Improve your Vocabulary: Stop saying VERY!


"Getting from here to there, it's been a long while."

Oh, hi.

My time is finally here.

James from engVid.

I can't believe this, this is like the Mirror Universe.

If you watch Star Trek, you'll understand; if not, go watch Mirror Universe with Star


I have two, look at them, I have two Mr. Es.

In the first one Mr. E is hot, and the first one Mr. E is cold.

Let's go to the board.

E, what's up?

"It's very hot.

35 degrees centigrade."

You're right.

I see you're wearing your Bermuda shorts.

And the second E is saying he's very cold: "It's minus 30 degrees centigrade."

Ow, this isn't good.

I feel for you.

But don't you think there are better ways to say it's very hot or it's very cold?

I think so, and in today's lesson I'm going to teach some of you...

Not some of you.

I'm going to teach all of you how to get rid of the word "very" to describe everything,

and use other words which give more information, which will make you sound more like a native

speaker and make your writing phenomenal.

Oh, "phenomenal"?

That's a word for "very good".

Are you ready?

Let's go to the board.

So, today's lesson is on "very".

"Very" is a very good word, that's why we use it, but when you're writing, to hear somebody

say: "Very, very, very, very, very, very, very, very" is what we call monotonous, it

means "mono" as one, "tonous", one tone, one sound - very boring.

So let's change that from you being...

You know, using "very" because I teach and I notice a lot of students saying things,

like: "Teacher, today it's very cold outside."

I'm like: -"Yeah, it is."

-"And I'm very tired and very hungry."

I'm like: "Okay, okay."

It's like being punched in the face again and again, and I just want to say: "Stop with

the 'very'.

Use a different word."

But it's not fair because "very" is a very good word-there, I did it again-we just need

to find other words to make your language sound richer to improve it so you sound more

like a native English speaker, and to make it more interesting for you because it will

express more of who you are and your ideas in a better way.

It makes you unique.

You ready?

Let's go to the board.

You'll notice I put "very" in red because this is something we don't want to do, we

don't want to keep saying: "very".

We want to change that up.

And I'm going to give you a list of words that people or students usually say when they

say "very" that I've heard many, many times.

And maybe you've done this.

And today I'm going to give you singular words to use instead.

I'll explain them, just in case they're difficult.

Let's start with the first one.

People say: "Very rude", instead of saying that, you can say: "vulgar".

"Vulgar" means very rude, and if somebody says to me: "Your language is vulgar", I'll

probably stop talking because it means it's not right, it's inappropriate, it's very bad.


"I don't like your vulgar tone", your rude tone.

It's strong.

"Very short", another word we say is "brief", which means small.

We had a very brief...

We had a very brief conversation, a very short conversation.



When you say: "Class was very boring today", you can say: "dull".

"Dull" means very boring.

It also means... See?

Here's a bonus when you use these words, stupid.

If you say someone is dull, you can say they're very boring, or dull meaning they're stupid.

Don't use it like that too often; people don't like being called stupid.

And if you say: "He's rather dull, isn't he?"

I have to listen for context to mean stupid or boring.

Next one, everybody's favourite: "Very good".

"Teacher, the food is very good.

The lesson is very good.

I like this, it's very good."

Why don't we change that to the word "superb"?

Look carefully at the word "superb", you have the word "super" written inside it.

"Super" means what?

Above average, excellent, or superb, very good.

"The food was superb."

People don't usually use this word, so if you tell me when I cook for you that it's

superb, I'm telling you right now I will take that as such an amazing compliment.

Gentlemen, if you tell a woman she looks superb, she'll be like: "Thank you.


Because no one says it.

All right?

"Freezing", you can say: "It's very cold outside", but in minus 35, it's freezing.

I can put meat outside and it will turn to ice, it's freezing, that's how cold it is.

And if you tell me it's freezing, I'm going to get a jacket and another coat, and a hat,

and a scarf because I know it's very, very cold.

You don't have to say: "It's very, very cold today."

