Vocubulary: Different Uses of Words


From BBC Learning English: Grammar Towards Advanced

7 uses of ’light'

light (B1)
start to make something burn

Stand well back when you light the fireworks.

light (B1)

I’m going to paint the living room walls light green.

shed light on (C2)
give new information to help explain a situation

I don’t understand what’s gone wrong. Can you shed light on the situation?

light (A1)
pale in colour

out like a light (C1)
in a deep sleep

The kids played on the beach for hours. When I put them to bed they went out like a light.

in the light of (C1)
because of certain facts

The police decided to drop the prosecution in the light of the new information.

brings to light (C2)
reveals something previously unknown

The cause of the problem was brought to light by the engineer’s inspection.

9 uses of ‘run’

make your blood run cold (C2)
make you feel very scared

I knew he wanted to hurt me. The look in his eyes made my blood run cold.

run (A1)
move fast by taking steps that are much quicker than walking

running (B2)

run up against (something) (C2)
start to experience a problem

I’m sorry this is late. We thought it would be ready on time, but we ran up against quite a few difficulties.

runs through (C2)
thinks about

running through (his head) (C2)
thinking about

I’ve got so many ideas running through my head. I don’t know which one to work on first.

run the risk of (C2)
do something that might cause something bad to happen

If you don’t use anti-virus software when you’re online, you’re running the risk of cyber-attack.

runs away (B2)
escapes; leaves somewhere quickly and/or secretly

Juan was just 15 years old when he ran away to join the circus.

runs after (B1)

9 uses of ‘cut’

cut out (C1)
stop eating

My doctor told me to cut out dairy products for a few weeks to see if I feel any better.

to cut a long story short(C1)
to only talk about the most important or interesting details

cut (someone) short (C2)
stop (someone) from finishing what they are saying or doing

shortcut (B2)
different route or direction that saves time

There are no shortcuts to learning English - you need to practise every day!

cut to the chase (C2)
don’t waste time, just get to the important bit

I haven’t got all day! Will you just hurry up and cut to the chase.

cutting down (A2)
making a tree fall to the ground by cutting it near the base

woodcutters (B2)
people whose job is to cut down trees
cut (someone/something) up** (B1)
use a sharp tool to separate something into pieces

cutbacks (C2)
reduction in money available to spend

Because of company cutbacks, we no longer have free coffee and cake in the mornings!

11 uses of ’look'

looking for (A1)
trying to find

has the looks (C2)
appears intelligent and/or handsome

the look of (B2)
the appearance of

looks on (C1)
has a particular opinion

looks like (B1)

looking to (C2)
planning to

looks as if (B2)
appears to be

looks over (C2)

look down on (B2)
believe that someone is less important than you

look up (C1)

look forward to (C2)
be excited and happy about a future event

5 uses of ‘stand’

stand up for (B2)
give support to; defend

can’t stand (B1)
strongly dislike

don’t stand a chance (C2)
have little possibility of success

stand for (C2)
represents an idea or priniciple

stands to lose (C2)
be in a situation where you may lose an advantage

won’t stand for (C1)
refuse to accept or allow a situation

stand out (B2)
be noticeably better than other people

stands by (B2)
supports someone in a difficult situation

stands (C1)
remains; exists in a place

4 uses of ‘round’

driving him around the bend (C2)
making him very annoyed

comes round (C2)
begins to accept something previously rejected

round and round (B2)
moving in a circular direction

round the clock (C1)
all day and all night

round (A2)
on all sides (of something)

goes round to (A2)

in a roundabout kind of way (C2)
more or less; sort of

round off (B2)
finish; complete (something)

9 uses of ‘sound’

sound out (B2)
talk to someone to find out their thoughts and ideas

by the sound of it (C2)
basing your ideas on information you have heard or read

sounds (B2)

doesn’t like the sound of (something) (C1)
is unhappy about a situation he has heard about

not a sight or sound of (someone) (C2)
nobody has seen or heard from (someone)

sounds strange (A2)
seems unusual

sound (A2)
something that can be heard

sounds as though (B1)
appears to be true, based on what you have heard

sounds like (B1)
(also) appears to be true, based on what you have heard

8 uses of ‘break’

