Session 1

In this unit we look at words like dessert and desert, bored and boring. Learners of English often find it difficult to choose the right one. Do you? Practise using easily confused words with us.

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Activity 1

6 Minute Vocabulary

Easily confused words

Sensible and sensitive are two words that look and sound similar but have very different meanings. They are often confused in English. Find out more about words that are easily confused in this 6 minute Vocabulary. 

 

Sagalicha dhaggeeffadhu

Barreeffama agarsiisi Barreeffama dhoksi

Catherine    
Hello and welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. I'm Catherine…

Neil
And I'm Neil.

Catherine
Neil, like your hat!

Neil
Thank you very much. It's cold outside, so I thought it would be sensible to wear a woolly hat.

Catherine
Yes.

Neil
My ears are very sensitive to the cold.

Catherine
I've noticed your ears looking a little bit red of a morning, occasionally, Neil. And the words sensible and sensitive are good examples of today's topic. The two words look and sound similar, but they have very different meanings. And in this programme we're going to talk about more pairs of words that people sometimes get mixed up.

Neil
Now let's now hear about Mike. He was in a shop yesterday when he made a mistake.

Catherine
Think about this question while you listen: What mistake did Mike make in the shop?

INSERT
Mike felt bored. He was watching a boring film about plants in the desert. 'I know – I'll make a cake', he thought. 'We'll have it for dessert'. The recipe looked easy – just a few ingredients. But when Mike checked the contents of his cupboard, there wasn't any sugar. He went to the shop and bought some. The cake looked great. But it tasted horrible. Mike checked the receipt. He'd bought salt by mistake!

Catherine
So we asked you: What mistake did Mike make in the shop?

Neil
And the answer is: He bought salt instead of sugar.

Catherine
Yes, the receipt said 'salt' but the recipe, of course, said 'sugar'.

Neil
The nouns receipt and recipe look very similar, but they have different meanings. A receipt, r – e – c – e – i – p – t, is a document that shows you have paid money for something.

Catherine
Yes, and a recipe, r – e – c – i – p – e, is a set of cooking instructions.

Neil
Listen to a clip from Mike's story. Can you spot two more confusing words?

INSERT CLIP 1
He was watching a boring film about plants in the desert. 'I know – I'll make a cake', he thought. 'We'll have it for dessert'.

Neil
So that's desert and dessert.

Catherine
Yep. Now a desert is an area of land where very little can grow and there's very little water. Desert, d – e – s – e – r – t, has one 's', but dessert, d – e – s – s – e – r – t, has two 's'. A dessert is a sweet food course that we eat at the end of a meal. Right. Moving on. Neil, what do you do when you are bored?

Neil
Well I find making cakes boring.

Catherine
Really?

Neil
Yeah. When I'm bored, I knit.  

Catherine
You knit?

Neil
Yeah.

Catherine
Of course - the hat! The woolly hat!

Neil
Yes, I knitted this woolly hat.

Catherine
It's fantastic!

Neil
Bored and boring – both adjectives, but with very different meanings.

Catherine
Bored, b – o – r – e – d, describes how someone is feeling, when they are not interested in something. Boring, b – o – r – i – n – g, describes a thing that is not very interesting. Right. Let's have another clip.

INSERT 1 CLIP 2
The recipe looked easy – just a few ingredients. But when Mike checked the contents of his cupboard, there wasn't any sugar.

Neil
The words ingredients and contents both mean things that are a part of something else. Individual ingredients are things that we put together to make something, usually food – a cake for example. Contents are all the separate items inside something like a box or a cupboard.

IDENT
6 Minute Vocabulary, from bbclearningenglish.com.

Catherine
And we're talking about confusing words.

Neil
And it's time for a quiz. Choose the correct word. Number one: I can't eat ice cream. My teeth are too… Is it a) sensible or b) sensitive?

Catherine
And it's b) sensitive.

Neil
Well done if you got that right. Number two: Very little rain falls in the…  Is it a) desert or b) dessert?

Catherine
And the answer is a) desert.

Neil
And number three: I had to wait an hour for my appointment – I got really …. Is it a) boring or b) bored?

Catherine
And the answer is b) bored.

Neil
And that's the end of the quiz – well done if you got them right.

Catherine
And it's almost the end of the programme.

Neil
But before we go, here's today's top tip for learning vocabulary: say new words out loud as you learn them - the word stress will help you to remember which is the correct word to use if you are not so sure.

Catherine
There's more about this at bbclearningenglish.com. Join us again for more 6 Minute Vocabulary.

Both
Bye.

Download

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 8 downloads page. Remember to subscribe to our podcast version!

Vocabulary points to take away

sensible
acting with good judgement

My youngest daughter is the most sensible of all my children. She's very reliable and trustworthy.

sensitive
easily upset

My husband is only 25 and he's losing his hair. He's very upset about it and is very sensitive to jokes and comments about baldness

boring
not interesting at all

Work is really boring at the moment as I'm doing the same thing every day.

bored
feeling uninterested or with nothing to do

Peter was ill all day yesterday and was in bed all day. He couldn't read or watch TV, so he got very bored.

desert
an area of land with sand and rock where very little grows and there is little rain

Camels can survive in the hot dry conditions of the desert because they don't have to drink for several days.

dessert
a sweet dish at the end of a meal

I was still hungry after the main dish, so I had ice cream for dessert.

recipe
instructions for making or preparing food

The recipe said to fry the onions first before adding the meat.

receipt
a small document, either paper or electronic, that shows you have paid money for something

The shop won't give you your money back for the dress if you don't have the receipt.

contents
all the things that are inside something else

Joanne couldn't find her house key, so she emptied the contents of her bag onto the table. There was her purse, her pen and her phone – but no key.

ingredients
individual parts that are combined to make something else, often food

To make pancakes, you only need a few ingredients – flour, milk and eggs.

Next

Time to move on! In the next two activities you'll complete a story about a man who loves desserts and test your listening skills.

Session Vocabulary

  • sensible
    acting with good judgement 

    sensitive
    easily upset

    boring
    not interesting at all

    bored
    feeling uninterested or with nothing to do

    desert
    an area of land with sand and rock where very little grows and there is little rain

    dessert
    a sweet dish at the end of a meal

    recipe
    instructions for making or preparing food

    receipt
    a small document, either paper or electronic, that shows you have paid money for something

    contents
    allthe things that are inside something else

    ingredients
    individual parts that are combined to make something else, often food