Say: "It's freezing."

Next, here's a nice word, this is what we call a $10 word.



Even when you say it, there's: "Arr, arr".

When you're ravenous, you're not hungry.

If you walk into a restaurant and say: "I'm ravenous", they will get all the cooks together

and start cooking right away, immediately, knowing that they have to feed you because

you'll eat everything.

You can use this about l'amour, the love.

"I'm ravenous for l'amour.

I love it.

I'm hungry for it.

I want it desperately."

It's a great word.

You can be ravenous about reading, it means: "I want to eat it and take all of it."

Nice word, I like this word, even the: "Arr", it's so sexy.



In the morning when I get up I move very slowly, you know?

Like, real, word, if you're in Toronto the TTC is rather sluggish in the morning.

You know what I'm saying?

You're always late.

It means very slow.

But in the morning I'm usually sluggish, I'm moving slow, you know?

Slow, sluggish, like a slug, like a bug.


His sluggish reaction.

Slow reaction.

This one has an asterisk: "Very fast", when something's very fast.

I read many of your comments and it's like: "He speaks: 'Blah-blah-blah-blah'.

He speaks so quickly, so rapidly.

I don't understand anything."

Yes, James is a rapid speaker.

I speak very quickly or I speak very fast.

They moved quickly or you say they moved at a rapid pace, very quickly, very fast.

So, instead of saying: "Very quickly, very fast", you can use the word: "rapid" or "rapidly".



You can say: "rapidly".


I told you I'm going to give you lots of information so you can really change up your vocabulary

and sound amazing.

Sound superb.

When you're tired, you're coming home from work, you can say: "I'm so tired.

I'm very, very tired.

I'm always very tired."

Use the word "exhausted".

That means done, finished, totalled, toast, no more.

I'm exhausted.


It means you want to go to sleep now.

Or if you're exhausted of this conversation, then no more, I can't do any more, I'm done,

it's over.

"Poor", a lot of people like to use the word "poor".

Most native speakers don't even use the word I'm going to teach you because it's so strong.

If you say: "I'm very poor" it means I have no money.

If I'm destitute, you live on the street, my friend, you eat with the rats.


You and the rats share Kentucky Fried Chicken out of garbage at night.

All right?

I'm just saying.

But if you say: "I'm destitute", it means: "I'm very poor."

You want to remember this word for the next time your English friend says: -"Hey, Jimmy.

Can I borrow 5 dollars?"

-"Sorry, dude.

I'm destitute."

He will give you 5 dollars and be like: "I didn't know it was so bad.

You're so poor, you're destitute?"

It means my house is...

I live on the street.

My house, I have nothing.

I'm destitute.

After the divorce, most people are destitute.

Don't get divorced.

Okay, next.

"Rich", "very rich".

I know, students love to: "I'm studying English because one day I hope to be very, very rich.

I'm telling you I'm going to be rich.

You know?

I'm going to be very rich."

And I go: "You want to be rich?

I want to be wealthy."

And they say: "Teacher, what's the difference?

'Very rich' means I have everything."

So I say: "Okay, so, you know Michael Jordan?"

They go: "Yes, yes, he's a very rich man", I go: -"Yeah, he's very rich."

-"They pay him millions of dollars."

I go: "Yeah, yeah, yeah."

I say: "I want to be the man who pays Michael Jordan -- that guy's wealthy."

Sudden silence, and then their vocabulary changes instantly: "I would like to be wealthy,

yes, I think it would be superb to be wealthy.

In fact, I'm looking for a rapid change in my environment so I can become wealthy."

I go: "Oh, you understand."

Change your vocabulary, change your brain, change your life.


Okay, anyway, before I go on that, I don't want to become dull going over the same points

again and again.

I'm going to try to keep it brief, okay?

Ah, I do want to talk about one difference here, that's why I have it.

We talked about hot, "scalding" and "scorching", they're not quite the same.

These both mean very hot, but usually we use "scolding" for liquids, like water.


