Tag Archives: vocabulary

React reply respond and return

React, reply, respond and return.


This post looks at four words that often confuse learners; react, reply, respond and return. They can be confusing because some of them can be used interchangeably although they have their own separate meaning and are not quite synonyms.



  1. To say something, do something or feel something because of something someone has said or done

Our manager didn’t react when we all said we were unhappy with his management style.

She reacted with a smile.


  1. To become ill because you had eaten something bad or done something to your body in some way.

I think that fish we had for dinner has reacted with me. I feel really sick.

My skin reacts badly to make-up.


3. In science, a substance reacts with another substance.

The hydrogen reacted with the oxygen to form water.



To answer.

Have you replied to the manager’s email?

I knocked on the door but there was no reply.

‘I don’t know,’ he replied.


The noun form of reply is ‘a reply’.

Have you had any replies?



  1. To say or do something as an answer or reaction to something that someone has done or said.

The police responded to the call within ten minutes.

I tried calling your mobile five times today but you didn’t respond. Are you ignoring me?

The school asked parents to help with Sports’ Day. Unfortunately, only a few parents responded.

He responded very badly to the news.

Her manager would not respond when she asked him for extra holiday.


  1. To improve after medical treatment.

We were really worried about her at first, but she is starting to respond to treatment. She should be much better in a few days.


The noun form of respond is a response.

I have left five messages on your phone today but I haven’t had a single response. Are you ignoring me?

We called the police and their response was very quick. They arrived within ten minutes.

When she asked her manager for extra holiday, he would not give her a response.

We asked for help building a new children’s playground and we got a huge response. We had over one hundred and fifty replies from parents.



  1. Go back.

They like to return to the same hotel every year.

I need to return to the office because I left my purse on my desk. I’ll need it to pay for the tickets.

He returned home after midnight.


  1. Send or give something back.

Library books must be returned within three weeks.

My neighbour still hasn’t returned my DVD’s. He borrowed them six months ago!


  1. React to something someone does or says by doing the same thing.

Good morning, could I speak to Phil please. It’s Sarah, from the sales department, returning his call.

He called her name and smiled at her. She looked up and, pleased to see him, she returned his smile.

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English adjectives learn English grammar

English adjectives

This blog post looks at the different types and order of English adjectives. In English we usually write adjectives before the noun.  However, sometimes, for example, in literary writings, we can put them after the noun.  We can also put adjectives after a verb. Sometimes they can be two words together, for example: well-known.  These are known as compound adjectives. 

Adjectives before the noun:

The happy, smiling man danced with his new wife.

Commas ( , ) are put between the adjectives but not before the noun.

Adjectives after the noun:

The man, happy and smiling, danced with his new wife.

The adjectives are separated with ‘and’ and commas are put before and after the adjectives.  If you take out the adjectives, the sentence is still grammatically correct.

The two sentences say the same thing but have a different effect. 

Adjectives after a verb:

The man was happy and smiling.


Adjectives are put in to a word order, for example:

The large, blue, Chinese vase was the most beautiful I had ever bought.


The Chinese, blue, large vase …. OR The blue, Chinese, large vase etc.

It can be confusing for learners.  Here is a table to show the order of adjectives:


Relates to






Lovely, friendly, ugly, unusual








Big, tiny, medium




Physical quality



Dirty, clean, smooth







Round, curvy, square







Youthful, old, young







Blue, pink, orange







Dutch, French, Russian







Metallic, wood, plastic







Four-sided, U-shaped







Cooking, writing


For my birthday I got a beautiful, small, old, blue and white Chinese, ceramic cooking pot.

Compound adjectives

These are adjectives that contain two or more words.  They are joined together with a hyphen (-). Here are some examples of the most commonly used compound adjectives.



Describes somewhere with a lot of light.

We live on a very brightly-lit street.  I find it difficult to get to sleep at night.


Describes an area that has a high population (a lot of people living there)

Parking is always a problem in densely-populated areas of the city.


Describes someone who is very kind.

My kind-hearted boss gave 50% of his salary to charity last year.


Describes something that was planned just before it was done.

We booked a last-minute holiday to Spain last month.  We booked it on Friday and flew to Barcelona on the Sunday!


Usually describes someone who is around forty to sixty years old.

Police are looking for a tall, middle-aged man with red hair and a beard.


Describes someone who is not open to new ideas and opinions.

The manager’s narrow-minded ideas made everyone in the office unhappy.


Describes something that is not modern

He always wore old-fashioned clothes.


Describes someone who is really wants to do something or behave in a particular way, even if it is not a good idea.

He was also a strong-willed child.  He never listened to anyone.


Describes someone, usually children or animals, who behaves in a way that people think is good or correct.

I taught an extremely well-behaved class today.  The children were all very quiet and polite.

If the adjective comes after the noun, we do not need a hyphen.


It was a well-behaved class.

The class was well behaved.


He is a well-known actor.

He is well known.


Compound adjectives with numbers



There was a five-second delay.



We had a fifteen-minute wait before they opened the doors.



There was a four-hour delay between flights yesterday.



