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Concourse 2




Classes of words

write Task 1: Words come in different flavours.  Try to classify the words in red in these sentences.
Make a note of the name of the word class if you know it or what the word is doing (or both) and then click here for some comments.
  1. The museum was on the corner.
  2. The man went to the museum.
  3. He drank some coffee.
  4. He walked around and he looked at nearly everything.
  5. He was exhausted.
  6. He sat down heavily on a bench.
  7. This bench was in a park.
  8. "Aaah," he said, feeling relieved.
  9. After a while, he went home.
write Task 2: To make sure you have understood all that, take a little test to check.



Words do not usually hang around on their own.  They are seen in relationships with other words.

write Task 3: Here are some examples.  What is the relationship between the word on the left and the word on the right?
When you have a note, click here.
  Word 1 Word 2
a The rain was... ...torrential
b Not torrential... ...just a bit drizzly
c big small
d enormous huge
e fire conflagration
f burn burnable
g polite impoliteness
h mother child

write Task 4: To make sure you have understood all that, take a little test to check.



think Task 4: What does 'book' mean? seems a simple enough question to answer, doesn't it?
Actually, there are some problems.  Click here when you see some.

You can invent your own examples, of course, but the fact is that most words in most languages can mean more than one thing.

What does mean actually mean?

There's an added complication.
To understand it, you need to learn the difference between two terms:

this is what the base form of the word actually signifies.  For example, a lamp is a thing for lighting (in fact, of course, quite a number of different kinds of light as we have seen above).
this is the emotional significance we attach to something.  For example, a pig is a familiar farmyard animal but, in English, it can also be a derogatory term of insult.

Many words exhibit connotation as well as denotation.  Here's a very short list:
terrorist, partisan, freedom fighter, cop, glass ceiling, queer, gay, sexy, fascist, dog, princess, bitch etc.
Not all of those words will have particularly strong connotations for everyone, of course, and they certainly differ between languages and cultures, but it is important to be aware of the existence of such things.


Learning more about words

The tasks and information above have given you the basics and, if you have done it all conscientiously, you are well placed to teach vocabulary and help your learners.
There is, as you may imagine, rather a lot more to it than that.
The initial plus training index has an entire section devoted to lexis (the technical term for words) but, to start you off, here are a few links to the simpler guides.

guide topic description
word class this will give you more information about the various classes of words with which we started this section
collocation find out more about how words naturally occur with other words and the kinds of combinations which are possible
count / mass nouns find out more about the differences between countable nouns (such as dog(s)) and mass or uncountable nouns (such as tobacco, cloth etc.).
prepositions discover more about this important and difficult set of words
adjectives find out here about the different sorts of adjectives and how they are used
pronouns this is a fairly simple area in English but it still needs careful analysis and attention because languages differ a lot

Web resources

You have already found a good one.
There are lots of websites intended to help people understand English words.  Many are wrong, many just lists of interesting (or otherwise) facts and some are plain confusing.  Beware sites that give lists of quirky words just for fun.  Your learners are unlikely to need them.
There are lots of people out here who enjoy playing with words and finding out useless facts about them.  Such things are not a resource teachers can use.

There are a number of vocabulary exercises and lessons for learners on this site.  Click here to go to them.