Semantics: New Words

5th May 2022

agent nouns

The suffix –ist is used to create an agent noun — a noun that denotes someone or something that does something. Two suffixes more commonly used to create agent nouns are –er and –or, as in worker, bookseller, beginner, visitor, creator, and accelerator.


The development of a more favorable meaning for a word. Take, for example, quell. In current usage, banks move to “quell inflation.” Governments issue proclamations to “quell fears”.

In Old English poetry, on the other hand, when a warrior “quelled” his opponent, he killed him.

Semantic amelioration is not as common as semantic deterioration, in which a formerly inoffensive word acquires a negative meaning.


As a grammatical term, it means, “used without the article.”

From ‘Daily Writing Tips’

When commenting on the opening sentence of Dan Brown’s The DaVinci Code, Geoffrey Pullum called it an “anarthrous occupational nominal premodifier.”

Renowned curator Jacques Saunière staggered through the vaulted archway of the museum’s Grand Gallery.

Pullum said that the construction is “reasonable” in a newspaper, but has the “wrong feel and style for a novel.” Had Brown written, “The renowned curator Jacques Sauniére,” the sentence would have escaped criticism.


Commas with appositives

An appositive is a noun or noun element that follows another noun and serves to identify it further. The nouns are said to be “in apposition.”

An appositive phrase usually follows the word it explains or identifies, but it may also precede it.

The term derives from a Latin compound meaning, “to set beside or near.” Nouns in apposition are set beside one another. When one of the nouns simply restates the other one, commas are needed to set it off.

Andrew Johnson, the seventeenth US president, ranks among the three worst presidents of the United States.

The phrase “the seventeenth US president” is just another way of saying “Andrew Johnson.” It provides additional information, but leaving it out would not change the meaning of the sentence. The additional information is non-essential, so it is set off with commas.

Take another example:

My English teacher says that Fitzgerald’s novel The Great Gatsby is overrated.

Here, The Great Gatsby is in apposition to novel. Because Fitzgerald wrote more than one novel, the specific title is essential information. It cannot be omitted without obscuring the meaning of the sentence. The teacher does not necessarily think that the author’s other novels are overrated. No commas are needed when the additional information is essential.

In the following sentence the nouns in apposition restate the nouns that precede them. Because the information they provide is non-essential, commas are needed to set them off:

As a team, we send our thoughts and deepest sympathies to Peter’s wife, Jill, and his children, Mark and Hilary.

False Titles

A common type of apposition found principally in journalistic writing is the “false title.” This is a descriptive phrase placed before a noun, but used as if it were a title.

Novelist John le Carré has set himself up as the psycho-analyst of the cold war.—Time

Cellist Joshua Gordon, in the slow movement, showed off his rich, lyrical tone. Buffalo News

This construction is known as “a Time-style adjective” because it’s thought that Time magazine either began the practice or popularized it.


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The diaeresis diacritic indicates that two adjoining letters that would normally form a digraph and be pronounced as one sound, are instead to be read as separate vowels in two syllables. For example, in the spelling ‘coöperate’, the diaeresis reminds the reader that the word has four syllables co-op-er-ate, not three, ‘*coop-er-ate’. In British English this usage has been considered obsolete for many years, and in US English, although it persisted for longer, it is now considered archaic as well. However, we still see it in words such as naïve.

endonym and exonym

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

An endonym (from Greekéndon, ‘inner’ + ónoma, ‘name’; also known as autonym) is a common, internal name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used inside that particular place, group, or linguistic community in question; it is their self-designated name for themselves, their homeland, or their language.

For instance, Deutschland is the endonym for the country that is also known by the exonym Germany in English and Allemagne in France

An exonym (from Greek: éxō, ‘outer’ + ónoma, ‘name’; also known as xenonym) is a common, external name for a geographical place, group of people, individual person, language or dialect, meaning that it is used only outside that particular place, group, or linguistic community.[1] Exonyms exist not only for historico-geographical reasons, but also in consideration of difficulties when pronouncing foreign words.[1]

The Premier League, also known exonymously as the English Premier League or the EPL is the top level of the English football league system.

Please Note: All photos are taken from Google Images or free photo sites, and are used for educational purposes only. No copyright infringement or offense is intended. If I have used your photo or image, and you wish me to remove it, just ask. This site is not monetized, I run it on my own dollar. Thank you.

