In these upper intermediate vocabulary lessons we cover a different theme in each class, looking at phrasal verbs, idioms and useful vocabulary related to the topic. There are questions after every lesson to help you activate the new words. There is also a list of the relevant vocabulary to help you organize and activate these expressions.
Life and Death Vocab
Clothes and Fashion Vocab 1
Clothes and Fashion Vocab 2
Houses and Property Vocab
Social Life Vocab
Books and Literature Vocab
Food and Cooking Vocab
Driving and Traffic Vocab
Travel and Tourism Vocab
Weather and Climate Vocab
Environment and Conservation Vocab
Shopping and Customer Service Vocab
Crime and Punishment Vocab
Ideas and Beliefs Vocab
War and Peace Vocab
Economics and Finance Vocab
Does anyone among your friends and family have a distinguishing mark, or feature?
How would you describe your complexion?
How would you describe your body shape?
What kind of hairstyle do you have? And what kinds have you had in the past?
Are you scruffy, or do you like to dress up?
Can you describe different members of your family?
skinny / bony
pony tail / pig tails
in a plait
in a bun
distinguishing mark / feature
The next lesson focuses on vocabulary related to the body
Do you know anyone with a limp? Why do they have this problem?
When was the last time you sprinted? Why?
Do you bear a striking resemblance to anyone? Or maybe just a passing resemblance?
What kind of things make you giggle?
Do you bite your nails? Or tap your fingers incessantly?
What action might we perform when…
..we are tired
..we are nervous
..we are furious
..we don’t know the answer
..we are shocked
..we have just woken up
..we have a cold
..we want to agree
..we hear a joke
..we see someone we love
..we don’t want to be recognized
..we want to disagree
..we have an itch
bear a striking resemblance to
disguise yourself as
cackle of laughter
The third lesson deals with personality adjectives. Please test your understanding using the questions under the lesson.
How would you describe someone who…
..loves telling you what to do?
..acts very childishly?
..is extremely rude?
..who can’t read?
..who hates lending people money?
..who has a tendency to go on and on?
..who believes every word you tell him?
..who always tells you the truth, even if it hurts?
..who never gives up?
..who doesn’t like waiting?
..who saves money by economizing?
..who keeps himself to himself?
..who doesn’t tell the truth?
Here are the adjectives
thrifty / frugal
full of yourself
blunt / curt
direct / frank
haughty / aloof
The fourth English class has lots of vocabulary connected to birth, death and marriage.
What things should you avoid if you are heavily pregnant?
What’s the best age to have children?
Were you christened as a child?
Are you married? Where did you meet your partner? How long were you engaged?
Did you or your spouse propose? How did he or she pop the question?
How many people came to your wedding? Was there a best man and bridesmaids?
When do you plan to retire?
Who will inherit your fortune?
What will you have written on your gravestone?
Here is the vocabulary
to have a baby
to give birth to twins
to have a miscarriage
to have an abortion
to deliver a baby by caesarian section
antenatal, prenatal, postnatal
to be christened / baptised
to adopt / foster a child
to be single / engaged / married / divorced
to go out with s.o
to propose (marriage)
to pop the question
they broke off their engagement
Their marriage broke down
they broke up / split up last year
bride, groom, best man, bridesmaid
to pass away
to pass on
to grieve / mourn
a grave (yard)
to send your sincere condolences
Here are two vocabulary lessons dealing with clothes and fashion. Please answer the questions after the lesson, in order to activate the vocabulary:
Do you prefer wearing baggy or tight clothes?
How do you dress? Scruff, smart, old fashioned, or trendy?
Do you usually try clothes on before you buy them?
On what occasions do you dress up?
Do you hang your clothes up, or just throw them on the floor?
Do you ever tie back your hair?
Do you roll up your sleeves on a hot day?
How old were you when you learnt to do up your shoe laces?
Here is the vocabulary
scruffy / smart, well dressed
old fashioned/ stylish, trendy
all the rage
baggy, loose / tight, skimpy
stunning, eye-catching, gorgeous
put on / take off
dress up, dress down
do up, zip up, tie up
roll up (your sleeves)
tie back (your hair)
tuck in (your shirt)
go with, match
What kind of shoes do you wear in the house?
What material is your warmest coat made of?
Do you like wearing denim? What’s the most comfortable material?
What material are your socks made of?
