Word of the Week

wowWith its 120th word, Word of the Week has now come to an end. We hope you enjoyed this free feature and that it has given you an insight into the thinking and research behind the English Vocabulary Profile.

All 120 are still available to read in our archive, below. Each Word of the Week in the archive is followed by a link to the full entry for that word on the English Vocabulary Profile. To view the entries, you will need to subscribe to the EVP: to subscribe for free click here.

Word of the week: on

The word on is one of the longest entries in the EVP. In English, it operates both as a preposition and an adverb. Learners appear to know most of its straightforward prepositional meanings by A2 level, together with one specific use of the adverb in the context of clothes (She’s got a black coat on.) Learners at A2 are also familiar with the prepositional phrases on foot and on sale, and there is evidence of many more phrases being known by B1 level. At B2 level the preposition starts to appear in the context of opinion and argument, in phrases such as on balance and on the one hand … on the other hand. Two more colloquial senses of the adverb, HAPPENING and MOVING FORWARD, (as in I’ve got a lot on at the moment. and You cycle on and I’ll meet you there.) have provisionally been set at B2, but as these are more spoken than written uses, these levels may be adjusted once spoken learner data is available. These senses are commonly used by first language speakers of English.
To view the full entry for on on the English Vocabulary Profile, please click here.

Word of the week: might

The modal verb might is used at A2 level in the sense of talking about what will possibly happen. A slightly different meaning, talking about what is possibly true (as in Don’t go any closer – it might be dangerous.) is put at B1 level. The use of might have for speculation and deduction about the past or future seems to start at B2 level. Learners also appear to know the phrase might as well at B2.
To view the full entry for might on the English Vocabulary Profile, please click here.

Word of the week: rather

The adverb rather is very common in English and learners start to use it from B1 level. There is evidence worldwide for the phrases rather than and would rather, as well as for the meaning SMALL AMOUNT (as in I thought he was rather nice.) As with many adverbs, the productive use of rather under exam conditions often indicates better than average performance, so this is a useful word for learners to know and be able to use with confidence. One further sense of rather is included at B2 level, which is primarily spoken and used in self-correction. 
To view the full entry for rather on the English Vocabulary Profile, please click here.

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