Adult Speaking Class, Level 3: Holiday of a lifetime !

9th June 2020

Activity: Holiday advertisement language

Holiday adverts on tv | Toluna

Present a holiday using a mixture of advertising slogans and practical information. Remember:

It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it

Make your voice sound excited, as if this were the best holiday ever !

Students can choose a destination of their choice. In the following blogs, I’ll include some examples from different cities.

Holiday terms:

transfers / half-board / inclusive / amenities / package tour / itinerary


breathtaking / stunning/ sensational / incredible / remarkable/ exclusive /

once in a lifetime experience/ never to be forgotten / unbeatable prices

book now to avoid disappointment/ best decision you’ll ever make

holidays to suit all budgets, from 7* luxury to backpacking


To begin with / furthermore … additionally / the fact is … / therefore

Demonstration with an advert for London:

Best Summer Holiday Ideas for London - Picniq Blog

Now is the perfect time to visit London, England’s glorious capital. The weather is perfect for walking, so you can enjoy the lush parks, world-famous museums and incredible, unbelievable shops. There is something for everyone … and more ! Like sports ? Go to one of the many Premier League football games. Love shopping ? Everything is here – shop till you drop ! Adore culture – soak up hundreds of years of history.

Flights from TSN airport daily. Seven-day all-inclusive package tour starting from only 50m VND ! All transfers and transport included. Air-conditioned mini bus with Vietnamese-speaking guide.

Asian Tourist in London Taking Stock Footage Video (100% Royalty ...

Holiday advertising vocabulary:

Try to use as many of these adjectives and expressions as possible:

breathtaking / spectacular / unforgettable / magnificent / unique / exhilarating

once-in-a-lifetime / never-to-be-forgotten / unmissable / natural beauty 

Practical Information

visa / currency / package tour / independent traveller / full-board / excursions

Everyday idioms, everyday

3rd June 2020

Test your idioms, expressions, phrasal verbs and creative writing

London Migrant Communities: a city made and moved by migrants ...

The hustle and bustle of everyday life, seen in this photo of Liverpool Street Station in London. People coming and going, jumping on trains, rushing to work, running around like headless chickens.

An everyday scene, with everyday expressions. This article is for you to test your knowledge of idioms, after reading the previous two blogs.

Without further ado …

Don’t just stand there ! Let’s get down to some work

Life in London: blogging through time studying abroad - The Daily ...
Chop chop, jump to it

Write short sentences, or dialogues, using the following idioms and expressions.

what have you been getting up to ? // raining cats and dogs

chockablock // hold your horses // under the weather // chop chop // vicious circle

// can you follow me ? // a screw loose // not my cup of tea // kick the bucket //

cut and dry // turn over a new leaf // pull your socks up //

as much use as a chocolate teapot // let’s call it a day

You may not know some of the above, so just ask your teacher, or do an online search

Southeast Asian Student Enrollment Up 85% in Taiwan|International ...

Next up, using phrasal verbs

Write sentences using as many of these phrasal verbs as you can:

Phrasal verbs with ‘get’:

get back to studying / get on with work / get down to some work/ I get it ! (idiom) // get on with people /get on in life / get ahead in business /

Phrasal verbs with ‘make’:

make a decision / make your mind up / make a career move / a make-over /  make an effort / make or break time / what do you make of it ?

Creative Writing

Determined Latina Student Works On Stock Footage Video (100 ...

Scenario One: Two people meet on their first day at an English centre

Scenario Two: A manager has a meeting with a staff member who is always late


Introduce yourself // Where do they live // Why are they here ? //

What do they like ? // Compare music and films // What they plan to do //

Agree to be friends and study together

Transfer Students Meet & Greet: 2-3:00 p.m. - Undergraduate ...


Quick hello // Reason why staff was late today //

Manager is unhappy – wants change // Manager suggests less wages //

Must renegotiate new contract // Staff has problems at work //

Staff apologies, promises to be better

6 Ways to Keep Things From Getting Worse When Your Boss Starts ...

You can decide what the characters are like – are they:

friendly, shy, out-going, arrogant, funny, dependable, reliable, moody … ?

This will affect HOW they speak – their stress & intonation and body language.

You can decide what the locations are like – are they:

small and intimate / large and impersonal / pleasant environments / dirty … ?


