It is important to develop a rich and varied vocabulary. You can do this by reading and by learning how to substitute words into the text. Scan the original text for the words below and see how you can substitute other words.
The Stolen Necklace (substituting other words)
I’m going to tell you about a crime that took place about four years ago. It didn’t happen to me. The victim was my father.
One Sunday my father went to our family shop in Bangkok. He went there to fix the door. After he had fixed the door, he walked around the shop. Then he went out to the street in front of the shop. He stood on the footpath in front of the shop, quite near the road and looked at the shop. As he was standing there, somebody came past on a motorbike. The man on the back of the bike was a robber. He grabbed a gold necklace from around my father’s neck and sped off with it.
My father watched him ride away and he thought of following him but he knew that he would not have been able to catch up with the motorcycle. Besides that he didn’t have any evidence that the necklace was his, or that the man had stolen it. There was nothing he could do.
He went to the police station but there was nothing that they could do either. My father didn’t have any evidence. If he had had a video recording of the crime, he might have been able to do something. The police might have been able to find the man. Unfortunately my father didn’t have any evidence at all.
The lucky thing is that he was not hurt. He lost the necklace but at least he was not injured. It is better not to wear valuable items of jewelry in the street. It is safer to dress modestly and not attract too much attention to yourself.
Telling and Writing
We often say “I am going to tell you about ..” or I am going to write about ..” at the start of an expository narrative. Note that we say “I am going to write about..” or “I am going to tell you about ..” but we do not say “I am going to write you about .. “.
“I am going to you write you” is American English. It is something we say when we plan to write that person a letter. In British English we say “I am going to write to you.
Happening – Occurring – Taking Place
These verbs and [phrasal verbs are interchangeable:
It happened three years ago.
It occurred three years ago.
It took place three years ago.
Happen to Somebody
Note that when we say: “It happened to me”, that is the only verb you can use before “to a person”.
You cannot use the others: “occur”and “take place” instead of “happen to”.
About – Approximately – Around
The expressions below are interchangeable:
around three years ago
about three years ago
approximately three years ago
Fixing and Repairing
“To fix” and “to repair” and “to mend” are interchangeable in the context of “fixing a door” but not in all situations. For example we can say: I fixed the problem” instead of “I solved the problem, but we never say “I mended the problem”.
He fixed the door.
He mended the door.
He repaired the door.
British and American English
“on the footpath” is British English and it means “on the sidewalk” in American English.
Expressing Closeness of Location
Another way to say “quite near the road” is “quite close to the road”. You could also write “pretty near the road” or “pretty close to the road”.
Look at this scale:
a bit close
Verbs of Motion
There are several ways to describe a person passing on a motorcycle;
He came past.
He rode past.
He motored past.
He went past.
Stealing Suddenly – Robbing
You could write:
He snatched the bag.
He grabbed the bag.
He stole the bag.
He took the bag.
The first two literally convey the sudden grasping motion with the hand, while the second two are more general and abstract.
The thief escaped. There are several ways to describe this:
He sped off.
He took off.
He rode off.
He motored off.
Thoughts of Pursuit
The father thought of pursuing the thief.
He thought of following him.
He thought of chasing him.
He thought of pursuing him.
These two phrases can be interchanged.
apart from that
Evidence and Proof
In this context the two words “evidence” and “proof” are interchangeable but NOT in all contexts.
These two are the same:
There was nothing he could do.
There wasn’t anything he could do.
These four can be interchanged without affecting meaning:
There was nothing they could do.
There was nothing that they could do.
There wasn’t anything they could do.
There wasn’t anything that they could do.
Luck and Fortune
In English “luck and “fortune” mean the same thing in many contexts. Look at the adverbs:
fortunately – luckily
the lucky thing is – the fortunate thing is
He was not not injured.
He was not hurt.
He was not harmed.
The Danger of Theft
In some places it is not safe to attract attention to yourself.
In some places it is not safe to draw attention to yourself.
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