Natural English: the suffix -ish

lovely-package-the-ish-watch2-ish‘ is definitively my favourite English suffix. I know what you’re thinking: ‘she must be a real grammar geek to have a favourite suffix’. You’re not wrong, I am indeed passionate about grammar¬†ūüôā

Anyway, I think that if you start getting into the habit of using ‘ish’ every now and then, your English will sound more natural. Here are some¬†situations where you could¬†use this suffix:

1- ish and numbers

What time shall we meet?


Used with numbers, -ish means ‘around‘. So not quite seven but around seven. The same is true when you talk about someone’s age: I think she’s fortyish but I’m not sure.

This is a good one if you don’t want to commit yourself too much and if you show up 20 minutes late, you could always say: ‘I said seven-ish not seven sharp!‘ and¬†if you don’t want to say¬†an exact time¬†you can go for ‘I’ll be home soonish‘.

2- ish and adjectives

What does she look like?

She’s blondish.

Used with adjectives, -ish means ‘fairly’ or ‘slightly’. So she’s not¬†super blond but she still falls into the category of blond. The same happens with colours: What colour is your dress? Bluish.

2- ish and nouns

What’s he like?

He’s childish¬†and boring.

Meaning that he behaves like a child. So if someone has got a girlish face, their face looks like that of a young girl.

Bear in mind that in a formal context the use of the suffix ‘ish’ could sound too colloquial.

Talk soon!
Deb ūüôā


Useful English: how to ask for directions

Fotolia_51071376_XS-300x199Whether you’ve just moved to London or are here only for few days, you’ve probably found yourself lost in the city at least once. And there¬†it comes: your chance to practise¬†your English! So stop checking on Google Maps and be brave, ask a¬†passer-by for directions ūüôā

How to do it? Here’s some useful language:


Let’s start easy:

…where is Victoria Station?
…is there a bank nearby?

‘nearby’ means ‘near here’.

…how can I get to Trafalgar Square?

Remember that get is followed by the preposition ‘to’ and not ‘at’:¬†how can I¬†get at¬†to Trafalgar Square?


Indirect questions usually sound more ‘polite’:

do you know where the station is?  
When asking indirect questions, remember that you need to invert the subject and the verb only once: do you know where  is the station is?

could you tell me where the station is?  

do you know how I can get to the station?

do you know¬†where I should get off? (useful when you’re on the bus / tube)

do you know whether/if there is an ATM nearby?

do you know the way to the National Gallery?

This structure is also possible: WHERE / HOW+ TO – INFINITIVE:

…can you tell me¬†how to get to the station?

…do you know¬†where to get off?¬†


or do you know how far it is?

Here are some possible answers to your question:

It’s walking distance.
It’s a five-minute walk.
It’s a good five-minute walk. >>¬†‘a good’ here means ‘probably a bit more than 5 mins’
It’s a bit of a walk¬†>> meaning: you can walk there but it’s a little far.
It’s pretty / quite far, you might want to take a bus there. >> ‘pretty’ and ‘quite’¬†here mean ‘not very far but still a bit too far to walk it’ and the expression ‘you might want’ is often used to give advice and it means ‘it would be better/good if’ or¬†‘you should’, here are more examples:

You might want to phone her before going there.
>> You should phone her before..

You might want to read this to get ready for your interview
>> It would be good if you read this to get..


Just to make sure that the place you’re trying to reach is not farther than you think, you might want¬†to ask how long it takes to get there:

How long does it take by bus?

It takes 10 minutes by bus. 
Rule: it takes + # minutes/hours/days etc  by + mean of transport (by car/bus/taxi/tube etc)

Notice that the structure ‘to take+someone+ time period+ to get somewhere’ is also possible:

How long does it take you to get to work? It usually takes me 30 minutes.

Hope it helps ūüôā
Talk soon,