IELTS: Sentence Building

8th December 2020

Talking about present activities and future plans

Here's an amazing reason to holiday in Thailand - Lifestyle News
I have my heart set on visiting Thailand

Here’s a chance to explain what you’re doing now, then to say what you want to do in the future:


Currently // however // I plan to

At the moment // although // I would love to

Right now // though // I have my heart set on


Currently I am studying however I plan to work in business.

Now that was a very basic response, no way adequate for an IELTS class, so how to extend it, using L-FWs and idioms.

REMEMBER: always be thinking of a suitable idiom. The subject is study, so we have:

burning the candle at both ends // put my nose to the grindstone // pass with flying colours

So, let’s rock ‘n’ roll !

Currently I am studying at ABC University, which is in District 7, putting my nose to the grindstone in order to pass with flying colours. However I plan to find a job in the business field such as banking or investment in order to buy a modern house as well as supporting my family, who have supported me through my studies.


Make IELTS sentences from these details:

studying English

saving up money

working with a charity

Choose the one you that appeals most to you.

To assist : At the moment, I am working for an animal charity because I detest the horrific treatment of animals although I would love other people to share my views

Fostering Rescue Dogs at R House in Saigon, Vietnam w/ Geneva, Alex, Thien  [EN VERSION] | TÂM SHOW - YouTube
R House restaurant and rescue dog organisation

Explaining your answers – give examples and reasons

Some people are cruel to animals: explain – give an example (s) and then your reasons. You will have to use Part III styles introductions because the subject is so broad and general.

For a blog specifically on Part III responses, click here:

Language to use:

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me …

I have heard that …

I remember reading somewhere that …

Personally I disagree with … however I can understand …

Maybe the government should change the law …

One reason could be that …

Use these phrases to ask each other about problems in your country such as pollution, litter, education, or … you decide.

23rd November 2020

Introduction to sentence building and complex sentences, with exercises as well as vocabulary and idioms, can be found on this blog:

27th October 2020

Practice making complex sentences, with two clauses at least, from these simple sentences.


Cinema Paradiso getting Ultra HD 4K Blu-ray release in UK – Film Stories

Johnny always went to the cinema when he was a child.

As a child, Johnny always went to the cinema.

GRAMMAR NOTE – the first word after the supporting clause has to be the subject.

Answers at end of exercise

We always played games when we had Mr Tony as our teacher.

He speaks English well although his written work is rather poor.

The Who | Discography | Discogs

The Who were formed in west London in the early 1960s. They are a very famous, influential band despite never having a Number 1 hit single.

Asian Woman Selfie stock photos and royalty-free images, vectors and  illustrations | Adobe Stock

My neighbour only works in a convenience store. She thinks she is a big star. She is constantly taking selfies.


When we had Mr Tony as our teacher, we always played games.

Although his written work is rather poor, he speaks English well.

Despite never having a Number 1 hit single, The Who, who are from west London, are a very famous, influential band.

Although she thinks she is a big star, constantly taking selfies, my neighbour only works in a convenience store.

Complex Sentences

I have written another blog about complex sentences which you can access here:

Complex sentences, which you will need to get a respectable IELTS score, are actually quite simple to form as they merely require two or more pieces of information in one sentence.

Seattle's Most Instagrammable Places in Queen Anne - Emma's Edition in 2020  | Instagrammable places, Portrait photography poses, Attractions in seattle

Ms Jane is from Seattle which is the biggest city in Washington state, USA.

We know where Jane is from as well as something about the city of Seattle. Now, we can add more information by saying something about Jane, such as her profession.

Ms Jane, who is a medical students, is from Seattle which is the biggest city in Washington state, USA.

Do you know this actor ?

Rowan Atkinson (Actor and Comedian) - On This Day

Mr Bean, who is played by the actor Rowan Atkinson, is extremely popular and tremendously successful, being shown all over the world, not forgetting his appearance at the London Olympics in 2012.

This example has been extended by adding more adverbs and adjectives. We know the actor’s name, how popular he is, as well as learning that he was part of the UK Olympics and when that was.

 answer immediately but introduce the answer by repeating or rephrasing the question:

That’s a very interesting question

Well, there is so much to say about that subject, where shall I start ?

