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162 Vocabulary British English Lessons

Did you know that there are over 600,000 words in English? That's a lot of words, and far more than any human being could ever manage to learn. Even Shakespeare only used around 55,000 different words in all of his works. Mind you, he did actually invent quite a few of them. To get a good mastery of English, you do need to expand your vocabulary as much as possible. The more words you know, the better your English will be.

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10 of our 162 Vocabulary British English Lessons

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The Soldier

Perhaps one of the most famous World War I poems, The Soldier, by Rupert Brooke is known at least in part by most British people as it is often used on military memorials. The poem is one of a series of 5 sonnets that Brooke wrote on themes from the war published as 1914. This evocative and poignant poem romanticises the war rather than focussing on the grim realities. At the time Brooke wrote the poem, in the early years of the war, bodies of the dead were buried near where they fell and there are vast graveyards of British soldiers in foreign fields. Using patriotic language, the poem represents the idealism of the early days of the war which would be replaced by the horror of mechanised warfare as the war dragged on. Brooke would himself lie buried in a corner of a foreign field in 1915.


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The Strawberry Nose

Sit back and listen to this very British look at how an Englishman deals with an unfortunate change of appearance. Simple Stories were written by Arthur Hammond Marshall (1866-1934) who wrote under the pen name of Archibald Marshall. His humorous stories were written for Punch, a satirical magazine published in Britain between 1841 and 1992. The Simple Stories make fun of stereotypical British characteristics such as our stiff upper lip, our sense of duty, our deference to royalty, and our pride in our country to name but a few. Because Simple Stories are short stories intended for an adult audience and are written in a simple style and vocabulary, they are ideal stories for learners of English. There are few words that will confuse even lower-level students.


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The Suffix -ish

You have probably noticed the suffix -ish at the end of many English words. The suffix -ish is actually in the words English and British, and consequently Britlish, too. A suffix is a tag that we add to the end of words to change their meaning slightly. In the case of -ish we add it to the ends of nouns and adjectives to form adjectives which mean approximately, somewhat, or like. It’s a very old suffix which Old English inherited from the Germanic. Common uses of the suffix -ish are colour words, talking about the size of things, when talking about the temperature of things, when describing qualities, and it is often added to numbers and time to indicate approximation.


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The Tyger

Written sometime between 1790 and 1792, Blake's The Tyger is one of the most famous of English poems much loved by children and adults alike. The poem asks questions about what sort of creator would come up with something as fearful as a tiger. This lesson will teach you the poem, some background details about the poet, the vocabulary in the poem, and the IPA symbols used to represent the pronunciation of the poem. There is much debate today about the pronunciation of the words eye and symmetry and whether in Blake's time they rhymed or not.


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The Vagabond

The Vagabond is one of the poems from Robert Louis Stevenson's Songs of Travel and Other Verses published in 1896. In this lesson you will learn some of the vocabulary in the poem, as well as improving your pronunciation skills and your knowledge of the British English IPA chart and symbols. Robert Louis Stevenson (1850-1894) was a Scottish travel writer, poet, essayist, and novelist. He is best known for Treasure Island, the Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, and Kidnapped. He is the 26th most translated author in the world.


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The Windhover

Widely anthologised, The Windhover, by Gerard Manley Hopkins (1884-1889), though dedicated To Christ our Lord, is a rapturous love poem to life itself. Hopkins struggled to balance his vocation as a Catholic Jesuit servant of God and his poetical yearnings. Because of this, and his experimental use of new metrical forms, and his religious faith, his poetry was largely unrecognised when he died aged 44. It was not until 1918 that his poems were first published. This poem remains one his best known and will help you with your pronunciation, your vocabulary, and your mastery of the IPA symbols. The lesson also has a prose interpretation to help you better understand the poem.


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This Week - Next Week - Last Week

Do you ever have problems specifying dates in English? This lesson will help put an end to any such issues. I’ll talk you through the way we specify future and past dates in English. I’ll give you some practice with choosing the best way to specify what date you want to talk about. I’ll show you how we reduce complex consonant clusters which form between words in speech segments.


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Tongue Idioms

This lesson will help you to learn, remember, and use 12 common English idioms about the tongue. The 12 idioms are, set tongues wagging, silver tongued, loose tongue, tongue in cheek, sharp tongue, get tongue around, wicked tongue, on the tip of your tongue, civil tongue, tongue-lashing, cat got your tongue, and bite or hold your tongue.


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Transport Language

However you prefer to travel, be it by car, by plane, by bike, or simply walking, transport of some form is part of your life. If you don't know the vocabulary to use when travelling or deciding on which transport to use, you're going nowhere. This lesson will teach you much of the language you need to know to talk about transport. The lesson looks at canoes, boats, walking, horse riding, horses and carts, trains, planes, cars, lorries, bicycles, motorcycles, sailing ships, and more, gives you plenty of exercises to help you learn, remember, and use the new vocabulary you have learned.  


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Unpredictability

Many English multisyllable words are made up of many parts including prefixes and suffixes, and if you learn the most common prefixes and suffixes, you can expand your vocabulary dramatically. The word unpredictability has two secondary stresses as well as the main stress that is found in all English words. It’s unusual for a word to have more than one secondary stress, but this is the result of unpredictability being composed of so many parts. There are several negative prefixes in English. The most common are: de, dis, il, im, in, ir, mis, and un. This lesson will introduce you to some of them as well as helping you to pronounce them. I also look at prominence for effect. 


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10 of our 162 Vocabulary British English Lessons


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