Connotative Words: Other Ways to Say Friend

friendHowdy! It’s almost April and you’re surely meeting up with friends, relatives and loved ones to celebrate Spring. But human relationships are complex and some relations grow deeper than others. That’s why our Connotative Words Series episode today will discuss other ways to say friend.

People who are not total strangers, but we wouldn’t turn to in case of trouble, are acquaintances. Among them are our neighbors (UK neighbours) ‑people living nearby‑ our peers or fellows ‑ those equal to us in range, occupation, age, abilities, etc.‑, and our associates and colleagues ‑ people we have deals or work with. Modern life also demands us to have connections people we know who can help us

…But wait! Those aren’t real friends, are they? Not really. We will usually be friendly with them, but little or not at all intimate or close. So, what about those people we care about? Aren’t there any other ways to say friend?

Sure there are! Your closest friend is your chum, buddy, musketeer, compadre, or best mate (although that last one is mainly used in the UK). They’re your alter ego if both share most opinions, feelings and likes. They’re your kindred spirit when they have similar interests and concerns than yours; and they’re your soulmate if they fully understand you as well.

Your very best friend is your boon companion or bosom buddy (also bosom friend,bosom pal).Close friends are called brother, sister, pal, mate (again, mostly in the UK) or amigo. Friends from past battles (especially from the military) are called comrades(or in the UK comrades-in-arms).

A trusted friend you tell your secrets to is your confidant (female confidante). An office spouse or work spouse is an opposite-sex friend from work that you’re close to, but not in a sexual manner.

Our group of friends can be called the gang, the company, the band, the crowd, the boys, the girls, the lads or the guys.

That does it for today. Don’t miss our next post, and visit our homepage for further practice with these and other Connotative Words.

Speak English Like an Australian: Vital Australian Slang

australiaIf you are headed Down Under there are a few expression you must know before you go so we are dedicating this entry in our Speak English Like an Australian series to the most vital Australian slang.


Mate is an informal word for friend and it is common to hear ‘G’day mate’ in Australia. This expression is seen as being friendly and represents equality. Men particularly use the word ‘mate’ amongst male friends or when passing another male on the street and casually acknowledging them. Women hardly ever say mate, but they may say it to their male counterparts.

The term mate also can mean dude, man or buddy.


A: What are you doing tomorrow? Want to go to the skate park?

B: Yeah sure, mate. See ya then.

Note: Don’t say ‘G’day Mate’ to a woman. Ever.

Fair dinkum

The term ‘fair dinkum’ can be used in a few different ways depending on the context of the conversation.

  1. Fair dinkum means true or genuine
    A: Peter is a fair dinkum guy. He’ll help you out.
  2. Fair dinkum is also used to assess whether someone is being genuine or not.
    A: I saw a shark down at Rainbow beach this morning!
    B: Are you fair dinkum?
  3. Fair dinkum can also be used to express surprise or question something someone is telling you.
    A: I sold my house and quit my job. I’m moving up north!
    B: Fair dinkum!?

Note: In this example, fair dinkum means: ‘Are you for real?’ or ‘are you serious?’

How ya goin’? 

This literally means ‘How are you?’ Australians are known for shortening their words and abbreviating everything and this is a perfect example. In this case, ‘ya’ is said instead of you and ‘goin’ is used instead of saying going. This expression also has nothing to do with going somewhere.

Alternatively, you may also hear the expression ‘How are you doing’? or ‘How’s life’?

If you want a little more practice before your trip be sure to visit our mainpage!

School Vocabulary about Nicknames

bookwormKids will be kids so, of course, they will call each other names from time to time. Good, bad, or ugly, in this entry we discuss school vocabulary about nicknames.

bookworm – someone who reads a lot

  • Jeremy is such a bookworm! I mean, he uses his library card more than his metro card!

eager beaver – someone who is extremely excited to start work on (or be involved in) a project

  • Woah, hold on a second! Don’t be such an eager beaver – you still haven’t read the instructions!

teacher’s pet – a student who is constantly seeking positive affirmation or attention from the teacher

  • The teacher’s pet is often accused of being a “suck-up” but that term is considered fairly rude.

Note: Another, related, term is to brown nose (noun: a brownnoser), but this, too, is considered rude.

copycat – a generally playful term used to describe someone who reproduces the work (or actions) of others

  • Marcy is such a copycat; the minute I got a new backpack, she got one exactly like it.

tattletale – the name given to students who always report events back to authority figures

  • Don’t be such a tattletale; no one else needs to know about the fight!

wise guy – the name give to someone who acts as if he or she knows everyone (and is often rude about it)

  • Every class has a wise guy; sometimes he the class clown, other times he is a major teacher’s pet.

Note: Similar phrases like smart aleck and know-it-all are also common but have slightly different connotations.

bully – a mean-spirited person who enforces his or her will by the use of violence or other cruelty

  • Every school has a bully but not every child needs to be a victim!

To be better prepared for school be sure to visit our dedicated school vocabulary page!

English Proficiency in Latin America Remains Low

latin americaThe recently released English Proficiency Index (EPI) from English First (EF) reveals that English Proficiency in Latin America remains low. This is particularly important as most countries in the region see English as a catalyst for economic development, and policymakers have made education reforms a top priority.

EF’s index ranks 70 world countries and territories ‑ fourteen of them in Latin American ‑ according to their English language proficiency. The regional leader, Argentina, ranks 15th place in the world and is the only country in the region considered to have a high proficiency level. Second place, the Dominican Republic, is 24th in the world and earns only “moderate” proficiency. The other 12 countries in the region fall into the low and very low proficiency categories. The region’s top-five is rounded out by Peru (35th), Chile (36th) and Ecuador (38th). Here is an overview of some of the region’s current initiatives:

  • Despite its relatively low results, Chile is a top performer in the region on most international education assessments. Its “English Opens Doors” program was among the earliest language training initiatives in Latin America, recruiting and training over 2,000 volunteer-teachers, hosting full-immersion camps and supporting professional development for local educators. Its work is clearly incomplete, however, and President Bachelet, re-elected in 2014, tasked the program to reach a thousand schools and raise the number of speakers.
  • Although Panama missed the top five, the country showed an impressive index improvement, jumping from 56th place in 2013 to its present 48th. Its current efforts includes local and overseas teacher training, additional lessons in English for elementary students and after-school classes for secondary schoolers. It hopes to produce 10,000 bilingual teachers and 260,000 bilingual students over the next four years.
  • Mexican adults remain low-proficiency users, despite the country’s economic and social ties to neighboring US. The government launched an initiative in 2014 aiming to send 100,000 students to the US for short-term intensive courses by 2018.
  • Brazil has launched several programs to improve English skills in recent years and the results have been encouraging. Its “Languages without Borders” program, for example, prepares students for graduate studies abroad and includes English and seven additional foreign languages. Nevertheless, it has yet to expand the number of competent speakers in the workforce.

In sum, then, these efforts illustrate that the governments of the region recognize English as the primary international language and there the need to strengthen English education systems in order to provide their citizens with opportunities in the global economy.