to the Editor
around in American
and British English
MED Magazine celebrates
its first birthday
What we talk about
when we talk about
Narratives and descriptions
Festive food and drink
Tips for the CD-ROMs
Vocabulary building with
Texts are written for a purpose. The purpose might be to get or give information,
to discuss a topic, to present an opinion, or to persuade someone to do
something. Writers organize texts in various ways to do these particular
jobs. They use different grammar structures and vocabulary depending on
the purpose of a text.
A narrative tells a story or gives an account (real or
imagined) of something that has happened. The events are usually given
in the order that they happen. Past tenses are the most common grammar
structures in narratives. The main events are usually told in sentences
using the past simple and past continuous tenses. The details or extra
information about the story are often in the present or past perfect tenses.
Direct speech is used to add variety and interest.
in the end
|Sue Miller, who works as an acrobat in a circus,
went into a thrift store in St. Louis. She left her bike at the door.
While she was in the store, one of the clerks sold her bike for $20.
Ms Miller had paid $1,500 for it. When she came out of the store and
discovered what had happened, she was shocked. "At first I thought
someone had moved it. Then my knees turned to jelly and I fell down.
I felt like I'd been kicked in the stomach", she said.
Write a short account of Nelson Mandela's life based on
the information below, using some of the useful vocabulary from the section.
Nelson Mandela Timeline
||born in a village in the Transkei
||expelled from Fort Hare University
for leading a strike
||joined the African National Congress
(ANC), formed the African National Congress Youth League with
fellow ANC members
||became a lawyer, opened the first
black legal firm in the country with Oliver Tambo
||Sharpeville Massacre, Mandela
detained until 1961
||jailed for 5 years
||sentenced to life imprisonment
while serving the 5-year sentence
||elected President of the ANC
||shared Nobel Peace Prize with
President FW de Klerk
||became President of South Africa
||retired as President of South
A description gives details about what someone or something
is like or how something is done. Descriptions often use present tenses,
but they also use past tenses to give background information. Fictional
and historical descriptions often use past tenses.
When we are describing people and things, we often use
a series of adjectives. The usual order for adjectives before nouns is:
|other (size, shape,
Describing a Person's
he/she is tall/short
he/she has curly/straight/wavy/light/dark hair
he's got a beard/moustache
he/she wears glasses
he/she has wrinkles/freckles/dimples
he/she has a round/oval/long face
he/she looks/seems/appears nervous/relaxed/troubled
My Friend Jane (Part 1)
My friend Jane is fair with short, curly blond hair.
She's got an oval face, beautiful green eyes, and a few freckles
on her nose. She's about average height for her age 14. Today
she's wearing her school uniform a gray skirt, a longsleeved
white blouse, and black shoes.
Describing a Person's
he/she has an outgoing personality/easygoing manner
she/he can be stubborn/difficult/charming
My Friend Jane (Part 2)
Jane is sitting at her desk, staring out the window
and seems to be thinking about something else. She is not paying
attention to what the teacher is saying. She's often very quiet
and doesn't say much in class. Her teachers say that she is a good
student hardworking and intelligent just not very
Write a description of a person that you know and/or admire.
Write about their appearance and character.
in the center/middle
to the right/left
to one side
in the foreground/background
in front of
The View from My Bedroom
The clouds look like dark mountains in the distance.
There is a small white house to the right with smoke coming out
of the chimney. One of the upstairs windows is open and there is
a cat asleep on the porch. The trees are beginning to lose their
leaves. An old rusty red pickup truck is slowly climbing the rocky
road to the house. There is a long wooden table and several cardboard
boxes in the back of the truck.
|before doing something
when/once you have done something
Hot Peanut Sauce
First heat the coconut milk until it boils. Then add the two kinds
of curry paste and stir-fry for three minutes. When the mixture
has cooked, add peanut butter, sugar, salt, and lemon juice. Mix
all the ingredients thoroughly, then return to a low heat, stirring
Next month we'll take a look at two more frequent text
types: reviews and discursive texts.