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How to make plurals

All uncountable nouns have different forms for the plural. For most nouns we add s to make the plural.

I am wearing a pair of spectacles

Ant : ants
apple : apples
aim : aims
boy : boys
bin : bins
border : borders
building : buildings
ball : balls
cat : cats
comb : combs
cashier : cashiers
coat : coats
call : calls

donkey : donkeys
doll : dolls
dancer : dancers
dial : dials
door : doors
egg : eggs
ear : ears
errand : errands
elephant : elephants

For words ending in s, sh, ch and x we add es to make the plural.

Bus : buses
wish : wishes
church : churches
fox : foxes
bitch : bitches
box : boxes
cross : crosses
punch : punches

For nouns ending in ay, ey, oy and uy we add s to make the plural.

day : days
key : keys
boy : boys
guy : guys

For words ending in by, dy, fy and gy we add ies after dropping the y.

baby : babies
lady : ladies
lorry : lorries
piggy : piggies

He always wears a black pair of trousers

Common irregular plurals

mouse : mice
foot : feet
tooth : teeth
man : men
woman : women
child : children
penny : pence
person : people
potato : potatoes
tomato : tomatoes
half : halves

knife : knives
leaf : leaves
life : lives
loaf : loaves
self : selves
shelf : shelves
thief : thieves
wife : wives
sheep : sheep
deer : deer
fish : fish

Words for groups of people can have singular or plural verbs.

Our team is playing well.
Our team are playing well.
My family wants me to study law.
My family want me to study medicine.

There is a difference between a country and a cricket team.

Sri Lanka has got a dynamic President.
Sri Lanka have won the Word Cup.
The word police is always plural.
The police are looking for the first suspect in the murder case.

Some nouns are always plural.
He always wears a black pair of trousers.
She is wearing a pair of blue jeans.
The boy is wearing a pair of shorts.
Father is wearing a pair of pyjamas.
I am wearing a pair of spectacles.
Bring me a pair of scissors.


Match words and meanings

Heres an exciting way to enrich your vocabulary. Match the words in Column A with their meanings in Column B and check your answers with the key. The first has been done for you.

[Column A]

K 1. deploy
... 2. depopulate
... 3. deport
... 4. deportment
... 5. depose
... 6. deposit
... 7. deposition
... 8. depository
... 9. depot
... 10. depraved

... 11. depreciate
... 12. depredation
... 13. depress
... 14. depressed
... 15. deprive
... 16. deputation
... 17. depute
... 18. deranged
... 19. dereliction
... 20. deride

... 21. derive
... 22. dermatologist
... 23. derogatory
... 24. desalinate
... 25. descend

[Column B]

A. to force someone to leave a country
B. completely unable to think clearly
C. failure to do what you should do
D. to take something away from someone
E. morally bad or evil
F. the way a person walks and stands
G. to cause someone feel unhappy

H. a formal written statement
I. to laugh at someone
J. to get something from something else
K. to use someone in an effective way
L. a doctor who treats skin diseases
M. an act causing damage
N. showing strong disapproval
O. to remove salt from sea water

P. a building where buses are kept
Q. to leave something somewhere
R. a group of people sent to speak for others
S. to go or come down
T. to ask someone to act for you
U. to remove someone from a powerful position
V. a large building for storing things
W. unhappy
X. to lose value
Y. to cause a country to have fewer people

Key:

2. Y 3. A 4. F 5. U 6. Q 7. H 8. V 9. P 10. E 11. X 12. M 13. G 14. W 15. D 16. R 17. T 18. B 19. C 20. I 21. J 22. L 23. N 24. O 25. S


How to use adjectives

An adjective is a word that describes a noun or pronoun.
We sat under the shade of a big tree.
It was a boring lecture.

The boys are singing and dancing on the upper floor.


She was dressed in a purple sari.
You cannot expect quick promotions.
It was a warm evening.
The food was delicious.
We had dinner at a quiet restaurant.

There are two places where we can use an adjective. It can be used before a noun or after a linking verb.

Before a noun
Rex has bought a new car.
I'd like to have a cup of good coffee.
We were welcomed by a pretty girl.
They live in a big house.
The boys were swimming in a shallow river.
After a linking verb.
Rex's car is new.

When we reached the theatre it was getting dark.
This coffee tastes good.
He appeared to be an innocent man.
The man was deaf.
We feel warm here.
The dog looked ferocious.
These flowers smell sweet.
We can use two or more adjectives together.
We had lunch at a quiet little restaurant.
A dirty old man was waiting at the gate.
Certain adjectives can only be used before a noun.

I helped the woman to cross the main road.
The only problem is that I don't have enough money for the trip.
Cricket is an outdoor game.
The former cricketer now trains players.
I was the chief organiser of the music festival.

Her elder sister taught me English.
His eldest son is an engineer.
We were ushered into an inner room of the mansion.

Do you enjoy outdoor activities?
Remove the outer layer before eating the fruit.
The boys are singing and dancing on the upper floor.
Some adjectives usually go after a linking verb.
Grandfather is still asleep.

The two sisters look alike.
I'm delighted to meet you.
Zanita looked ill.
We were afraid to go in.
She sat alone thinking of her future.
You should be ashamed to insult a beggar.

He kept awake till morning.
The old man is still alive to help his grandchildren.
I'm content with what I have.
I'm glad to meet you.
She's unwell for some time.

[Activity]

Choose an adjective from the list below and fill in the blanks. Check your answers with the key.

loud, sharp, tidy, white, heavy, savage, juicy, leather, deep, beautiful

1. The girl was playing with a ........... doll.
2. Bring me a .......... knife to cut vegetables.
3. We were awakened by a ........... noise.
4. A ........... dog bit him on the leg.
5. The lorry carried a ............ load.

6. I ate a .............. mango.
7. He wears a ........... belt.
8. She lives in a ............ room.
9. We covered ourselves with a .......... sheet.
10. The boy fell and there was a ................ cut on his chin.

Key:

1. beautiful 2. sharp 3. loud 4. savage 5. heavy 6. juicy 7. leather 8. tidy 9. white 10. deep


An idiom is a special kind of phrase. It is a group of words which have a different meaning when used together from the one it would have if the meaning of each word were taken individually. Tick the meaning of the following idioms in bold and check your answers with the key.

1. If you lose your cool...

(a) you get angry
(b) you feel happy
(c) you feel warm

2. If you blot your copybook ...

(a) you lose a large sum of money
(b) you become popular
(c) you damage your reputation

3. If someone cuts the umbilical cord ...

(a) they start acting erratically
(b) they start acting independently
(c) they start acting foolishly

4. If someone is shocked to the core ...

(a) they are shocked very much
(b) they are not shocked at all
(c) they do no feel the shock

5. If someone earns their corn ...

(a) they are successful
(b) they are failures
(c) they are wasting their earnings

6. If you fight your corner ...

(a) you want to finish the job early
(b) you do not state your opinion openly
(c) you state your opinion openly

7. If you are in a tight corner ...

(a) you feel very insecure
(b) you feel very comfortable
(c) you are in a situation which is difficult to deal with

8. If someone is in your corner ...

(a) they are obstructing you
(b) they are protecting you
(c) they are trying to oust you

9. If something is just around the corner ...

(a) it is about to happen
(b) it is unlikely to happen
(c) it will never happen

10. If someone boxes you into a corner ...

(a) they will destroy all your plans
(b) they will support you in a difficult situation
(c) they force you into a difficult situation

Key:

1. (a) 2. (c) 3. (b) 4. (a) 5. (a) 6. (c) 7. (c) 8. (b) 9. (a) 10. (c)

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