Collocations and Verb Phrases

How can you understand collocations and verb phrases in English? Why do you make the bed, but do the dishes? This confuses many English language students. It is very important for learners to understand common collocations and verb phrases. Everyday English is made up of thousands of these, many of which native speakers may not even realize they are using.

For example: Why do English speakers eat fast food, but not quick food? This is common collocation in English. Fast and food are just always used together or collocate.

Are there rules to know when to use certain words together? Not really! That’s the interesting thing about English! Collocations and verb phrases can vary, as well. You may find them to be different in different areas. Think about how in the United States you grab some take out food, but in Britain, it’s take away food.

To properly understand collocations and verb phrases, a learner simply needs to learn them as a whole unit, like a vocabulary word. This can be done by memorization, but as I suggest, learning by listening and then using helps your brain get used to what “sounds right”. By exposure to the use of them in naturally occurring conversation, music, movies, T.V, and even in literature, you can learn them the way a native speaker learns even the trickiest collocations and verb phrases.

Idioms are closely related to collocations and verb phrases. Idioms differ because they are sayings, or made up of a longer phrase of words. Collocations and verb phrases, although occasionally longer, are usually just two words. The individual words may or may not contribute to the actual meaning. In general, collocations and verb phrases are easier to figure out than idioms based on their individual words.

So take a break, and watch the YouTube blog video I’ve made on this subject!

Click here!

Word Roots, Suffixes and Prefixes

How can a better knowledge of word roots, suffixes and prefixes help you make progress in your English? Well, understanding these helps you understand difficult or long words better. A word root is the basic foundation of a word. It may or may not be a word on its own. Prefixes are added to the front of a word, and suffixes are added to the end of a word. Click to watch the YouTube blog video below to learn more!

Word Roots Video

Want to learn more about these building blocks of words? Check out this website link from Learn that Word. (Click here) for word roots and prefixes and this one also from Learn that Word (Click here) of suffixes. This website is a comprehensive dictionary of all these word pieces. By learning what the word roots, prefixes and suffixes mean in a word, you can more easily break down a difficult word and make sense of it.

Try it: Can you identify the word roots, prefixes and/or suffixes in these words:

  1. Interrupt
  2. Brilliant
  3. Countable
  4. Unbelievable
  5. Prepackaged
  6. Musician
  7. Spectator
  8. Zoology
  9. Sectarianism
  10. Digestion

 

 

 

 

How French Influenced English: A Short History

In this video blog post, I explain how and why French influenced the English language. To understand this, we take a trip back in time to the days of the Vikings and William I. Check out my video, click on the image below:

Battle of Hastings Normans

or this link: https://youtu.be/0BWpp0mcSF0

Have you ever noticed that certain words in English, while they may mean the same thing, sound fancier or more formal? Why is an animal a “cow” or “bull” in the farmyard, but “beef” cooked and on the table? Think about the following word synonym pairs:

Bring/Carry

Hearty/Cordial

Wonder/Ponder

Weird/Strange

Wild/Savage

Kingship/Monarchy

Can you tell that the first word is Anglo-Saxon (English) based, while the second is French based? Now you know why fancier or more formal sounding words have French roots, and more common, plain or everyday words are Anglo-Saxon based. It’s all about the rich history of the English language. (Note: Rolo should be Rollo. Sorry for the error in editing!)

 

Portmanteau Words

What are portmanteau words? A portmanteau is a word from French that means a large leather suitcase with two large compartments. But how can a suitcase relate to words? Why don’t you find out! (Click on the link below to watch the video)

Portmanteau Video on YouTube

Some examples (including the ones from the video and some additional ones too) of portmanteau words and definitions:

biopic- a biographic movie (biography/picture)
dramedy- a movie that is both comedic and dramatic (drama/comedy)
mockumentary- a satirical movie that is filmed in the way a documentary film would be made (mock/documentary)
newscast- a radio or television program that reports the news (news/broadcast)
soundscape- a melange of musical and sometimes non-musical sounds (sound/landscape)
brunch- a meal that combines breakfast and lunch and that is usually eaten in late morning (breakfast/lunch)
brainiac- a very intelligent person (brain/maniac)
blog- a website on which someone writes about personal opinions, activities, and experiences (web/log)
bodacious- very good or impressive (bold/audacious)
meld- blend or mix (melt/weld)
bit- a unit of computer information equivalent to the result of a choice between two alternatives(binary/digit)

Can you think of any others? (Look at the picture for a hint)

spork

Each word makes up half of the whole new word, just like the two compartments of a portmanteau fold up to make one suitcase.

portmanteau

Vocabulary Course Release & Special Discount

I am excited to announce that my new course is finally live on the UDEMY website! My special new course is vocabulary-centered.  It features 100 important vocabulary words that every English speaker should know, whether you have been speaking English all of your life or are an English second language learner.  Besides just presenting and teaching 100 words, this course also features live video lectures on learning vocabulary intuitively, word structure and word patterns. The course curriculum has downloadable materials, online resources, and interactive quizzes. So in reality, this course doesn’t just teach you 100 words, it teaches you how to keep learning new words.

In designing and producing this course, my intention was to make it affordable and accessible (one of the reasons I like using UDEMY).  The regular price of the course is $29, however I am pleased to announce a special discount for my Aaron’s English Page fans.  Use this link: https://www.udemy.com/word-knowledge-100/?couponCode=halfprice to get the course at LESS THAN HALF PRICE for $14.  Share this code with your friends, but keep in mind that the quantity is limited and it is only available for a limited time.

vocab power 100
Vocabulary Power 100

One of the reasons I decided to make this course was because I noticed a need for quality instruction that did not focus on boring memorization of vocabulary words.  It is very difficulty to improve your English, or any language, that way.  In order to actually be able to make new words a part of your speaking and writing, they must be part of an internal word bank in your brain that can be accessed quickly, without thinking too hard about it.  In my teaching of English, I use an intuitive methodology.  That really just means learning by using.  I have found this is the easiest, quickest and all around most effective way of speaking fluently, learning grammar and usage or vocabulary (even if it is for a language you have been speaking all of your life).  Because everyone is has their own unique learning style, a multi-approached method of presenting new information targets different areas of learning to make a mental connection.

Try this:  The next time you learn a new word, try an intuitive method.  Here are few ideas:

  • Listen to or read a word in its natural setting– examine the context.
  • Write the new word down, and make a sentence using it correctly.
  • Say the new word– focus on correct pronunciation and then use it in conversation.
  • Find a picture or an object that illustrates the word.
  • Make a mental note every time you hear, see or use the new word.

The Word of the Year

I am a fan of Merriam-Webster’s YouTube videos.  I really like the way they are presented.    I wanted to share their latest video with my blog readers.  Every year they come up with a ‘word of the year’.  This video explains how that process works, as well as the significance of the word they choose.  This topic goes right along with my recent project, vocabulary.  I am pleased to say that my new vocabulary course is in the final stages of production and should be available to the public very soon.  I will be offering a special discount code for the course on my blog.

Contronyms

English is a confusing language.

  • We bolt the door after shutting it to make sure it stays closed, but a horse gets scared and bolts away.
  • We turn a light off, but an alarm clock goes off to wake us up.
  • When the stars come out we see them, but when the lights go out, we don’t see anything.

This paradox in meanings is called a contronym. Check out the latest blog video about contronyms (or antagonyms).

Coming Soon:  We are still working hard on our vocabulary course project here at Aaron’s English Page.  We plan to have our course up and running on UDEMY by next week, if all goes well. (We already have a TOEIC Prep course on that website, see the link in the sidebar) We will be offering a special discount code for Aaron’s English Page blog readers.