Archive for adjectives

adjectives: plausible / implausible


For today’s blog entry, I’d like to go over the adjectives “plausible” and “implausible”. We use them when we want to talk about something which a person says that likely to be believed or not believed. We can also use them when we are trying to figure out if something is true or not. Finally, they can be used to talk about the believability of a story in a novel, movie, or TV show. Let me give you some example sentences using them.

I was late for work because I overslept, but I can’t tell my boss that. I have to think of a plausible excuse for being late.

I can’t tell my boss that I was mugged on my way to work. This is a safe city, so that would be totally implausible.

Some people don’t think it’s plausible that a meteor hitting the earth could cause the dinosaurs to die, but I think it’s totally plausible.

Some people think it’s implausible that a meteor hitting the earth could cause the dinosaurs to die, but I don’t agree.

I like action movies even though most of the time the stories are not plausible at all.

I like action movies even though most of the time the stories are completely implausible.

The word “plausible” is used positively, and the word “implausible” is used negatively, so they are the opposite of each other. However, we can also say “not plausible”, as in my fifth example sentence. The only difference between “not plausible” and “implausible” is that “implausible” is slightly more formal than the other one.

Please note that we don’t usually use words like “very” or “really” to emphasize these adjectives. Instead, it’s more common to use words such as “totally” and “completely” in order to emphasize them.

adjectives: temperamental

Baby Einstein

This blog entry is about the adjective “temperamental”. We use it to describe a person or a machine which is very sensitive and unpredictable. Let me give you some example sentences using it.

I heard that actress is really temperamental, so nobody wants to work with her.

My new boss is supposed to be really temperamental, so I’m really worried about working for him.

Please be aware that this photocopier can be quite temperamental. Sometimes you have to hit it to make it work.

I’m really frustrated with my car these days. It still works, but it’s become really temperamental.

When we use this word to talk about a person, as in my first two examples, they are very sensitive emotionally and their behavior cannot be predicted.

When we use this word to talk about a machine, as in my last two examples, it is very sensitive physically and whether or not it works properly cannot be predicted.

In English, both ways of using this word are equally common. In all cases, this word is considered negative.

adjective: slow

Signs Warning of Approaching Curve

Today I’d like to write about a common adjective, “slow”. This is another example of a word that has other meanings that many people don’t know about. Of course, the main meaning is for a thing or a person to take a long time to move, but I’d like to go over its other meanings today.

1. for a period of time to not be very active. For example:

I had a slow day today. I just read a book and cleaned up my apartment.

I’m worried that the years after my retirement will be really slow.

2. for a company or store to not have many customers. For example:

Business has been very slow recently. We have to find a way to attract more customers.

It’s a slow night at the bar tonight because it’s a Tuesday. It will get busier on Friday and Saturday nights.

3. for a clock or watch to be behind the real time. For example:

Is it really 4:00 now or is that clock slow?

My watch is a little slow. Can you tell me what time it is?

4. for a person to have trouble understanding something which is easier for other people. For example:

My brother is a little slow when it comes to math.

The students in this class aren’t stupid. They’re just slower than the other students in the school.

adjective: dull


Yesterday I wasn’t able to write a blog entry. I’m afraid I’m getting quite busy these days and I won’t be able to write my blog as often as I have been.

Anyway, the blog entry for today is the adjective “dull”. This word has three meanings in English:

1. to be boring. For example:

The party last night was really dull. I wish I hadn’t gone.

My husband has become really dull recently. He never wants to go out and do anything anymore.

2. to not be sharp. For example:

This pencil is really dull. Do you have a pencil sharpener I can borrow?

My kitchen knives are so dull. I need to get them sharpened.

3. to not be shiny or bright. For example:

My kitchen floor is really dull right now. I need to polish it.

The colors in this painting used to be bright, but they have faded over the years. Now, as you can see, the colors are quite dull.

Some people think the word “dull” means “dumb” or “stupid”, but it doesn’t. Also, please note that this word can mean “boring”, but it doesn’t mean “bored”.

adjective: appetizing

Today’s adjective is “appetizing” and is used to describe food. However, we don’t use it to talk about the way food tastes. In that case, we would say “delicious”, “good”, “excellent”, etc. We use the word “appetizing” to say that a certain food looks, smells or seems delicious before we eat it. For example:

Look at the pizza at the table next to us. It looks really appetizing so I’d like to order the same thing.

My friend described this amazing recipe for lemon chicken that she made last night. It sounded really appetizing, so I got the recipe from her and I’m going to make it this weekend.

Durians don’t smell very appetizing, but they taste really good.

A: Here try some of this. It’s really good.

B: Well, frankly, it doesn’t look so appetizing. I don’t think I’d like it.

