Vocabulary in Context
Look at these two phrases:
The best way to learn words is to learn them in a situation.
The best way to learn vocabulary is to learn it in a context.
Now look at the words above in context:
Life is beautiful.
I am alive.
I live on Earth.
The word ”life” is a noun. It is the subject of the sentence:
Life is always changing.
The word “alive” is an adjective. It is used with a “be” verb in the sentence:
My mother is still alive but my father died a long time ago.
I live in a small house on top of a mountain.
Pairs of Opposites
Words often occur in contrast with others as pairs of opposites. Look at these examples:
Verbs – Live and Die
In the novel “Catch 22” by Joseph Heller one character says:
It is better to die on your feet than to live on your knees,
when he wants to talk about the importance of fighting for freedom. Another character says the first character has got it wrong. It should be:
It is better to live on your feet than to die on your knees.
Living and Dying – Nouns – Activities
To live and to die are often seen as opposite verbs but if you look closer you see that “to live” is a long action which represents living your life. Dying is usually a short action. It does not usually take long to die. Death comes quickly. We might live for seventy years but then we die in minute, or a second.
It depends of course. Some people have a depressed and negative outlook. If you are obsessed with death somebody might say:
He is dying.
Living and Surviving
The verbs “to live” can be contrasted with the verb “to survive”. If a person has miserable life, we can say:
He is not really living. He is just surviving.
The Expectation of Happiness
We say this because we all expect to be happy. It is natural to be happy. We are born with the ability to be happy. Happiness is what we expect. We want to live our lives. We don’t want to merely survive. Survival is not enough. We want happiness.
Read more about the vocabulary of happiness
|at Marvin PA|
Another Aspect of the Verb “to live”
Each language analyses the world in subtly different ways. German has two verbs to describe “to live”. The German verb “leben” refers to living your life as in:
“I want to live for a long time”
The German verb “wohnen” also means “to live” as in:
I live in Germany.
It is better translated by the English verb “reside” but in English:
I reside in Germany,
is very formal. It is not a natural way to speak. It is more natural to say:
I live in Germany.
Have you ever lived in an English-speaking country?
Tell us about your experience in the comments section at the bottom of this page.
More Opposites – Adjectives – alive and dead
“Alive and “dead” are adjectives. We might say:
My grandmother is still alive but my grandfather is dead.
This is informal style. If we wish to use a more formal register, we can say:
My grandfather passed away a long time ago.
My grandfather has been dead for a long time.
Opposition in Adjectives – live and dead
When we talk about people we say:
My younger brother is still alive but my elder brother is dead.
But when we speak of animals we talk about:
Note that we can use the adjective “alive” to say:
He is still alive.
But we don’t say: an alive snake
In that case we would say:
A live snake.
The snake is alive.
If the adjective comes before the noun we say “live” but if it comes without a noun, we say:
It is a live crocodile.
It is alive.
Talking about Objects
When we talk about objects, we can say:
He stepped on a live wire.
In this case an electrical wire fell down and somebody stepped on it.
He was killed by a live wire.
Opposition with People – Nouns
When we talk about people we can refer to them as: “the living and the dead”. The living are the people who live all around us but the dead are the people who rest in the cemetery.
Opposition in Nouns – Life and Death
The nouns “life” and “death” are often used in the title of stories:
The Life of Ivan Denisovich
A Day in the Life
Opposition in Adjectives – lively and dead
A social event like a party can be described as “lively” or “dead”. If people were chatting and laughing and dancing, we could say:
The party was quite lively.
The party was dead.
An Interesting Idea from the Japanese Language
The Japanese language has an interesting word: “nama”, which can be translated as
live music – nama music
tap beer – nama biiru
raw fish – nama sakana
raw egg – nama tamago
Field of Meaning
Learn more by clicking the Links
Travel Broadens the Mind
It is important to be able to trust people
Audio – Motorcycles and Mountains
A Field is an Area
Audio – Japanese Animals
Audio – A Conversation with a guy from GermanyBirth and Death – Vocabulary