Unit 20: The Cult of Celebrity
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Play the fame game, learn some new vocabulary and take a look at tenses in a celebrity style, as we take a look at the past, present and future lives of some very famous people.
-ic and -ical
Some adjectives can end in either -ic or -ical, depending on their meaning. Rob and Catherine explain more about them and chat about hobbies and interests in 6 Minute Vocabulary.
Listen out for the difference between classic and classical.
Listen to the audio
Hello! I'm Catherine, and this is Rob.
Yes, hello! And welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. Today we're talking about adjectives that end in i-c, pronounced ic, and adjectives that end in i-c-a-l, pronounced ical.
First, let's listen to Hannah. She's talking about her favourite books.
Our question today is: why does Hannah get most of her books from the library? Listen carefully and find out!
I'm always reading! I like classic English novels, by writers like Jane Austen or Charles Dickens. I also like non-fiction; especially books about interesting historical characters. I love buying books, but it's so expensive! Mostly, I borrow books from the library. It's much more economical.
So, why does Hannah prefer to get her books from the library? Because it's more economical.
Hannah mentioned that she likes to read novels. Do you remember what type of novels she likes to read? Listen once again:
INSERT 1 CLIP 1
I like classic English novels, by writers like Jane Austen or Charles Dickens.
Hannah said she likes to read classic novels. The word classic ends in i-c. It's an adjective that describes something that's a particularly good example of a category – or a particularly famous example.
So, novels by Jane Austen and Charles Dickens are classic, because they're particularly good, and very famous, examples of novels. And they've been popular for a long time, so we could say they've stood the test of time.
Exactly, a bit like you Rob.
You're welcome. But be careful because people often confuse classic with another adjective: classical. Now classical, ending in i-c-a-l has a slightly different meaning – it describes a formal and often quite old style of art in forms such as painting, theatre, architecture and so on. Rob, do you like classical music?
Oh. Occasionally, but I do find it a bit heavy going.
A bit much is it?
You're more of a Beyoncé man?
Yes, that's me.
OK, so let's listen again to another clip:
INSERT 1 CLIP 2
I also like non-fiction; especially books about interesting historical characters.
Historical is another i-c-a-l adjective – and it means 'connected to stories about the past'. So Rob – name me a historical character that you particularly identify with.
That's a hard one, but I'd say Captain Cook. He liked to travel and he went round the world discovering new places, which is something I like to do.
You do, don't you.
So I can identify with him, yes. Moving on… now the i-c adjective - historic - has a slightly different meaning: it describes something important, or something that will people will remember for a long time.
So, if something really important and amazing happens today, we'll say today is a historic day. Like the day Newcastle United wins the European cup Rob!
OK, in your dreams I think.
Well maybe, but if it ever happened it would be a historic day. Now a quick pronunciation tip for you: we pronounce historic and historical with the stress on the same syllable in both words,the 'to'. And it's the same with classic and classical: in both words, the stress is on the same syllable, this time, 'cla'.
So: Historic, historical. Classic, classical.
Now listen again to one more clip:
INSERT 1 CLIP 3
Mostly, I borrow books from the library. It's much more economical.
So, we use the adjective economical – or as some people say, economical – with i-c-a-l when something is cheap, or good value for money.
But the adjective economic with i-c has a different meaning: economic means 'connected to the subject of money and finance'.
So, we might say, the bus is more economical than the train, and we would say, the country has economic problems.
You're listening to BBC Learning English dot com
And we're talking about adjectives that end in –ic and –ical.
Like economic and economical.
And now it's time for a little quiz! Listen to this, then answer question one.
Question one: was that an example of classic music, or was it classical music?
It was classical music. Not too much for you Rob?
No, it's enough, just enough.
Okay, question two: if you watch a film about the past, is it a historic film or a historical film?
It's a historical film. Last question! If you read the news about business and the financial markets, are you reading the economic news or the economical news?
And that's the economic news. And that's the end of the quiz. Well done!
Yes, well done. Finally, here's a piece of vocabulary learning advice. Learning vocabulary alone is okay, but it's often more effective to work together with a study partner. Find someone who is learning English, get together regularly, and give each other vocabulary tests!
There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again soon for more 6 Minute Vocabulary. Bye!
Did you spot the difference? Classic describes something that's a particularly good example of a category – or a particularly famous example. Classical describes a formal and often quite old style of art in forms such as painting, theatre, architecture and so on.
End of Session 1
That's all for this session. In the next session we'll take a closer look at tenses, and we'll find out if Daisy gets on TV and fulfils her dream of becoming famous.
Adjectives with -ic and -ical:
a very good, or well-known, example of a category
a well-known type of formal music
very important for a lot of people; it will be remembered for a long time
connected to stories about the past
connected to economics, the study of money and finance
cheap; good value for money