The water is scolding, it will burn you it's so hot.

And we say "scorching" for hot for heat like the summer sun.

So you say, if the water...

If the coffee is scolding, it will burn you because it's a liquid; but it's scorching

outside, it's hot from the fire or the sun.

They're similar, it's just we use it a little differently.


You wouldn't probably say: "It's scolding outside."

People would go: "Huh?

Is there water that I'm going to step in?"

You go: "No, no, no.

It's scorching, very hot, 35 degrees.

But don't go and put your foot in the water, it's scolding.

It will burn you and send you to the hospital."


All right.

I'll see you in a second.


Okay, so if you're ready, I want you to pay attention.

Remember I taught you a lot of words, you know: "very happy", "very tired", and we're

going to see how well you understood it by two speeches that I have on the board.

And the first speech I'm going to read it to you and I want you to identify where I've

used "very" and another word together, like an adjective like "hot" or "cold", and tell

me where they are.

Because if you can't identify them, we can't fix them and use the new vocabulary.

You will probably also notice that the story seems or the speech seems very repetitive

as I keep saying "very, very", and why I said that, once we get rid of that word and use

other words, not only your writing because this is writing, but your vocabulary and speech

will seem much more natural and fluent.

Are you ready?

Let's go to the board.

Okay, so: "My name is Tiago."

By the way, Tiago is James in Brazil, so my Brazilian friends and the three Tiagos I've

met, how you doing?

Okay, so: "My name is Tiago.

I live in a very poor"...

Or, sorry.

"...a very poor part of Toronto.

I have to work long hours, so I am usually very tired.

My home has a very good view of the city, but my apartment is often very cold in the

winter and very hot in the summer.

I work hard so one day I will be very rich."

It's not a bad speech or story, but I would say that's about a grade 3 or grade 4, that's

children's classes in Canada.

You don't want to sound like that.

So why don't we add a few words, some seasoning, some masala?

Make it same thing, but now we'll sound much more interesting to the ear.

You'll notice you'll have to work a little harder with your vocabulary so you'll get

better at speech, and people will like what...

You know, like listening to you more.

Are you ready?

Now let's go to the board.

The first thing we're going to do is identify the parts that we want to change.

So, again, we go: "My name is Tiago", got it.

"I live in a very poor", see?

We have this and we did learn another word to say it for that.


What's the next one?

"I have to work long hours so I'm usually very tired", there's another one we want to


"My home has a very good view", oh, I think we've said two sentences and "very" three


Okay? "...but my apartment is often very cold in the winter and very hot"-there we go-"in

the summer.

And I work very hard because I..."

Or, sorry.

"I work hard because I want to be very rich."

That's a lot of them.

So, take a look and you can see how we use the word "very" a lot of times in a very small



Let's change it up now that we have identified what we want to change, and look for better


Well, I've taught you the better words, so why don't we just...?

Why don't we just put them in there?

You ready?

So the first part is: "My name is Tiago.

I live in a _________ poor part of Toronto."

What was the word we used for "very poor", almost homeless?

That's right: "destitute".

When you're destitute, you're very poor, so in this case: "I live in a very poor part

of Toronto".

"I have to work long hours, so I am usually _________..."

Another word for "very tired".

"Exhausted", that's right, I'm very tired, exhausted.

"My home has a _________ view of the city."

Do you know what my favourite...?

Well, my favourite hero is this guy here, the bat, but his best friend is who?

Ah, remember I told you, "superb"?

"Super" is in that word because it's super.

"A superb view of the city."

"...but my apartment is often _________ in the winter..."

What would it be in the winter?

Not "very cold"...

"freezing", it means very cold.

"...and in the summer _________..."

You have to be careful because I taught you two words, remember?

Both start with S. Which one would it be?

Not "scolding", but "scorching".

Scorching hot, scorching.

And finally, do you remember I told you the story about Michael Jordan and the man who

pays Michael Jordan, or the woman?

Oprah's rich, she can pay him, too.