breaks the news (C2) tells someone about something bad

break off (B2)
end a relationship

breaks into (B1)
enters a place by force

break up (B1)
end a relationship

breaks down (B1)
gets upset; starts to cry

break her promise (B2)
not do something she had agreed to do

breaking (A2)
separating into smaller pieces

breaks her heart (B2)
makes her feel extremely sad

10 uses of ‘make’

makes (A1)

has made a name for himself (C2)
has become well-known for something

makes (B1)
causes something to happen

to make matters worse (B2)
to cause a bad situation to get even worse

makes for (B2)
moves towards

makes a start (C2)
begins to do something

makes his blood boil (C2)
causes him to be very angry

makes up his mind (B1)
finally decides

make of (C2)
understand the meaning of

makes time (C1)
finds spare time to do something

13 uses of ’turn'

take a turn for the worse (C2)
suddenly become worse

turns out (B2)
is discovered to be

turns a blind eye (C1)

turning (A1)
changing direction

turn back (B2)
travel in the direction they came from

turn of events (C2)
outcome of a situation

turn up (B2)

turns into (B1)
changes; becomes

9 uses of ‘stick’

stick up for (C2)

sticks (B2)
goes into

stick with (B2)
stay close to

stick by (C2)
continue to support

stick (B1)
a long, thin piece of wood

stuck (B2)
unable to move

can’t stick (C1)

stick (B2)
become attached

stick together (B2)
support each other

11 uses of ‘set’

set (B2)
(a story) situated in a particular time and/or place

set their sights on (C2)
have a particular goal (to do something)

dead set against (C1)
completely opposed to

sets off (B1)
starts a journey

set out (C2)
started doing something in order to achieve an aim

sets him off (C2)
causes him to start

setback (C1)
problem that causes a situation to be delayed or get worse

set (B1)

set on (B2)
determined to achieve

sets on (B2)

all set (C1)

12 uses of ‘pay’

pay up (C1)
pay money that is owed

pays a heavy price (C2)
suffers terrible consequences

pay attention (B1)
watch or listen carefully

pay (A1)
give money in exchange for goods or services

pay off (B2)
be successful after taking a risk

pay handsomely (C1)
give a lot of money in exchange for goods or services

pay in cash (A2)
pay using coins and notes rather than by cheque or credit card

be in the pay of (C2)
work for someone (often secretly and/or dishonestly)

pay (B1)
money you receive for doing a job

pay day (B2)
the day you receive your wages from your job

pay (C2)
be punished

without paying a penny (B1)
not giving money in return for goods or services


dead (A2)
not alive

dead certain (C1)
completely sure about something

deadly danger (B2)
extreme danger

the dead of night (C1)
the middle of the night

stops dead in his tracks (C2)
stop suddenly

dead silence (C1)
completely quiet

stone dead (C1)
completely dead

dead giveaway (C2)
something that accidentally but clearly reveals a secret

dead ringer (C2)
exact likeness

8 uses of ’take'

takes (A1)
brings a person or thing from one place to another

taken someone into (your) care (C1)
agreed to look after someone and be responsible for them

takes the opportunity (B2)
uses the situation to do something he wants to do

take (someone) off to (C1)
move (someone) from one place to another

take refuge (C2)
find shelter (from danger or unhappiness)

takes pity on (B2)
feels sympathy for

takes an instant dislike to(B2)
immediately feels hostility towards something or someone

seems/is taken with (C1)
is attracted to

taken advantage of (C2)
used a situation to get what you want (often by deceit)

takes up (B2)
begins a hobby, job or activity

take off (B2)
start to become successful

take a turn for the worse (C1)
start to go wrong

take care of (B1)
look after

13 uses of ’long'

all day long (B1)
continuously throughout the day

long (A1)
measuring a large distance between two points

before long (B1)
soon; quickly

last long (B1)
continue for a lot of time

a long way off (B1)
a large distance away

take long (B2)
need a lot of time

long gone (C1)
departed a large amount of time ago

as long as I live (B2)
for the rest of my life

no longer (B2)
not any more

a long shot (C2)
an attempt that is unlikely to succeed

at long last (B2)
finally; after a lot of time and/or effort

so long as (C1)
on the condition that

longed (C2)
wanted to do something very much

Bill longed to have a bit more excitement in his life, so he signed up for a course in skydiving.