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about …

One of my students mentioned that she was saving up for a pair of Converse trainers:

Converse Chuck Taylor® All Star® Leather Hi |

It’s funny you put that question to me because earlier today I was just thinking about what I would buy if I had the money.

I have my heart set on buying a pair of Converse, which is an American company with a star logo, who make very fashionable footwear.

To make the sentence more interesting, as well as complex, I simply stated the country, the logo and what they produce … piece of cake, hey ?

OK, your turn … write a complex sentence about these products. Additionally, practice writing different types of introductions:

LG K50 price in Hong Kong (HK)
LG phone from South Korea
Rolex watch from Switzerland
Watch a Hands-On Review of PS5 on YouTube Today - EssentiallySports
Playstation 5
Honda Airblade - MotorVina Official Site - Motorcycle Vietnam Ltd - Vietnam  Motorcycle Tours - Vietnam Motorcycle Rental - Vietnam 1 way rental -  Vietnam motorbike tours and one way rental
Honda Airblade, a Japanese company

22nd July 2019

Here are some tips to help you expand your sentences, as well as incorporating language use that IELTS examiners will expect. Also bear in mind that the way you speak, the para-linguistics, is equally important.

Sentence building – becoming fluent and coherent


  • adverbs
  • adjectives
  • opinions phrases
  • linking words and discourse markers
  • new vocabulary

EXAMPLE: I like coffee


  1. how MUCH do you like it (adverbs) ?
  2. What kind of coffee (adjectives) ?
  3. What do you think about this ? (opinions)
  4. WHY do you like it (give reasons)
  5. interesting words, phrases, idioms


I enjoy coffee (a little / incredibly) because it helps bring people together as well as making our minds become quite active and somewhat excited. Coffee, from my point of view, is essentially useful if we use it in moderation. On the other hand, coffee can be a dreadful waste of money not to mention having a detrimental effect on our health such as insomnia. Despite the negative aspects, coffee makes me feel over the moon!

EXERCISE: Where do you drink coffee ?

Plan –

Introduction: one complex sentence.

Where do you go ? Do you go to many different types ? What do you usually order ?

Why do you go there ? What are the good points ? How often do you visit ? With whom do you go ? How long do you spend there ?

Compare the store with another (price, choice, comfort, amenities).

Are there any negative aspects ? Price, location, crowds, parking etc.

Conclusion: one sentence summary of what you have said.

IF you don’t drink coffee, then you can explain why not, and where you like to go to hang out with friends. Even if you never go out, you can talk about that as it will afford you the opportunity to give reasons and build more complex sentences.

Highlands Coffee, a popular chain in Vietnam.

Practice adjectives by describing this photo.

Increase your word power

Match the basic words with others of similar meaning

For example boring = tedious

interesting attain on time fascinating

forgetful miserable live (I live in) jovial

smart (clever) exhausted

unhappy punctual

happy feasible

possible reside

tired intelligent

get (a qualification) environment

place absent-minded


What is your favourite beer ?

Image result for czech beer"

Well, I like many beers but my favourite is Czech beer. For example, Pilsner, Budweiser or Staropramen. I think the taste is very good as well as being excellent quality. 

Along with Czech beer, I also really like Mexican beer such as Corona or Desperado. 

Having said that, these beers can be expensive so sometimes I just drink Vietnamese beer, maybe Saigon Red or 333 because they are much cheaper.

1 Answer the question in a proper sentence

2 Give examples

3 Give reasons

4 What else ?

5 An opposite conjunction (but, however, having said that, on the other hand)

6 What instead ?

Remember to use adverbs and adjectives to make your speech more interesting

Well, I like many beers but my favourite is Czech beer. 

For example, Pilsner, Budweiser or Staropramen. 

I think the taste is very good as well as being excellent quality. 

Along with Czech beer, I also really like Mexican beer such as Corona or Desperado. 

Having said that, these beers can be expensive 

so sometimes I just drink Vietnamese beer, maybe Saigon Red or 333 because they are much cheaper.

Ask each other some of the following questions:

The interviewer must keep asking questions until the speaker has nothing more to say.

Interviewer can ask, ‘Why do you say that?’, ‘What other reasons?’ ‘Why else ?’

Do you think sports are good ?

What do you like about working for your company ? / Attending your school ?

Do you spend, save or invest your money ?

What films do you like best ? Do you go to the cinema or watch at home ?