What kind of shirt / t shirt are you wearing? Does it have a V neck? Or a hood? Or sleeves? Is it patterned or plain?
Who wears the trousers in your relationship?
Do you ever get hot under the collar?
Here is the vocabulary:
Sleeveless, long/short sleeves
Hooded (with a hood)
Lycra (cycling shorts)
Suede (shoes, jacket)
Speak off the cuff
Wear the trousers
on a shoestring (budget)
Hot under the collar
to be in s.o else’s shoes
What kind of house do you live in? Give a complete description
Do you have any rooms at the top or bottom of your house?
Do you have a shed or garage? What is kept there?
Do you have a garden? Can you describe it?
Do you prefer blinds or curtains?
Do you prefer wallpaper or paint?
What kind of floor do you have? Do you like carpets?
Describe your bedroom: what furniture do you have?
Describe your kitchen: what furniture do you have?
What kind of domestic chores do you have to do every week?
Here is the vocabulary
Pantry / Larder
Terrace / Patio
2 reception rooms
Furniture and stuff
(draw) the curtains
(pull down) the blinds
(wipe your feet) on the doormat
(recline) on the armchair / sofa
(water) the plants
(turn on / off) the taps, central heating, radiators
(take out) the rubbish
sink / washbasin
(pull out) a drawer (chest of drawers)
(hang up) your clothes in the wardrobe
(put in / take out) a cupboard
fridge / freezer
(bake / roast) something in the oven
(boil / fry) something on the hob
How many close mates do you have?
Have you ever been to a fancy dress party?
Have you ever been to a housewarming party?
Have you ever been on a stag or hen night?
When was the last time you threw a party?
Have you ever gatecrashed a party?
Do you often pay your mates a flying visit, or do you think it’s rude to turn up uninvited?
What do you think is the perfect venue to wine and dine your beloved?
How often do you call in on your parents?
How often do you pop to the shops?
Have you ever been stood up on a date?
Have you ever been turned down for a job?
mate / pal / chum
geezer / bloke / chap
throw a surprise party
have a stag party
gatecrash a fancy dress party
a housewarming party
This calls for a celebration
to attend a formal function
a black tie event
a bash / a get together / a do
to wine and dine s.o
to book the perfect venue
to outstay your welcome
to pay s.o a (flying) visit
call in on
hang out (with), hang around (with)
knock around (with)
hook up with
get on with
fall out with
get up to
let s.o down
blow s.o out
stand s.o up
turn s.o down
turn s.o away
turn up / show up
dash off / shoot off / head off
What kind of laws would you like to see brought in?
In which areas should the government cut spending at the moment?
Do you think the government should raise or lower interest rates?
Who did you vote for in the last election? Why? Which policies attracted you to the candidate?
Have you ever voted in a referendum?
In what parts of the world would you like to see a ceasefire declared?
Are there any regimes which you believe should be overthrown? Should foreign nations intervene?
Do you think all monarchies should be abolished?
Do you feel like your leader has misled the electorate?
What kind of policies would you stand for if you were running for president?
Here is the vocabulary
bring in new laws / legislation
cut / reduce / slash the defence budget
raise (increase) taxes or interest rates
ease (loosen) or tighten monetary policy
vote for a candidate
a general election
a by election
declare independence / war / a ceasefire
seize (take) power
hostility / violence / disease / war breaks out
bring down / overthrow / topple the regime (a dictator)
abolish / restore the monarchy
enter into (launch) negotiations
broker a ceasefire / an agreement
settle a dispute
bow to pressure
issue a statement
decline to comment
clarify your position
mislead the electorate
leak a story to the press
run for president / parliament
stand for lower taxes
stand up for the poor
stand down as (minister of foreign affairs)
Objective / biased reporting
Conservative (Tory) = right wing
Labour (socialist) = left wing
Liberal Democrats = centre
UKIP = independence party
What was the last engrossing novel that you read?
Do you usually read the instruction manuals before using new devices?
Have you ever read anyone’s memoirs?
Can you think of any plots which were rather implausible or unlikely?
What kind of narrator was there in the last novel that you read? Who was the protagonist? Was there an antagonist in the plot?
Can you give me an example of…
Here is the vocabulary as a list
a riveting / engrossing novel
a poignant tale
an evocative journal
a comprehensive anthology
an instruction manual
an enigmatic account
implausible scenes (contrived)
a fast moving plot
a gripping chapter
a haunting prologue
a macabre epilogue
an intriguing setting
a heavy going explanation
a thought provoking narrative
to build up suspense
narrator (3rd person, omniscient, unreliable)
a plot / literary device (a twist, a red herring)
an irregular timeline
If you invited me for dinner, what would you cook for me, and how exactly would you cook it?
