Session 1

A ring goes missing and Inspector Stone has to work out who took it. Join him as he explains some wedding vocabulary and tries to solve the mystery.

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Activity 3

6 Minute Vocabulary

Male and female job words

They might do the same job but many jobs have different titles depending on whether a man or a woman is doing it - such as policeman and policewoman or actor and actress. In 6 Minute Vocabulary Rob and Catherine talk about some other examples as well as titles that can be same for both men and women.

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Catherine
Hi! Welcome to 6 Minute Vocabulary. My name is Catherine, and I'm here with Rob.

Rob
Hello everyone. Today we're going to be talking about different words for jobs, and especially how those words change depending on whether a man or a woman is doing the job.

Catherine
Yes, and listen carefully because we're going to give you a quick quiz.

Rob
And then you'll get a tip to help with your vocabulary learning.

Catherine
Right, so let's get started! First we're going to listen to listen to Joe, talking about how he met his girlfriend, Judith.

Rob
While you listen, here's a question for you to think about: what is Judith's job now? Listen carefully!

INSERT
Joe
Well, I used to be an actor, and I met Judith at work. We were doing a play about a policeman, who falls in love with a waitress. I played the policeman, and Judith played the waitress – and sure enough, we fell in love! Later, I quit acting, and now I'm a businessman. But Judith has a successful acting career – right now, she's on a film shoot: she's playing a firefighter!

Catherine
So, the question was: what is Judith's job now?

Rob
And the answer is, Judith is an actress. Right now, she's making a film.

Catherine
The first job that Joe mentioned was actor. Now, this is one of those jobs where the word changes, depending on whether a man or a woman is doing the job. So, we say that a man is an actor, but a woman is an actress.

Rob
That's right. When Joe met Judith, she was playing a waitress. Again, we can say a man is a waiter, and a woman is a waitress.

Catherine
Yeah, so we've got actor, actress; waiter, waitress. You can hear the pattern, can't you?

Rob
I can, yes. Judith was playing a waitress in the play, but can you remember what Joe was playing? Listen again:

INSERT 1 CLIP 1
We were doing a play about a policeman, who falls in love with a waitress.

Catherine
Right, so Joe was playing a policeman, and we say that a man is a policeman, and a woman is a policewoman.

Rob
Now, Joe is a businessman because he's a man. But for a woman, we can say businesswoman.

Catherine
Yeah, so policeman, policewoman; businessman, businesswoman. Easy, isn't it?

Rob
Well maybe it's not quite so easy, because we know that Judith is making a film right now, but do you remember what sort of character she is playing? Listen again and check:

INSERT 1 CLIP 2
But Judith has a successful acting career – right now, she's on a film shoot: she's playing a firefighter!

Catherine
OK, so Judith is playing a firefighter.

Rob
But wait, hold on a minute Catherine, there's something strange about that word, firefighter.

Catherine
Yes, Indeed. A waiter is a man, and a policewoman is a woman. What about a firefighter? Man or woman? What is it?

Rob
Well, in fact, the word firefighter is the same for a man or a woman. More and more, in modern English, people prefer to use words for jobs which are the same for both sexes.

Catherine
They do. For example, some people prefer not to use the word actress. They just like to use the word actor for a man or a woman.

Rob
And instead of policeman or policewoman, we can say police officer. That's good for a man or a woman, too.

Catherine
And that's why we say firefighter. We don't say fireman, firewoman, we just use firefighter these days for everyone.

IDENT
6 Minute Vocabulary from BBC Learning English.

Catherine
And we're talking about job words that change depending on whether a man or a woman is doing the job…

Rob
…and job words that are the same for both men and women.

Catherine
Those are my preferred options, what about you Rob?

Rob
I think it's easier and less complicated, yes, to use those sort of generic words.

Catherine
Yeah, like presenter.

Rob
Like presenter. Not 'presenteress' or anything like that.

Catherine
Indeed. And some job titles that used to be different for men and women are now being replaced by a single job title for both sexes. For example on planes, in the past, we used to have stewards and stewardesses looking after the passengers. Now we just have, Rob…

Rob
Flight attendants
. And instead of a chairman or a chairwoman in charge of a formal meeting, these days we often hear the word chairperson.

Catherine
Or just chair.

Rob
OK.

Catherine
Right, so now it's time to see how much you can remember. And we've got three quiz questions for you. Number one: if the word for a man is businessman,what's the word for a woman?

Rob
And the answer is businesswoman. Second, if the word for a woman is waitress, what's the word for a man?

Catherine
Waiter! Right, and just one more question: if a man can be a policeman, and a woman can be a policewoman, what's the word that's equally good for a man or a woman?

Rob
It's police officer! Did you get all those right? Well done if you did!

Catherine
And before we go, here's a top tip to help you learn your vocabulary more effectively.

Rob
When you're out and about, walking down the street, or sitting on the bus, notice the people you see, and say the words for them to yourself in English - like waitress or police officer.

Catherine
Or presenter.

Rob
Indeed.

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

Rob
Bye!

Download

You can download 6 Minute Vocabulary from our Unit 18 downloads page (size: 5.57MB). You can also subscribe to the podcast version.

End of Session 1

That's the end of Session 1. Now you've met Inspector Stone and you can follow his investigation into the case of the missing ring in the next unit. You'll also find out more about asking subject-object questions and how to use them. See you there.

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Session Vocabulary

  • for a man - for a woman - for a man or a woman

    actor - actress - actor

    waiter - waitress - (sometimes) waiter

    policeman - policewoman - police officer

    businessman - businesswoman - (sometimes) businessperson

    chairman - chairwoman - chairperson / chair

    fireman - (sometimes) firewoman - firefighter

    presenter - presenter - presenter

    steward - stewardess - flight attendant