So, as you can see from my examples, we can use “appetizing” in both positive and negative sentences. Please remember that we can’t use this word after a person has eaten something; it’s only about the perception they have of the food before they eat it.

adjective: compassionate

Today’s adjective is “compassionate”, and it is used to describe a person who has a lot of sympathy for another person in a bad situation and then does something to help them. For example:

Mother Theresa was one of the most compassionate people in the world because she helped extremely poor people in India.

My aunt is a very compassionate woman. She volunteers to give food and blankets to homeless people.

Why didn’t you give any money to that charity? It’s to help sick children in this city. You should be more compassionate!

A: Who’s the most compassionate person you know?

B: It’s my friend, Nancy. She’s always giving money to charity.

It’s important to note that if we describe a person as “compassionate” they must take action and do something to try to help people. It’s not enough to simply feel sympathy for people.

Also, please note that in my last example, the person replied by talking about a person in his/her life. When someone asks us about a person that we know, it has to be a person that we personally know. We don’t talk about famous people in these situations.

In addition, please note that because this is an adjective that ends with -ate, the pronunciation of the last syllable is /it/. Therefore, we pronounce this word /kum PASH shun it/.

adjective: atrocious

It’s Wednesday, so that means it’s adjective day! Today’s adjective is the word “atrocious”, and it is used to describe something that is really, really bad. For example:

The dialogue in that movie was atrocious! Who wrote the script for that?

My sister is an atrocious cook! Everything she makes tastes horrible!

Did you see the dress that Kim was wearing the other day? It was purple  and red with a strange picture of a flower on it. It was just atrocious!

The service at that restaurant was atrocious the last time I went there! I’ll never go back again!

My brother is an atrocious driver! I’m scared every time he gets behind the wheel of a car!

Generally, we don’t use this word to describe people except when describing their role at doing something (cook, driver, etc). It’s more common to use “atrocious” to describe things or situations.

The pronunciation of this word is /at TRO shus/.

adjective: laid-back

Last week, I wrote about the adjective “uptight”, so this week I’d like to write about its opposite “laid-back”. This word is used to describe a person who is very relaxed and flexible about things like rules. For example:

I was late for work this morning, but my boss is really laid-back so he didn’t care.

My parents are really laid-back when it comes to the guys I date. I had a boyfriend once who had many tattoos, but it didn’t bother them.

I used to be really uptight when I was younger, but now I’m much more laid-back. I’ve learned not to take life so seriously.

A: Who’s more laid-back – your mother or your father?

B: My dad is way more laid-back than my mom! She used to scold me all the time, but he almost never did.

The word “laid-back” is a little bit casual. If you want a slightly more formal word, you can use “relaxed”.

adjective: uptight


This week’s adjective is “uptight”, and native English speakers use this word to describe a person who is not flexible at all especially when it comes to following rules. These people are usually very serious and have no sense of humor. For example:

My new boss is so uptight about the dress code. He makes all the men wear a jacket and tie even in the summer!

A: We can’t leave until 6:00, and it’s only 5:57!

B: Don’t be so uptight! It’s only three minutes!

My parents have gotten really uptight since they retired. They used to be really fun and open-minded, but now they seem to disapprove of everything I do.

We have a new supervisor coming in, and I’ve heard he’s really uptight! I’m not looking forward to working with him!

Obviously this word is very negative, so we don’t usually use it to describe ourselves. Also, we don’t usually say it directly to another person. Therefore, it’s very rude to say “You are so uptight.” to another person; however, sometimes we say “Don’t be so uptight!” as in my second example. Please note that you should only say this to close friends but never to someone of higher status than you.

adjective: desperate

Last week, one of my students asked me about the adjective “desperate”, so I thought it would make a good blog entry for today. We use this word to talk about a person’s feeling when they choose something they normally wouldn’t choose. They do this because they feel they have no other choice. For example:

I didn’t want to take this job, but I was desperate! There were no other jobs available.

I know this apartment isn’t good, but we were desperate. There are so few apartments available in this city right now.

I made a mistake when I started dating Laura. I didn’t love her but I was desperate for a girlfriend, so when she asked me out, I said yes.

I’m so bored right now! I’m desperate for something to do. I’ll even help you clean the house, and I hate cleaning!

We can also use this word to talk about something that a person really, really wants. For example:

I’m desperate for a really good meal in a nice restaurant! It’s been such a long time since I’ve done that.

My friend is desperate to get married and start a family. It’s what she has always wanted.

I’m desperate to find out what happens on that TV show! It’s so interesting right now!

As I mentioned a little while ago in my blog about the adjective “affectionate”, all adjectives ending in -ate are pronounced /it/. Therefore, the pronunciation of this word is /DES prit/; it only has two syllables.

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