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  Home > TEFL Clinic > Teaching Knowledge > Glossary


You should already be familiar with common functions such as asking, telling, replying, thanking and suggesting.

Appropriacy noun appropriate/inappropriate adj.: Language which is suitable or correct in a particular situation. See register.

Colloquial: Language used in informal conversations or writing.

Declining, refusing an invitation: To refuse or decline an invitation, e.g. I’m sorry but I can’t.

Enquiring: To ask for information, e.g. What time does the train leave?

Express: To show or make known a feeling or an opinion in words.

Expressing ability, e.g. I can swim.

Expressing intention, e.g. I’m planning to visit him next year.

Expressing necessity, e.g. He needs to get a new passport.

Expressing obligation, e.g. You must wear a seatbelt.

Expressing permission, e.g. Can I have a look at your book?

Expressing preference, e.g. I’d rather have coffee than tea.

Expressing probability, e.g. He should be in later.

Formal (language): see register.

Formality (level of): see register.

Function: The reason or purpose for communication, e.g. making a suggestion; giving advice.

Functional exponent: A phrase which is an example of a function and shows the purpose of the speaker, e.g. Let’s... . This phrase is one way to make a suggestion. It is an example (or exponent) of the function of suggesting. See function.

Greeting: To welcome someone, often with words, e.g. Hello, how are you?

Inappropriate: see appropriacy.

Informal (language): see register.

Informality (level of): see register.

Instructing: To order or tell someone to do something, e.g. Please turn to page 12 and do exercise 1.

Negotiating: To have a discussion with someone to reach an agreement, e.g. If you help me now, I’ll help you next week.

Neutral: A style of speaking or writing that is neither formal nor informal, but in-between. It is appropriate for most situations.

Predicting: To say what you think is likely to happen, e.g. I think the story will end happily.

Register: The formality or informality of the language used in a particular situation. Formal register or language is used in serious or important situations, e.g. in a job application. Informal register or language is used in relaxed or friendly situations, e.g. with family or friends.

Requesting, making a (polite) request: To ask someone politely to do something, e.g. Please could you open the window?

Speculating: To guess something, e.g. I think it might be an easy test.

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