Vocabulary Hack: Sound smarter and avoid mistakes


Hi. I’m Rebecca from engVid, and this
lesson is a vocabulary hack. What does that mean? It means that this lesson will allow you to learn
something to do with vocabulary very quickly, and also will enable you to improve your
vocabulary tremendously with just this one little trick. Okay? Now, what does it
have to do with? It has to do with something
called “Compound Adjectives”. Now, that doesn’t sound very exciting,
but it is actually really exciting. Let me show you what it
is and how to do it. Okay? How to use it. So, first of all,
what’s an adjective? An adjective is a word that
describes, usually, a noun. For example, if we say: “He is a tall man”, “tall”
describes the man, so “tall” is the adjective. “It’s a sunny day”,
“sunny” is the adjective. Right? “We had a big party”,
“big” is the adjective. So that’s an
adjective by itself. Now, what does the
word “compound” mean? “Compound” means more than one. So when we have compound adjectives we have
two or more words that are used together, but kind of as one unit,
to describe a noun. All right? Let’s see how it works. Now, for example, before I show you
this, let me give you two sentences. So sometimes people write
like this or speak like this: “Tom Cruise is an actor.
He is well-known.” Now, these are two simple sentences, but
it’s kind of a very basic way to speak. So if you want to speak more formally, or
more academically, or more professionally, then you could take those two sentences
and make them into one sentence. For example, you could say… Instead of saying that: “Tom Cruise
is an actor. He is well-known”, you could say: “Tom Cruise
is a well-known actor.” Now, when we use “well-known” like
this, we have to hyphenate it. We put that little dash in the
middle, that’s called a hyphen, and then this becomes a compound adjective
which describes the word “actor”. Let’s take another example: “We decided
to go to New York at the last minute.” Okay? Or I could say: “We made a last-minute
decision to go to New York.” Now, the second way is a little bit
higher English, more advanced English. All right? “Last-minute” in this case is the compound
adjective, which remember is connected with a dash or a hyphen. The third example: “They live in a
country where people speak English.” We could say that, but it is
better and more advanced to say: “They live in an
English-speaking country.”, “English-speaking” is
the compound adjective. All right. The last one here, okay: “The city had so much
rain that it broke all previous records.” Okay? Or we could say: “The city had” or “The
city received record-breaking rainfall.” Okay? So, again, “record-breaking” is
the compound adjective here. All right. Now, just to show you how important it is for
you not to forget the hyphen, let’s look at these two sentences. Now, the first one says: “I
saw a man eating tiger.” Now, what does that mean? Well, let’s see if there’s any difference
between that one and the second one. “I saw a man-eating tiger.” Any difference? All right, so there is a difference, there
is a big difference, especially for the man. All right. “I saw a man”, so this is like the
man, and he was eating tiger. He was eating some tiger meat. Okay? The man was
eating the tiger. But in this one: “I saw a man-eating tiger”,
“man-eating” is an adjective which describes the tiger. That means the tiger is the kind of tiger that
eats people, and that’s called man-eating. So, the meaning is completely different when you
add the hyphen, so don’t forget to add that. All right. Now, this is another very important
thing to remember when you’re doing… Or using compound adjectives, and that’s when
you use compound adjectives that have numbers. This is such a common mistake,
even at advanced levels. But now that you’re watching this video, you have
a chance to get rid of this mistake forever. And if you don’t make this mistake, you will get
a much higher score-I assure you-on your… Any exam and also when you apply for a job, or
when you’re looking for a promotion because this is a very sophisticated
thing to correct. It’s an advanced correction, but it’s a really
easy correction, and that’s why this is a vocabulary hack. Remember? Okay. So let’s look at what it is. So, let’s take this sentence first: “The
contract was for five million dollars.” Right? That sentence is not
wrong or anything. It’s correct. It’s fine. It’s just okay, but if we want to express it in
a different way, this is what you have to do: “It was a five-million-dollar
contract.” Now what happens? All of this: “five-million-dollar” becomes
like one adjective unit to describe the word “contract”, so we
have to hyphenate it. “Five-million-dollar” we
hyphenate those three words. Plus you’re probably wondering: “Hmm, Rebecca forgot to put
the ‘s’ there because we’re talking about five million, and that’s
more than one and it’s plural.” Right? Yes, of course, you’re right. So here we said: “Five
million dollars”. But when we use it as an adjective we drop the
“s”, and that’s the mistake that people make, but not you anymore. So now we have to say:
“Five-million-dollar contract”, not “five-million-dollars
contract”. Got it? Okay. All right, the next one, a similar example
with the numbers because this is where most people make the mistake. Not so much here, but here. “The conference was
three days long.” All right? That sentence is okay, but if we want to express
that in a little more advanced way, we would say: “It was a three-day conference.” Again, “three-day” is the compound
adjective-right?-for “conference”, and because it’s a number we don’t add the “s” there, we
say: “three-day conference”, not “three-days conference”. And this is such an important thing to correct
that next we’re going to do some exercises so you can really master this. All right? Be right back. Okay, so let’s practice that last part where
I said that many students make mistakes and it has to do with the numbers. Now, of course when you go to our website and
you do the quiz there, you can do a quiz on everything that we’ve learned today about
compound adjectives, but today on the board right now let’s just focus on the
compound adjectives that have numbers. Now, there’s a clue here and I’m going to
tell you what it is actually after we do the first two. All right? So, let’s pretend that we’re going to make
these sentences, and all of them start with the words: “It’s a
_______ course.” Now, here I’ll tell you how
long that course lasts. Six months. So if we want to make that into a
compound adjective, what do we say? “It’s a six-month course.” Right? We took off the “s”. Now, here I’ve written them in
numbers just because it’s easier. All right? But the general rule is: If you’re writing a
number which is 10 or lower-okay?-then you can spell it and you
should spell it. If your number is over 10,
then you can use the numbers. Okay? So, for example, in this next
one: “It’s a _______ suitcase.” The suitcase weighs 20 kilos. Right? So we can say now that: “It’s a 20-kilo suitcase.” All right? Remember? No “s”. And here I put “20-kilo” like that hyphenated
because this number is more than 10. That’s a general rule. The most important thing is that if you’re
writing a document, stay consistent. If you’re using numbers, use numbers; and
if you’re using letters, use letters. But as I said, generally numbers that are
lower than 10 are written out because they’re shorter and easier
to read like that. Also, just a little something, nothing to
do with compound adjectives, but remember it has to do with numbers, that any time you
start a sentence, you cannot use a number, the numeral like this. You can only use the word,
the spelling of the number. It doesn’t matter what
size the number is. Okay? So, don’t start a sentence by
saying: “5 parts of this…” No. You have to write out the word:
“Five”, “F-i-v-e” or “Sixty”. All right? Let’s continue. “It’s a _______ TV series.” It has five parts. “It’s a”, what would we say? “five-part”. Okay? I’m not going to write them all for
you, because I think you got it. So here because it was less than 10,
I’m writing it out as a full word. Okay? And here: “It’s a _______
report”, it has 60 pages. “It’s a 60-page report.” Okay? What about this one? Flight: “It’s a _______ flight.” It lasts for eight hours,
so we could write out: “It’s an eight-hour flight.” Number six, say it with me:
“It’s a _______ break.” Lasts for 15 minutes, so we say: “It’s a 15-minute break.” Very good. Number seven: “It’s
a _______ farm.” It has 20 acres. An acre is a unit
of measuring land. So we say: “It’s
a 20-acre farm.” And the last one: “It’s
a _______ race.” It goes for 10 kilometres, so we
say: “It’s a 10-kilometre race.” Okay? I know it seems like: “Okay,
yeah, I got the point”, but there are many,
many people around the world who make this mistake and
I don’t want you to be one of them. Not anymore, right? Okay. Now, to really understand this compound adjectives
very well, please go to our website at www.engvid.com. There you can do a quiz on some more of
this, plus what I taught you earlier about compound
adjectives in general. Also, please subscribe
to my website at… Sorry, on YouTube so you can continue to get
lots and lots of English lessons that you can… That will help you to
learn English faster. Okay? And hopefully more joyfully. All right. Take care. All the best with your English. Bye for now.

