somebody
fork out intervene
put something across accommodate somebody
fob somebody off accept that somebody has a point

 

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Task 3
put something down to explain something as
make up constitute
be on to something to have a good idea
butt in interrupt
crack down to take strong action against something
walk off with steal
take on somebody challenge somebody
step in intervene
see to something take responsibility for
put somebody up accommodate somebody
run into somebody encounter somebody accidentally
pad out extend, make longer
fork out unwillingly pay a lot
put something across convey/communicate successfully
fob somebody off avoid questions by telling lies
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Task 4

One aspect of impoverished English is that writers keep repeating their favourite words- sometimes referred to as lexical ‘teddybears’- thereby creating a text which suffers under lack of variation.

The adjectives interesting, good and nice, and the verbs get, be and have are such overused  words.  The following are alternatives to one or the other of the six ‘teddybears, but they are of course richer and more specific in meaning.

Possess, delightful, exist, receive, thought-provoking, include, take place, engaging, mean, constitute, catch, competent, compelling, enjoy, acquire, likeable, intriguing, outstanding, amount to, consist of, fascinating, represent.

Choose a suitable alternative from the list above to replace the underlined ‘teddybears’ in these sentences. In some cases more than one alternative is possible. Discuss your choices with a classmate.

She has a strong will. The discussion was profound and interesting. The committee has ten members. Watch out so you don’t get a cold! The concert is tomorrow afternoon. That breach of promise is a threat to our good relationship.  I must say you have a good family. Everybody in the office finds Bill a nice fellow. That initiative will get a lot of support among the local residents. The problem is only in your head. He made an interesting remark which left most of us puzzled. Accepting such behaviour is accepting that people can do whatever they like.

The new research group includes a number of very good programmers. The lecture was lively and interesting. We have considerable job security in our company. In the second half some of the home players were very good.  There was good evidence for the boy’s innocence. During my stay in the north I got a taste for smoked herring. Did you get a letter from the tax man the other day?   All these cutbacks are a dramatic reduction in our services.

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Task 4
She possesses a strong will.
The discussion was profound and thought-provoking/intriguing/fascinating.
The committee consists of ten members.
Watch out so you don’t catch a cold!
The concert takes place tomorrow afternoon.
The breach of promise constitutes a threat to our good relationship.
I must say you have a delightful family.
Everybody in the office finds Bill a likeable fellow.
That initiative will receive a lot of support among the local residents.
The problem exists only in your head.
He made an intriguing remark which left most of us puzzled.
Accepting such behaviour means accepting that people can do whatever they like.
The new research group includes a number of very competent programmers.
The lecture was lively and engaging/fascinating.
We enjoy considerable job security in our company.
In the second half some of the home players were outstanding.
There was compelling evidence for the boy’s innocence.
During my stay in the north I acquired a taste for smoked herring.
Did you receive a letter from the tax man the other day?
All these cut-backs represent/amount to a dramatic reduction in our services.

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Task 5

When words occur together in authentic phrases and sentences, the combinations are not haphazard. There are patterns of more or less frequent combinations. For example, you are likely to have come across:

a disturbing development, inclement weather, sound advice, badly needed, water a lawn, be easily frightened, superbly qualified.
These are examples of collocations:  two (or more) words which often occur together.

The following combinations are unlikely: a mature development, likeable weather, clever shoes, badly frequent, roam a lawn, be easily ripe, superbly fine.

They have the quality of unidiomatic English. In fact, a lot of odd English is odd precisely because the words used do not go well together. Bearing this in mind, attempt the following tasks:

Sub-task A
Find FIVE adjectives that go well (collocate) with advice, as in sound advice

Sub-task B
Find five verbs that can replace present in this collocation: present a report

Sub-task C
Find five nouns that can replace story in this collocation: a convincing story

Sub-task D
Find five adverbs that can replace sincerely in this collocation: I sincerely believe that…

Sub-task E
Find five verbs that can replace stated in this collocation: he stated that …

Sub-task F
Find five adjectives that can replace critical in this collocation: express a critical attitude to

Sub-task G
Find five nouns that can replace cut in this collocation: a dramatic cut in funding

Sub-task H
Find five adjectives that can replace major in this collocation:  to play a major role in…

Sub-task I
Find five adjectives that can replace elegant in this collocation: an elegant hotel

Sub-task J
Find five verbs that can replace walked in this collocation: she walked across the street

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Task 5
Task 5 A: useful/legal/friendly/unhelpful/much-needed/ advice
Task 5 B: write/submit/draft/revise/finalise a report
Task 5 C: a convincing explanation/result/argument/conclusion/win story
Task 5 D: I honestly/frankly/whole-heartedly/naively/never believe
Task 5 E: he claimed/announced/maintained/argued/insisted that
Task 5 F: express a supportive/negative/constructive/familiar/conventional attitude
Task 5 G: a dramatic reduction/increase/slash/cut-back/rise in funding
Task 5 H: to play a central/minor/significant/important/comparable role in
Task 5 I: an/a Victorian/crummy/impressive/expensive/central hotel
Task 5 J: she rushed/hobbled/shuffled/dashed/staggered across the street
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Task 6

Match the words/phrases on the left with an appropriate synonym (a word/phrase with roughly the same meaning) on the right.