We had a two-day stopover in Bangkok when we went to Australia last year.



My boss took a three-week holiday to go and climb Mount Everest.



I had a six-month contract working for Siemens in Germany.



My five-year-old son has just started school.



They live in a twenty-storey building.


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Adjectives ending in ed and ing




The Language of Love vocabulary

The Language of Love


This post looks at the language of love and friendship.  You can learn vocabulary that helps you talk about relationships. There is a short quiz at the end.

Maria’s story

Maria started a new job ten years ago.  She met lots of new people working there.  Some of her co-workers were just casual acquaintances.  However, in the first six months, she made some good friends.  She became especially close friends with one or two.  In December last year, Tom started working with Maria and they struck up a friendship.  They had a lot of mutual friends.  For Tom and Maria it was love at first sight.  They fell madly in love.  Their relationship developed and they decided to make a commitment to one another.  Tom proposed to Maria.  Maria accepted his proposal

As their relationship grew they got married and promised to never have an affair; they would always be faithful to one another.  After a while they both left the company and moved away.  However, they still kept in touch with their friends from their old company.  Ten years later, Tom and Maria are still very happy and they say they will never split up.


Casual acquaintance


Someone you know a little I don’t really know Jo. She’s just a casual acquaintance.
Make friends


Become friends with someone Sam always found it easy to make friends.
Close friends


A very good friend We’ve been close friends for years.
Strike up a friendship


Begin being friends with someone I’ve struck up a friendship with my neighbour.
Mutual friends
Friends you and someone else both have My husband and I met through a mutual friend.
Love at first sight


To feel love when you first meet someone Do you believe in love at first sight?
Fall in love


To develop feelings of love We fell in love during our holiday in Spain.
A relationship grows/develops


A working or emotional relationship We need to develop a good relationship with our staff.
Make a commitment


Promise to do something We made a commitment to each other
To propose to someone


To ask someone to marry you She proposed to me on my birthday.
Accept a proposal


To say yes when someone asks to marry you He accepted my proposal


A sexual relationship outside of marriage He had many affairs whilst married.
Not have a sexual relationship with someone else They were both faithful during forty years of marriage.
Keep in touch/contact with someone


To continue to communicate with someone I haven’t kept in touch with any of my old school friends.
Split up


End a relationship He was broken-hearted when he split up from his wife.


The Language of Love quiz


  1. She is not really a close friend. She is a casual ______.


  1. When Sam and Joe first met, they hated each other. It certainly wasn’t _____ __ ____ _____ for them but they’ve been married twenty years now.


  1. He is really shy. He finds it very difficult to ____ new friends.


  1. When we got married, we promised we would always be ______.


  1. I still _____ __ ____ with some of my old colleagues. We message each other regularly and we meet once a year for lunch.


  1. I am so sorry to hear that you and Tom have _____ __. How are you feeling?  If you need to talk, give me a call.


  1. Mark met his girlfriend Lucy through a ______ friend. Someone Mark works with was at the same university as Lucy.


  1. He _____ to Lucy on her birthday and she _______ his proposal.


The Language of Love quiz answers:
  1. acquaintance
  2. love at first sight
  3. make
  4. faithful
  5. keep in touch
  6. split up
  7. mutual
  8. proposed, accepted

Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash


Photo by Mayur Gala on Unsplash

Adjectives ending in ed and ing

Adjectives ending in ed and ing

This post looks at adjectives ending in  ed or ing.  For example, look at the following sentences.  Can you see the difference between the two sentences?  They both contain an adjective from the verb ‘confuse’ but the endings are different.


English learners are often confused by adjectives. 

English learners often think that adjectives are confusing. 


Confused and confusing are both adjectives.  However, they are used in different situations.  This post explains when to use ‘ed’ and when to use ‘ing’.

For example:

I was bored.  The film was really boring.

Below is a list of some of the most common adjectives that can take either the ‘ed’ or ‘ing’ form.


VERB                          ‘ed’ adjective           ‘ing’ adjective


aggravate                            aggravated                         aggravating

alarm                                   alarmed                               alarming

amaze                                  amazed                                amazing

amuse                                  amused                               amusing

annoy                                  annoyed                             annoying

astonish                            astonished                        astonishing

bore                                     bored                                    boring

challenge                         challenged                          challenging

confuse                             confused                             confusing

convince                          convinced                           convincing

depress                            depressed                           depressing

disappoint                     disappointed                   disappointing

disgust                             disgusted                           disgusting

embarrass                     embarrassed                   embarrassing

encourage                     encouraged                      encouraging

excite                                excited                                exciting

exhaust                         exhausted                           exhausting

frighten                        frightened                          frightening

frustrate                       frustrated                          frustrating

interest                         interested                          interesting

please                             pleased                               pleasing

relax                                relaxed                               relaxing

satisfy                             satisfied                            satisfying

shock                              shocked                            shocking

terrify                             terrified                           terrifying

tire                                    tired                                   tiring

worry                               worried                           worrying


Adjective + ‘ed’

These describe how a person feels.