I don't want to be a rich man, I want to be a wealthy man.

Now, if you look at the story now...

Let's read it.

"My name is Tiago.

I live in a destitute part of Toronto.

I have to work long hours, so I am usually exhausted.

My home has a superb view of the city, but my apartment is often freezing in the winter

and scorching in the summer.

I work hard because one day I want to be a wealthy man."

Sounds a little better, doesn't it?

Yeah, I thought so.


So, you...

You know me, I'm not doing this for free.

I have a bonus for you.

I'll teach you the bonus, but you notice that we can change the statement and make it much

more interesting, okay?

You're going to work your tongue to work on better pronunciation and vocabulary, saying

words like: "superb", "destitute", okay?

Much better than: "very", "very".

But as a bonus because I like you so much, I'm going to go through another five words.

Now, I call these level two words.

And you're saying: "Level two, what?"

Well, level two because these are words Canadians don't even use a lot of the time, so when

you pull out this word, let's say you're speaking like this, see?

And you say: "I'm rather jubilant about this situation", people will go: "What the hell?"

like that.

"You know, I'm very happy about what's going on here.

How are you feeling about it, huh?"

You know?

"I see you seem very anxious about what's going to go on, but don't worry, I'm rather


Could you please get me a beer?"

They're going to go: "Whoa.

Where's this person coming from, so educated, so eloquent?"

This will be you, so let's go to level two.

"Jubilant" means very happy.

If you're feeling jubilant, you're very happy.

I'm telling you right now: 90% of Canadians don't use this word at all.

They know it, but they don't use it.

How about you?

When you're very nervous, you're very nervous, you say: "anxious".

It means I'm waiting for something to happen and I feel very strongly about it in a nervous


"Parched", it's a nice word, use it at a bar.

You get points for that one.

"I'm rather parched", very thirsty.

The earth can be parched, and when you see the earth is parched there's usually holes

or cracks in the ground, it means it needs water.

You know where you put your flowers, and it's like cracks?

You say the water...

The earth is parched, it means it's extremely thirsty.

So, trust me, when you go to the bar and say: "parched", they'll get you drinks right away.

"Squalid", this means very dirty.

And believe me, if an English person walks in your house and says: "Your house is squalid"...

Let me rephrase that.

If an English person says your house is squalid, they will not walk in your house.

They might call people to come and take you out and take down the building.


So when you say that, someone might cry, you're like: "Your place is squalid and you live

in a destitute fashion."

I mean that's going to make me cry, because that's worse than saying bad words, trust



And if you...

If you have kids you can use this or if you're an employer at work, or you know, anyone's

getting on your nerves, you can say: "I need this place spotless before you go."

That's not just clean, that means nothing exists in that area; there's not germs, nothing.


Do you understand me?

Very strong.

All right?

So these are your bonus level two words, save them, put them in your back pocket for when

you have to correct some English speaker.


Show them you do speak English and you know it well.

Of course we have homework.

So, before you go, I want you to do this, I want you to think of five other "very" collocations,

because this is collocations, words that go with "very" that you use, and I want you to

share them on engVid.

Do you say: "very cheap", do you say: "very..."?

I don't know.

I don't know what you say, that's the whole point.

After you do the quiz there's usually comments, go there, leave a comment and say: "I use

these ones", and see what other people say, maybe they have another word that can help

you improve your English or maybe you'll surprise people, and maybe even someone like myself

will stop by and go: "Whoa, you can't say that.

You have to say that" or: "That's not even English."

Community is a good thing.

Anyway, I got to go.

I need you to subscribe, there's something around here, the "Subscribe" button, press


A bell should come up.

You know, a little bell?

Like Taco Bell.

Just ding that bell and you'll get the latest and greatest that comes out from engVid from

myself and other teachers.

You won't have to worry, it'll come on your cellphone, or your laptop, or what have you.

Anyway, you have a good one.

I have probably given you something to be jubulous about.


Jubilant about, and I'll see you soon.

Thanks a lot.