10 uses of ‘stay’

stay (A2)
live in a place for a short time

stay out of his way (C1)
avoid him

stay on (C1)
continue to be in a place

stay over (B2)
sleep in a place for the night instead of going home

stays up (B2)
doesn’t go to bed at the usual time

stay away from (C1)

stay put (C2)
not move from a place

stay (A1)
continue to be in a place

stay out of trouble (C2)
not get involved with something that will cause problems

stay together (B1)
continue to be with each other

5 uses of ‘sleep’

loses sleep over (something) (C2)
worries about (something)

sleeps through it (C1)
remains sleeping despite the noise

sleep (A1)
rest, in a natural state of unconsciousness

sleep (B2)
has enough beds for a particular number of people to sleep in

sleeping like a baby (C1)
sleeping very well

get some sleep (B1)
have a period of sleep

falls asleep (B1)
starts to sleep

didn’t sleep a wink (C2)
slept very badly

sleep on it (C2)
think about something before making a decision

5 uses of ‘see’

see (B2)
find out; assess the possibility of

see (A1)
notice with their own eyes

you see (C1)
let me explain

see how (C2) – believe (something is possible)

wait and see (C1)
wait until later to find out what will happen

see sense (C2)
realise he is wrong

sees red (C2)
gets angry

see (B1)

see eye to eye (C2)
agree with each other

5 uses of ‘keep’

keep away from (B2)
not go near (a person, place or thing)

keep (B1)

keeps him company (B2)
stays with him so he is not alone

keep his eyes open (C2)
be alert and attentive

keep (something) a secret (B1)
not tell anyone about (something)

5 uses of ‘get’

getting out of hand (C2)
becoming hard to control

get (A1)

gets underway (C2)

get (A2)

get to (B2)
have the opportunity to (do something)

get away (B2)

get worse (B1)
become more unpleasant

get off (A2)
leave a vehicle

get through (C1)
survive a bad experience

getting up to (something) (C2)
being involved in; doing

5 uses of ‘come’

come into (C2)
received or found (something)

coming across as (C1)
behaving like

comes (A1)

comes up with (B2)
thinks of (an idea or plan)

come with (A1)

come to the rescue (C2)

yet to come (B2)
going to happen

comes to light (C2)
is revealed

come naturally (C1)
is very easy

5 uses of ‘cry’

a far cry from (C1)
very different to

cry (A2)
produce tears from her eyes

a shoulder to cry on (C2)
a person who listens to your problems and gives you sympathy

cries (B1)
says loudly

cry your eyes out (C2)
get very upset and cry a lot

crying out for (C2)
really wanting or needing

for crying out loud (C2)
(said to express anger)

crying out (C2)
shouting in fear or pain

5 uses of ‘go’

go shopping (A1)
visit shops to buy things

go downhill (C2)
become worse

it goes without saying (B2)
it is obvious

go to (A2)

go into detail (B2)
talk about all the facts

goes by (B2)

to go (C1)

go without (C1)
not have something that you need or usually have

touch and go (C2)

give it a go (B2)
try something

goes (B1)

go with (B1)
match; look good next to

10 uses of ‘catch’

catching (B2)
touching; reflecting on

catch my breath (C1)
take a short rest

caught off guard (C2)

catches sight of (C1)
suddenly sees

catch hold of (B2)
grab; seize

catch his death (C2)
develop a severe cold or chill

4 uses of ’touch'

touch and go (C2)
uncertain; with a risk of not succeeding

a touch (C2)
a small amount

touched (B2)
emotionally affected

touches (B1)
puts his hand on

4 uses of ‘right’

right (B1)

in her own right (C2)
not relying on anything or anyone else

right (B1)
most suitable

right (B2)
morally acceptable

right through (C2)
all the way

has no right (C1)
does not have a good reason

do the right thing (B2)
take action that is morally correct

right away (B1)


4 uses of ‘with’

travelling with (A1)
taking (something) on a journey

with (B1)
on; to

with (B2)
because of

with bated breath (C2)
anxiously; nervously

with (B2) REPEAT
because of

12 uses of ‘out’


out (C1)
a long way from home

set out (C1)
begin an attempt

out of (B1)
from an amount or number

out of his mind (C2)
unable to deal with things normally because of something bad

get out (B1)
become known

find out (A1)

out (A1)
not at home

out (B1)

out (B1)
available to everyone

sets out (C2)
begins (a journey)

gives out (B2)
makes; produces

left out (B2)
not included