100 thoughts on “Vocabulary Hack: Sound smarter and avoid mistakes”

  1. First, thank you for this useful video. Sorry Rebecca, but should not be : 'I saw a man eating A tiger.' Tiger is a singular noun, it should take the article 'a' before 'tiger'

  2. your way of teaching is .. like I have no words .. so generous.. you're Ms. Rabecca .. your videos are really worthy for me … We want more videos from you. .. 🙂

  3. excellent Rebecca.. To score high, I purposefully used 1-2 compound adjectives this time during my writing test and i got 7.. thank you so much.. please upload more videos with similar techniques to score high..

  4. wow this is so interesting, I never thought it was that easy. thanks a million for sharing such an incredible lesson.

  5. Hello from a fan from Guatemala, thank you for everything you’re doing for us as English learners.
    Your videos are very helpful and I would love if you would upload these videos to iTunes podcasts that would be very helpful.

  6. Great explanation! To note: a dash and a hyphen are two different beasts. In the case of compound adjectives, hyphens are used, not dashes.

  7. Hi Rebecca ! I want to say that if you write the numbers on your videos .like 1234 episodes . It's very easy for me to note your lecture property.

  8. Hi Rebecca, why we put "a" before "well-known" because I learned from another engvid video, "a" must put before countable word, but well-known is uncountable word. Hope you can explain. Thanks for your lesson. Really helpful for me

  9. Just enjoying your teaching style N teaching materials.Great for my own classes.Thanks a million😘😘

  10. thanks for your efforts Miss Rebecca in this video you changed sentences from something to start with a word more advance like another sentence and start with IT WAS , also you have another video you explained we have remove or change( it is or it was this is or this was or there are or there was or…) to something else, so i'm confuse ?! between this two videos. i hope get answer more likely by video.

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