Vocabulary Reference

Session 1

Saying large numbers

Always begin with the largest number first. Use singular number labels:

  • One million, two hundred thousand, four hundred and sixty-four. (1,200,464)

Don’t use and to join millions and thousands or thousands and hundreds:

  • Two million, fifty-six thousand, three hundred. (2,056,300)

Use and to join hundreds and tens:

  • Fifty-six thousand, three hundred and eleven. (56,311)

Emphasise a big number by describing it as a four-figure/five-figure or six-figure number:

  • I’m not sure what he earns, but it’s certainly a six-figure number.
  • six-figure salary

We can say a number is in the tens/the hundreds/the thousands/the millions. For very big numbers a number can be (in the) tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, tens of millions etc:

  • They’ve cut hundreds of thousands of pounds from the budget.
  • Their assets alone must be worth in the tens of millions.

We can say a number is in triple figures (100-999):

  • The number of emails waiting for me after my holiday was in triple figures.

Number expressions


a millennium = a thousand years

a grand = slang for a $1,000 or £1,000

k = kilometre (a thousand metres)

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

A picture paints a thousand words.


a millionaire

to look like a million dollars

to feel like a million dollars

to be one in a million

Really big numbers

a billion (1,000,000,000)

a trillion (1,000,000,000,000)

a zillion / gazillion (used for emphasis, not real numbers)

Session 2

Linking devices of contrast

Even though I know it's incredibly risky I went out in the thunderstorm.

I know it's incredibly risky I went out in the thunderstorm.

I know it's incredibly risky I went out in the thunderstorm.

Despite not being hurt my mates were really worried.
In spite of not being hurt my mates were really worried

However is used for a contrast, can be used in different positions:

I liked it; however, I don't think I'll order it again.
I liked it; I don't think, however, I'll order it again.
I like it; I don't think I'll order it againhowever.

Used to mean no matter how or it doesn't matter how:

However long it takes I'm going to finish.
However easy it may seem you still have to do it.

Used to mean any way, used before a pronoun:

However you want to get there is fine by me, just don't be late.
She can make it however she likes, it's her recipe.

But is also used for contrast, before the clause with the contrast:

I liked it but I don't think I'll order it again.
I got there on time but the bus had already left.
It was raining all day but we still had a good time.

Used to mean if it were not for:

But for the injury he would have played in the final.
It would have been a perfect day but for the cold.

Used to mean except for:

There was no one there but family members.
I don't like any homemade cakes butyours.

Session 3

The appeal of the underdog

root for
wish to win, support

a person whose job is to cover walls with a paste to make them smoother

captured people's imagination
interested people

someone who does not attract attention

(of people) not easy to convince

internet sensation
very popular on internet sites

from rags to riches
from poverty to wealth

important event that changed a situation

person who takes a risk by buying something in the hope of selling it at a profit

self-made man
rich and successful because of his own effort

against all odds
in spite of lots of difficulties

made it big
was very successful

a fly on the wall
hearing and seeing everything that happens, but not being noticed by other people

the butt of jokes
the person that everybody laughs at

have another go
try again

Session 4

How to... disagree

Direct disagreement

  • No, I don't agree...
  • I don't accept that...
  • That's not true...

Agreeing first

  • Although you're right about that...
  • I agree with that, but...
  • I understand what you're saying, but...

Ending an argument

  • We'll have to agree to disagree...

Session 5

right as rain
(here) feeling well and healthy

gold pieces
gold coins

the very end of a finger


a small, brown bird

attracted, pleased very much

old-fashioned insult for a small person

the smallest animal born in a group, here used as an insult

slipped away
quietly escaped


laughing at someone in a nasty way

just dessert (also 'just deserts')
to get what you deserve