Link generous
Absurd Gotham (City)
Large venue
Mix prevent
Block observe
Watch premature
Unknown admit
Stubborn rewarding
State (without having proof) recharge
Place (where something takes place) plummet
Plaintive obscure
Profitable contribute
Own up connection
Fall quickly obstinate
Chip in ludicrous
Too soon/early recess
Fill again mingle
A short time ago claim
Break/pause sad
Be easily upset sensitive
New York City rewarding

 

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link connection
absurd ludicrous
large generous
mix mingle
block prevent
watch observe
unknown obscure
stubborn obstinate
state (without having proof) claim
place where something takes place venue
plaintive sad
profitable rewarding
own up admit
fall quickly plummet
chip in contribute
too soon/early premature
fill again recharge
break/pause recess
be easily upset sensitive
New York City Gotham City
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Task 7

Match the word/phrases on the left with an appropriate antonym (word/phrase with roughly the opposite meaning) on the right.

Thick careless
Urban aggravate
Undercook inappropriate
Undecided predictably
Genuine skinny
Suitable determined
Facilitate level-headed
False overdo
Be a fanatic fictitious
Surprisingly rural
Prudent genuine
Bumpy handle well
Bungle mismanage
manage smooth
tender underdone

 

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thick skinny
urban rural
undercook overdo
undecided determined
genuine fictitious
suitable inappropriate
facilitate aggravate
false genuine
be a fanatic be level-headed
surprisingly predictably
prudent careless
bumpy smooth
bungle handle well
manage mismanage
tender underdone
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Task 8

Put in a suitable preposition in the open spaces in this text.

The constructions described _____ this book for the most part identify a ‘common core’ ___ English grammar- that is, features which will be found ____ virtually every situation where the language is used. However, it would be wrong to conclude that there is no systematic grammatical variation in English. Although grammar is the least noticeable dimension ____ language variation, several constructions have been affected ____ regional, social or historical change, and many varieties are distinguished stylistically ____ the frequency ____which particular grammatical features are used.

Caution
Regional variation is not a stable phenomenon. Dialects are always changing, and influence each other ____ sometimes unpredictable ways. Patterns ___ American English, ____ particular, have ____ some time been influencing the speech ____ people ___ other part ____the world, and several ____ the USAGE issues identified ____ this book have come _____  ____ this reason.
Not everyone likes it when they notice the emergence of different grammatical patterns ____ the ones they have themselves used _____childhood. Some people get angry, condemn the changes, and protest ____ them _____ anyone who will listen. Change is invariably considered to be ____ the worse.  But no one has ever managed to stop the course ____ grammatical change, as can be seen ____ the way English grammar has steadily evolved ____ the centuries.

From David Crystal, Rediscover Grammar, Pearson-Longman, 2003

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Task 8
In, of, in, of, by, by, with

Caution
In, of, in, for, of, in, of, of, in, about, for, from, since, against, to, for, of, from, over

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Task 9

Rewrite these rather complicated and wordy sentences into briefer and more concise alternatives without changing the main point that is made in each.

  1. Rewrite these rather complicated and wordy sentences into briefer and more concise alternatives without changing the main point that is made in each.
  2. It is undeniable that a large majority of non-native learners of English experience a number of problems in attempting to master the phonetic patterns of the language.
  3. Tea, whether of the Chinese or the Indian variety, is well known to be high on the list of those beverages which are most frequently drunk by the inhabitants of the British Isles.
  4. My sister shows a distinct tendency to prefer the company of people who are no longer in their first flower of youth.
  5. It is not uncommon to encounter sentences which, though they contain a great number of words and are constructed in a highly complex way, none the less turn out on inspection to convey very little meaning.
  6. The evidence taken from the observation of the behaviour of apes and children suggests that there are three clearly separable groups of simple causes for the outbreak of fighting and the exhibition of aggressiveness by individuals.

 

Material partly based on Michael Swan, Inside Meaning, CUP,1988


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Task 9 (suggestions)
A Rewrite these long sentences into shorter alternatives without changing their basic meaning.
B It is true that very many foreign learners of English have problems learning the sounds of the language.
C Tea, both Chinese and Indian, is among the most popular drinks in the UK and Ireland.
D My sister prefers the company of slightly older people.
E Often we come across very long and complex sentences which turn out to have little meaning.
F If we look at how apes and children behave, we see three simple reasons why they start fighting and become aggressive.

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