Tag Archives: Vocab

Jealousy and Envy – what do you feel?

Jealousy and envy are two feelings that are quite similar, but the words are often used incorrectly. Let’s see what’s going on:

Jealous (verb & adjective) and jealousy (noun) describe the feeling when someone is afraid to lose something to someone else. It’s always used in negative situations.

  • I’m jealous of your success, co-worker. I should have gotten that promotion!
  • He’s a jealous partner – he won’t even allow his girlfriend to use the phone unless he can listen to the conversation too.
  • Jealousy makes normal people act in strange ways, sometimes.

‘Jealously,’ used as an adverb, is possible, but very uncommon. Use ‘in a jealous manner’ instead.

  • She watched jealously as he texted a friend. She watched in a jealous manner as he texted a friend.

Envy (noun & verb), envious (adjective), and enviously (adverb) describe the feeling when a person wants something that another person possesses. It can be positive, but is usually used in negative situations.

  • I envy your success, co-worker. I will work hard so I can get the next promotion!
  • They felt envy when they saw the lottery winner.
  • She is envious of your education – she would have enjoyed going to your university.
  • The silver medal winners watched enviously as the champions received their gold medals.

Projections and Predictions

Both of these words are used when we discuss guesses about the future, but they are slightly different. Here’s how to make sense of them.

Projections look at the past and use that information to talk about the future. If you have a coffee every morning, you will probably have one tomorrow too. I know that having a morning coffee is one of your habits.

Predictions look at the present and use that information to talk about the future. If you are angry right now, you will probably be angry tomorrow too. I don’t know if being angry is your habit or not!

Projections sound more believable than predictions. Projections sound scientific, analytical, and data-driven, while predictions sound like magic, smart guesses, or uncertainty.

I predict that your English will be 10% better after reading this post.

Personal Business

It is time for a useful, though perhaps not academically-focused, post today. I am talking about the washroom.

In Canada, we don’t like to talk about the “toilet,” unless we are talking about the purchase, maintenance, or installation of one. The word sounds like an appliance, similar in use to “chair,” “table,” or “stove.”

“Washroom,” ” bathroom,” and “restroom” all talk about the space where a toilet, sink and the like are located. Restroom sounds like a public place – a boss might ask a worker to clean the restroom, for example, but it would be strange to use this word in your house. Bathroom is a better word for your house, but washroom wouldn’t be wrong in that case.

Other countries might say “WC,” which stands for “water closet.” WC is the more common expression, but we rarely see this in Canada.

As a cultural note, teachers of children will always require students to ask permission to go to the washroom. Teachers of adults may or may not require this. If the class is very large, this is less likely than if the class is small.

Common Pronunciation Mistakes

I had an interesting conversation today about some commonly mispronounced words. Here are some of the highlights:

– country. The first vowel rhymes with one, not cow.

– our. It can rhyme with either hour or are. Listen to the people near you and copy their sound.

– month. It also rhymes with one, and be careful with the ‘th’ sound. Sometimes people say it with an ‘f’ sound on the end.

– bad sounds like mad, can, and cab. Bed sounds like red, head, and dead. Bad and bed don’t rhyme with each other.

Pronunciation can be tricky, but looking for rhyming patterns can make it easier to organize the sounds you want to say. Keep on practicing your speaking!

Building your vocabulary with suffixes and adjectives

Two useful suffixes that we use with adjectives are -less and -able.

  •  -less means “without…”
  • -able means “can/be able to…” We can spell it -ible as well, but the rules for the spelling are complex. If you are not sure, check a dictionary.


  1. Care + less = careless (“without care”) John breaks everything because he is careless. He should work more carefully.
  2. Time + less = timeless (“without time, everlasting”) This style will always be popular. This style is timeless.
  3. Point + less = pointless (“without a point, without a purpose”) That class is pointless. I learned all of it last month.
  4. Pain + less = painless (“without pain or discomfort) My dentist is the best. Even fillings are painless!


  1. Move + able = moveable (“someone can move it”) The box is not too heavy. It is moveable.
  2. Do + able = doable (“someone can do it, it is possible”) That plan is doable, as long as we have enough workers. (This is a very casual word.)
  3. Recycle + able = recyclable (“someone can recycle it.”) Did you hear that new technology has made all the parts of this computer recyclable?

There are many more suffixes, but these are two of the most common.

Getting Married

This is a common verb – it seems like many people are getting married recently – but the preposition that it takes changes its meaning.

  •  Robin and Sam got married to each other = Robin and Sam are partners. Two people are now married.
  • Robin and Sam got married with each other = Robin married someone, and Sam married someone else. Four people are now married. This expression is only useful in situations when many people are married in the same ceremony, perhaps in a special religious celebration.
  • Robin and Sam got married for money = Robin and Sam may not love each other, but they love money, and they are married. Two people are married.


We can use the expression ‘married to’ to show that something is very important to someone:

  • Jane is married to her job. She works every day of the week!  = Jane loves her job, and even works on the weekend.
  • Jack is married to the Canucks. He missed his sister’s funeral because they were playing a game! = Jack loves the Canucks hockey team more than other teams, and sacrifices other activities.

(This is slightly negative; it implies that Jane or Jack should love other things more, or that they love something too much.)

Having Doubts

I hear two common problems with this word.

First of all, the “b” is silent, so don’t pronounce it! It rhymes with “out.”

Secondly, it can be both a verb and a noun. As a verb, it is regular.
Simple present: “I doubt that his story is true.”
Simple past: “She doubted her knowledge.”
Past participle: “They have doubted many things in the past.”

As a noun, it is non-count. “I have doubts about this.” Think of it like  pants – you would never say “I have a hole in my pant,” would you?

“Teacher, I have a doubt” is a common phrase, which shows an influence from a student’s first language. However, in English, it sounds awkward. Say “Teacher, I am not sure about this.” instead.

Now you have no doubts. Good luck!

Listening Skills and Podcasts

The best way to get better at listening is by… listening. Many students use movies or music to practice, but what about podcasts? They usually have natural, spoken English, and they can help with vocabulary as well. The presenters can be anywhere in the world, and that means different accents and slang.

Some of my favourites are This American Life, Stuff You Should Know, Planet Money, and Radiolab. BBC Documentaries is a great source of world news stories in more detail than you will find on TV or the radio.

Happy listening!

Talking about your business

Have you run into problems with business vocabulary? Perhaps you can’t think of the right word, or maybe you’re not sure if an expression is formal or not. I discovered these three word lists that can make your writing or interviewing easier.

 The first one is is a list of 94 business verbs. Use them in your resume or cover letter to tell an employer exactly what you did at your last job.

Second is a list of 97 business nouns. You could use them to describe job duties, transactions, or responsibilities at your last company.

The last is a list of over 200 action verbs, and it includes both business vocab and general English. These will also help you add detail to your cover letter or resume.