Vocabulary Reference

Session 1

Simple spelling rules

When words have a letter g in them that is pronounced softly as /dʒ/, the word is always spelt with an after the g.

advantageous, ageing, changeable, encouragement, marriageable

There is a spelling rule that says i before except after c, for example achieve, perceive. It’s a good rule but there are spelt ei after other letters.

foreign, height, leisure, neighbour, weird

In British English, with verbs that end in a vowel before l or r, we double the final consonants when we make them into past or continuous forms.

travel – travelled, travelling.

prefer – preferred, preferring.

There is only one l at the end of adjectives ending in -ful.

grateful, hopeful, skilful

Words that begin with an s, may have a silent c after the s.

scenery, science, scissors

The verb practise, is spelt -ise in British English. The noun is spelt -ice.

There are a lot of words that end in -ence or -ance, but they are pronounced exactly the same. There is no rule for learning these.

experience, sequence,  acceptance, balance

Words ending in /ʤ/

There are no English words that end in the letter j. If a word has this sound at the end the spelling will be ge.

rage, cage, huge, wedge

If the word contains a short vowel sound, the ge usually has a silent in front.

hedge, bridge, wedge

Words ending in /v/

There are no English words that end in the letter v (except some acronyms, abbreviations or names). There will usually be an after the v.

gave, save, have, shove

C or K

If the sound /k/ is followed by the vowel sounds /æ//ɒ/ or /ʌ/, the spelling of the /k/ sound will be c.

cat, cot, cut.

If /k/ is followed by /i/ or /e/, then the spelling of the /k/ sound will be k.

kiss, kept

Words ending in the sound /k/ are spelt -ke if the sound before the /k/ is a long vowel sound.

cake, joke, strike

If the vowel sound is short and immediately before the /k/ sound the spelling will be ck.

sick, track, lock, luck

(Note the word trek is an exception to this rule)

If the word has more than one syllable and the last sound is /k/, the spelling will be c

panic, picnic, traffic

(Note the word attack is an exception to this rule)

When making a gerund or present participle of words that end in c, add before adding ing.

panicking, picnicking, trafficking

In the middle of a word if there is a /k/ sound, the spelling will be c after a vowel sound and after a consonant sound.

locate, correct, dictation
basket, blanket, ankle


These are words that have the same pronunciation but different spelling and meanings. There are many of these in English, for example:

allowed / aloud

break / brake

cell / sell

hear / here

its / it's

no / know

right / write

sea / see

steel / steal

their / there / they're

weight / wait

which / witch

whole / hole

Session 2

Some multi-word verbs

to mess around
to behave badly

to break down
to stop working

to splash out on something
to spend a lot of money on something

to call someone back
to telephone someone again

to give in
to agree to do something after a long time without agreement

to go on about something
to talk about a particular subject repeatedly

to show someone up
to embarrass someone by pointing out things they are not good at or are doing wrong

to show up
to arrive at a place or event

Take off multi-word verbs

to take someone off
to impersonate, mimic, copy the way someone speaks

to take off
to leave the ground

to take something off
to remove an item of clothing

to take off
to become successful and popular

to take someone off
to substitute a player

to take off
to leave suddenly

to take a period of time off
to not go to work for a period of time

Session 3

catch up with someone
(here) find out that somebody is doing something wrong and punish them

pull something off
do something successfully even though it is very difficult

end up
finally be in a particular situation

back up
use something as evidence or proof that something else is true

tip off
secretly give information to someone

wise up to something
become more aware of something unpleasant

set up
create or start something, such as a system, process or organisation 

man-made objects which are of historical interest

reason for doing something

tried his hand at
attempted to do (something) for the first time

cottage industry
manufacturing business that someone runs from their own home

family heirlooms
valuable objects which are passed down through generations of the same family

gift of the gab
ability to speak with confidence

sale of items to whoever offers to pay the most

ancient Egyptian king

trick or cheat (someone)

raised sculptures on flat surfaces

writing that is used in some ancient Asian countries

strong ability

the Old Bill
the police (British slang)


anger because you have to accept something you don't like

suspended sentence
a punishment for a crime, which is delayed on condition that the person who is being punished does not commit any more crimes

Session 4

to check in
arrive and officially register at a hotel

to end up
to be somewhere as your final destination

to get away
to go somewhere for a rest or on holiday

to get around
to travel to lots of places

to check (something) out
to examine something

to take (something) in
to observe and understand something

to work (something) out
to learn and understand how to do something

to ask around
to ask a number of people

to hold on
to wait

to dress up
to put on clothes for a special occasion

to shop around
to compare prices and quality of goods at a number of different shops before deciding what to buy

Session Grammar

  • Multi-word verbs / Phrasal verbs type 1, 2, 3 & 4