What’s your favourite recipe?
How do you like your potatoes? Boiled, fried, mashed or roast? Should they be peeled?
How do you like your eggs?
Do you like to grate cheese on top of pasta?
What kinds of herbs do you like to sprinkle on your dinner?
Do you like to dip bread in your soup?
Do you tend to eat slowly or wolf down your food in big gulps?
Boil / simmer (in the saucepan)
Fry (in the frying pan)
Bake / Roast (in the oven)
Put in / take out (the oven)
Put on/take off the hob
under the grill
Mix (the ingredients)
Stir (the sauce)
Pour (the mixture into a bowl)
Chop (the onions/carrots)
Peel (the potatoes)
Grate (the cheese)
Sprinkle (some herbs on the food)
Drain (rice in a sieve)
dip bread in your soup
fills you up
to bite off more than you can chew
burnt to a crisp
dripping with butter
beef and pork mince
Bay Leaves, dill, parsley
What’s the longest time you’ve ever been stuck in heavy traffic? How did you pass the time?
Have you ever had a head on collision, or some other accident? What happened?
When is it dangerous to overtake?
Have you ever skidded after stepping on the brakes?
Have you ever had points put on your license? Why?
Do you have a manual or automatic transmission?
Have you ever broken down, run out of petrol, or had a puncture?
What do you have in the boot of your car?
Do you know how to change a tyre?
Have you ever been pulled over by the police?
get stuck in heavy traffic
skid on a bend
step on the brakes/ accelerator
overtake the car in front
face the oncoming traffic
have a head-on collision
a hit and run
a 2 year driving ban
put points on your license
pay a fine
drink driving, take a breathalyser
exceed the speed limit
a manual car / automatic car
put it into reverse
get a flat tyre or puncture
the engine is giving off smoke
put s.t in / take s.t out of the boot
bear left / bear right
run out of petrol
fill up with petrol
slow down / speed up
get in / out a car
get on / off (all other transport)
pick s.o up / drop s.o off
run s.o over
knock s.o over
rev up your engine
cut s.o up
traffic is building up
traffic is tailing back
traffic is easing off
traffic is dying down
What kind of holiday do you prefer? Self catering, half board, full board, or all inclusive?
Do you usually buy travel insurance?
When do you start packing for your holiday? Weeks before, or at the last minute?
Do you prefer window or aisle seats on a plane?
Have you ever had to cancel a booking? Did you pay a cancellation fee?
Have you ever had a long delay? How long was it? How did you kill the time?
Have you ever declared anything at customs?
Would you like to work as a member of the air crew?
Do you have a thirst for adventure?
What’s the most arduous journey you have ever undertaken?
Here is the vocabulary
pack your suitcase
weigh your suitcase
wrap up your luggage
go to terminal 2
book a window/aisle seat
fly with a budget airline
cancel a booking
pay a cancellation fee
get a trolley for baggage
dash to the check in desk
grab your boarding pass
head for the departure lounge
a 2 hour delay
go to gate 14
declare your goods at customs
Interfere / tamper with your luggage
go to baggage reclaim
air crew / flight staff
a thirst for adventure
get itchy feet
go trekking in the wilderness
find a place ‘off the beaten track’
go sightseeing / sunbathing
go for a paddle
an arduous journey
1) Can you remember some really cold weather, like a blizzard? What happened?
2) Do you often get snow in the winter? What time of year does it start to melt?
3) Why does the body sweat? And why does it shiver?
4) What kind of climate do you have?
5) What’s the hottest temperature you have ever experienced?
6) Have you ever been in a hurricane? What happened? Were any trees blown over?
7) What’s the wettest weather you have experienced? Are there any areas near you which are in danger of floods each year?
8) Do you know anyone who has been struck by lightning?
9) Are the roads slippery at any particular time of year?
snow melts / settles
ice thaws (out)
10 degrees below zero
His teeth were chattering
an arid climate
humid (humidity) (moisture in air)
a stifling day
a stuffy room
a (thunder) storm
to be struck by lightning
hailstones / hail
a light shower (it’s spitting)
heavy rain (it’s pouring down, chucking it down)
A STRONG WIND
a breeze (a draft)
a light/cool wind
a blustering wind
gale force winds
a hurricane / tornado
The sun/rain was beating down
The clouds blot out the sun
His face clouded over
I slipped over
The pipes have frozen up
I soaked up the sunshine
The wind blew the tree over
He stormed out of the meeting
1) What’s the fiercest animal you have ever come across?