He often felt tired and depressed so he made an appointment to see the doctor.

The little boy was terrified of clowns.

I am disappointed that you can’t come to the wedding because  I was looking forward to seeing you there.

It was the best holiday ever! I felt totally relaxed all week. 

I’m so frustrated with my boss. 


Adjective + ‘ing’

These describe the thing or person that makes you feel the emotion. 


He told his doctor that his work was really tiring and depressing.

The little boy thinks clowns are terrifying.

You can’t come to the wedding?  That is so disappointing .  I was looking forward to seeing you there.

It was the best holiday ever!  It was so relaxing.

My boss is so frustrating.

adjectives ending in ed and ing


Business Phrasal Verbs: Learn English Vocabulary

Business Phrasal Verbs

This post looks at phrasal verbs, in particular, business phrasal verbs.  A phrasal verb is a phrase describing a usually single worded verb in more than one word.  They can be made using a verb and an adverb or a proposition, or both.

business phrasal verbs The English Tower learn English

Phrasal verbs are not usually used in formal, academic writing or business contracts. 


Phrasal Verbs




Branch out

Expand a business (often into a different area of trade/business)



Our range of sports equipment is selling well. We thought we might branch out into sportswear. 



Back up

Make a copy of files etc on a computer



Don’t forget to back everything up before you leave tonight.



Call back

Return a telephone call


I’m afraid she’s in a meeting.  Can I ask her to call you back?



Call off

Cancel or stop something from happening



We need to call off tomorrow’s trip to Head Office. The boss is ill.



Carry on



I don’t think we can carry on with our plans to buy the new factory.



Carry out

Do something (especially something you said you would do)



We can’t stop now.  We need to carry out the plans to build a new office. 


Come up with




Think of (usually an idea, plan or suggestion)


Can anyone come up with an idea for the Christmas party this year?


Deal with

Meet or talk to someone (usually as part of your job)



I had to deal with some very difficult clients today.  I’m exhausted.



Fill out/in

Complete a form


He needs to fill out an application form.



Hold on



Can you hold on, please, I need to get my diary.



Lay off

To make someone redundant


The company is losing money. I hope they don’t have to lay anybody off.




Note down

Make a note of something/write something down



I forgot to take a note of his name and address.


Run out of

To use/finish/sell all of something



We’ve run out of envelopes. Can you order some, please?


Set up

Formally establish a new company, business or system



He set up his own business five years ago. I think he is a website designer.




Set up (2)



Organise an event or activity that is going to happen



Can you set up a meeting with the directors for next Monday?



Take on





We have taken on six new members of staff in the last four months.



Take over



Take control of


Our company has been taken over by a big American corporation.



Take up



Occupy/fill time


I hope I haven’t taken up too much of your time!



Weigh up



Have you weighed up all the possibilities?

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Articles: Definite and Indefinite, using a, an, and the

Indefinite and definite articles: A, an, the


This post looks at when we use a, an and the. We call A and AN ‘indefinite articles’ because they describe something that is not definite; not specific.  They are used to describe a general thing not a particular thing. THE is a ‘definite article’.  Therefore, listener and speaker both know which thing the speaker is talking about.

A AN THE The English Tower Learn English

Indefinite Articles: Using A and An

We use a or an to talk about singular countable nouns (one noun that you can count), for example:

A dog, a hospital, a thought, a letter, a dream, a neighbour, a wedding, a house,

Continue reading Articles: Definite and Indefinite, using a, an, and the

Bonfire Night 5th November: Learn British Culture

Bonfire Night – 5th of November

‘Remember, remember, the fifth of November,

Gunpowder, treason and plot..’

 These are the opening lines of an English nursery rhyme from around 1870.  This post looks at the history of Bonfire Night…

(words with * are explained at the end.  Full poem below)

Bonfire Night is also known as Fireworks’ Night or Guy Fawkes Night. It is a British tradition* that began in 1605. A group of thirteen Catholic men wanted to destroy the Houses of Parliament and kill the king, James 1.  King James was a protestant and many Catholics believed that the King should also be Catholic.  They wanted to kill him and replace him with a Catholic leader. 

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The difference between MAKE and DO: Learn English Grammar

Make or do?

Make and do can be a problem for many students because there are not specific rules that helps us decide which to use in every situtation.  Most of the time we have to just learn when to use make and when to use do.  However, there are some rules that might help you learn some of the expressions… Test yourself at the end with our Quick Quiz on make/do.

Make and do: MAKE

1: Used to describe something that we can create or produce

The table is made of wood.

The toys were made in China.

Wine is made from grapes.

He wants a wedding ring made of platinum not gold.


2: Used to describe food/drinks

Make breakfast, lunch, brunch, dinner, tea, coffee, a cake, a sandwich, a salad, a roast dinner etc.

I don’t feel like making dinner tonight.  Shall we eat out?

I’m going to make a cup of tea. Would you like one?

I don’t normally make breakfast for the family now.  The kids are old enough to make their own.

I’ve bought some rum. I thought we could make some cocktails for the party.

Continue reading The difference between MAKE and DO: Learn English Grammar