2) Which species are likely to die out soon? What’s the cause of their extinction?
3) Do you have a dog? Which breed do you have?
4) Are there any blood sports which you believe should be legal? What about hunting?
5) Can you name for me 3 different carnivores, 3 different omnivores, and 3 different herbivores?
6) Which animals are you most afraid of? Mammals, rodents, reptiles or insects?
7) Have you ever had to fish your wallet or phone out of somewhere? What happened?
8) Do you have any friends who rabbit on about any specific topics? What do they usually go on about?
9) If you were attacked by a large dog, would you chicken out and run away, or stand up to it?
10) Think of a well known predator. What does it prey on?
to breed (a breed of)
lay an egg
docile, tame / savage, fierce
domesticated / wild
feed on, prey on
die out (go extinct, endangered species)
Does your city get a lot of smog? What are the causes?
Is deforestation a problem where you live? How can we solve this?
Do you believe in anthropogenic climate change? What convinces you of this?
Where should nuclear waste be disposed?
Which areas of your country suffer from widespread flooding? Overpopulation?
If we ever run out of fossil fuels, what sort of dire consequences would this lead to (if any)?
Can you describe the geography of your region. Are you on the coast? Or in the mountains? Are there any rivers nearby?
smog (air pollution)
overconsumption (of finite resources)
extinction (of endangered species)
anthropogenic climate change
dumping of toxic (nuclear) waste
burning of fossil fuels
genetically modified food
reduce carbon emissions (footprint)
carbon dioxide (CO2)
disposal of household waste (recycling)
run out of coal, gas, oil
alternative (renewable) energy sources
tide comes in / goes out (high/low tide)
cove / bay / gulf
valley / ravine / gorge
peak / summit
When you order online, is delivery usually prompt?
Which service or shop has the most obliging staff, in your opinion?
Where have you experienced the most impeccable service?
Have you ever complained about a service? Why did you kick up a fuss?
Which places have the most incompetent staff?
Have you ever had a refund? Why?
When was the last time you splashed out on something? What was it?
When was the last time you had to fork out on something? What was it?
responsive to complaints
ready and willing to help
take complaints seriously
2 year warranty / guarantee
a full refund
meet health and safety requirements
a sterile (impersonal) atmosphere
shoddy work, products, services
uncooperative shop assistants
to be ripped / torn
to be scratched
something is missing
didn’t respond to my query
get back to s.o
put s.o through
put s.o on hold
kick up a fuss (moan, groan, grumble, whinge, whine)
fork out on
splash out on
stock up on
rip s.o off
mug s.o off
Do you know anyone who was convicted of an offence? Was it a minor one? Did he go to court? What was the punishment?
Have you ever broken the law? What did you do?
What kind of punishment is appropriate for juvenile crimes? Do you think the police should come down more heavily on any forms of juvenile crime?
Have you ever been to court?
Which crimes are common where you live? What do you think would be appropriate punishments?
What criticisms would you make of the legal system in your country?
commit a minor offence
break the law
petty / juvenile crime
search s.o / the premises / a vehicle
go to court
to remand in custody
to make a plea (to plead guilty)
witness, judge, jury, prosecution, defence
prove beyond reasonable doubt
trumped up charges
to award damages to
a miscarriage of justice
mitigating (extenuating) circumstances
on the spot fine
2 year sentence
not fit to stand trial
clamp down on
turn s.o in (inform on, grass s.o up)
to bring s.o to justice
Do you believe in an afterlife? What kind of evidence adds credence to this idea?
What are the main tenets of liberal democracy?
Do you adhere to any well known religions or philosophies? Which ones?
Do you tend to defer to the experts opinion?
Are there any widespread beliefs which you find implausible? On which erroneous assumptions are they based?
Are you prejudiced? Which groups do you discriminate against?
to adhere to (an adherent of)
to believe in
to assume (make an assumption)
to convert to
fanatics / radicals
postulates / tenets
give/lend/add credence to
give s.o the benefit of the doubt
to discriminate against
to put (get) across
to put forward an idea
to talk s.o round / into / out of
to weigh s.t up
to point out
to take in
to run ideas by s.o
to side with / against
to come out in favour of
to come out against
to stand for / against
to stand up for / up against
to stick by
to cheer on
to egg on
to defer to the experts
to cave in to demands / public opinion
Do you think there is a likely chance of nuclear annihilation in the future?
Can you think of any famous sieges?
In which conflicts do you think peacekeeping forces should be deployed and intervene?
Do you think that a ceasefire will soon be declared in any ongoing conflicts?
In which parts of the world have hostilities escalated?
Can you think of any famous battles or conflicts? How many casualties were there? Who surrendered in the end? Was any territory invaded?
Has your country ever had a civil war?
Has there ever been a military coup in your country?
Would you like to see your troops deployed to any parts of the globe? Or would you like to see them withdrawn from any areas?
make an alliance with
make a pact with
make a truce
sign a peace treaty
sign an armistice
declare/maintain a ceasefire
violence (hostilities, war) erupts, escalates, breaks out
to go on the offensive
to launch a counterattack, surgical strikes, a pre-emptive strike
to be under siege
to lay siege to
a military coup, uprising, rebellion
to (an) ambush
to shell front line positions
collateral damage (slaughtered civilians)
to be caught in the crossfire
to capture enemy troops
to defeat the rebels
to retreat, withdraw, pull back from, pull out of
to surrender to the opponent
to invade a foreign power
to evacuate the wounded, civilians, refugees
to annex (a disputed territory)
to stockpile weapons
to deploy heavy artillery, troops
to suffer (sustain) heavy casualties
armoured personnel carrier
Would you like to see house prices skyrocket or plummet?
Should we bail out the banks during a crisis?
Do you think interest rates will be raised or lowered?
Do you think your country should donate more in international aid, or less?
What can we do to alleviate poverty in developing countries? Should we cancel (write off) their debts?
When do you think the sanctions against Russia will be lifted?
What fiscal measures would you like to see brought in?
What do you think will happen in the future? Will the country go into recession, or enter a boom period?
Do you think the single currency is good for Europe?
Does your country have rampant inflation at the moment? What measures can be taken to curb it?
Where should the government levy new taxes?
Here is the vocabulary
House prices drop, fall, plummet, collapse, slump
Interest rates rise, increase, skyrocket
The value of the currency
Cancel (wipe out) a (crippling) debt
Pay off (settle) (mounting) debts
Incur (run up) (substantial) debts
alleviate (ease) debts
raise or lower the interest rate
lift or impose sanctions and embargoes
go into or come out of a (severe) recession
Bring in fiscal measures…
..to boost economic growth
..to curb (rampant) inflation
..to prevent deflation
..impose (levy) taxes
..allocate funds or resources
impose austerity measures
fork out on
splash out on
set s.o back
So, how do you learn by heart such a long list of new words? I’m afraid the only way to do this is to activate the vocabulary by using it as often as you can. Of course, it is also useful to pick up these words passively when you watch TV shows. So please check out my ebooks on the following page, which will help you focus on some of the interesting vocab. And please add me on skype if you fancy taking online lessons to improve your English.
Phrasal verb vocabulary
If you are looking for my phrasal verb vocabulary lessons, try the following playlist, which comes with pictures to help you memorize the words in context.
I have loads of quizzes on phrasal verbs, so please try them all!
PHRASAL VERBS WITH ON
PHRASAL VERBS WITH OFF
PHRASAL VERBS WITH DOWN 1
PHRASAL VERBS WITH DOWN 2
PHRASAL VERBS WITH UP 1
PHRASAL VERBS WITH UP 2
PHRASAL VERBS WITH RUN
PHRASAL VERBS WITH GET
PHRASAL VERBS WITH COME
PHRASAL VERBS WITH GIVE
PHRASAL VERBS WITH PUT
PHRASAL VERBS WITH TAKE
Click on my phrasal verbs page for more information
And I have a number of idioms lessons, which can also help you learn new vocabulary. Here are my classes on idioms
Confusing words vocabulary
I have made a playlist which looks at the differences between verbs of looking (LOOK, SEE and WATCH); verbs of talking (SAY, TELL, SPEAK, TALK); as and like; so and such; used to, be used to, get used to; and lots of linking words.
You can find more information on words with similar meaning here
And if you are still hungry for more vocabulary, please try the following links