Expressions using Themes (e.g. Collocations, IELTS, Business English)

Words That Are Nouns and Verbs

When a noun is used as a verb, this is called ‘verbing'. A lot of nouns have become verbs in the English language, and this 'verbing’ (sometimes called 'verbification') makes it easier for people to speak about performing actions related to nouns they are already aware of. Here are some everyday examples:


As well as sending mail, you can mail something to someone.

You can put salt on your meal, or you can salt the food, or the roads could be salted when the snow and ice comes.

You can cross the sea on a ship, or you can ship your products across the ocean, or soldiers can ship out to their latest posting.

Workers often go on strike, but you can strike a person or strike a bargain, or even strike it rich!

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In the table below, you can see many common examples of nouns spelled the same as their related verbs. The red text shows you which part of the words to emphasise when you are speaking:

conduct

conduct

attribute

attribute

combat

combat

conflict

conflict

contest

contest

contract

contract

decrease

decrease

escort

escort

impact

impact

increase

increase

insult

insult

object

object

permit

permit

present

present

proceed

proceed

progress

progress

project

project

rebel

rebel

refill

refill

refund

refund

reject

reject

subject

subject

suspect

suspect

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The following are examples of ‘verbing’ that will improve your Business English vocabulary:

Noun

Verb Forms

Example

Progress

  • We made a lot of progress yesterday

Progress - Progressed - Progressing

Noun: a progress report

  • Do you think you could progress any further today?

  • Things have progressed nicely. We should be finished soon.

  • How are you progressing with your work?

Project

  • This is the most significant project this company has worked on.

Projection

  • Quarterly projections indicate a downturn in profits.

Project - Projected - Projecting

  • Things are definitely looking up. We project a sharp rise in sales over the next six months.

  • The Marketing Department projected an 80% increase in website traffic.

  • Newspapers are projecting a fall in revenue for the corporation.

Action

  • The soldiers saw a lot of action in Afghanistan.

Action - Actioned - Actioning

  • We need to action this new ruling immediately

  • We have actioned the decisions made at last week’s meeting.

  • It is time we started actioning these plans. We made them a month ago!

Engineer

  • He qualified as an Engineer last year.

Engineer - Engineered - Engineering

  • If we change our approach, we can engineer an entirely different outcome.

  • The whole plot was engineered very well.

  • He was accused of engineering the entire criminal enterprise.

Tender

  • I did all the calculations and submitted my tender for the contract.

Tender - Tendered - Tendering

  • If you want to secure the contract, you’ll need to tender your proposal before the end of the month.

  • The failure of the project was my fault, so I felt I had no choice but to tender my resignation.

  • We had been looking to take over that company for a while, so as soon as we secured the necessary finance, we tendered an offer for it.

  • There was a delay in tendering my resignation, because the system was down and my email didn’t send!

Pepper

  • I added some salt and pepper to the meal to make it taste better.

Pepper - Peppered - Peppering

Expression: a salt and pepper beard - a beard with black and white through it

  • Please don’t pepper my steak. I don’t like peppered food.

  • The Editor found lots of errors peppered throughout the document.

  • They fired their automatic rifles at the building, peppering the walls with bullets.

Switch

  • Make sure you flick the switch before you leave. I don’t like the lights left on.

Switch - Switched - Switching

  • Switch the computers off when you’re finished.

  • We were spending too much in Shop A, so we switched to Shop B. Now we’re saving so much money!

  • I’m switching electricity suppliers next month. This one is far too expensive!

Sleep

  • I had a great sleep last night. I feel so refreshed today.

Sleep - Slept - Sleeping

Noun: a sleepover - staying the night in a (friend’s) house

  • I sleep better when it’s raining. I love the sound of it against the windows.

  • We slept outside under the stars. It was very romantic.

  • He got fired for sleeping at his desk. He was the least productive employee of all.

Train

  • I woke up early to catch the 6:30 train. I didn’t want to be late for my interview.

Train - Trained - Training

  • I train regularly to ensure I stay fit and healthy.

  • She trained under the best people in the country, so she was the best person for the job.

  • They started training their staff as soon as the new software was installed.

Stop

  • The police put a stop to anyone travelling to that country, to keep the spread of the virus down.

Stop - Stopped - Stopping

  • Every time I drive to my parents' house, I stop at the Motorway Services to pick up some doughnuts.

  • After months of rejection, he stopped asking the girl out for dinner. He was wasting his time.

  • I’m stopping (i.e. cancelling) my subscription to the TV service at the end of the month. I’m not happy with it.

Drink

  • Let’s go for a drink on Friday night. There’s a new band playing in the bar.

Drink - Drank - Drinking

  • I drink coffee every morning. It helps me wake up.

  • They drank so much wine at the wedding that the hotel ran out. The bill was enormous!

  • He was tired of drinking every weekend. His health was deteriorating rapidly.

Lure

  • It turned out that the cheap beer was just a lure to get people to buy more groceries.

Lure - Lured - Luring

  • The killer was said to lure his victims into his car.

  • She lured him to the party, but made a fool of him when he arrived.

  • The woman accused the man of luring her into his house.

Mutter

  • It was so hard to hear him because he spoke in a mutter.

Mutter - Muttered - Muttering

  • I always mutter to myself when I’m nervous. I think it helps me stay calm.

  • “When I’m in charge, I’ll show them what I can do,” he muttered.

  • When the teacher shouted at my daughter, she started muttering under her breath.

Dress

  • She wore a beautiful red dress to her prom.

Dress - Dressed - Dressing

Phrasal Verb: Dress(ing) up

Noun: A dressing down - a severe reprimand

  • Dress nicely if you’re going for that interview. The clothes make the man, they say.

  • Dressed in a pinstripe suit and wearing a gold watch, he looked like a bit of a gangster!

  • I don’t care what you’re dressing yourself in. Just hurry up and get ready!

Divorce

  • The children were so upset when they found out that their parents were getting a divorce.

Divorce - Divorced - Divorcing

  • I’ve decided to divorce myself from these proceedings. My services are no longer required.

  • His parents divorced when he was very young, but he still gets on well with both of them.

  • Nowadays, children talk about divorcing their parents. It’s ridiculous!

Fool

  • I don’t like that guy. I just think he’s a fool.

Fool - Fooled - Fooling

  • I think we could fool our boss by pretending we got that work done.

  • The blacked-out windows fooled me enough so that I slept late into the morning.

  • You’re not fooling anyone with your bravado. We know you’re afraid.

Contract

  • I don’t think you should sign that contract. The terms don’t look very good.

Contract - Contracted - Contracting

Contract - Contracted - Contracting

*Note that the emphasis on the syllable can vary, depending on accent. Pronunciation is optional.

Noun: a contract killing

  • I can’t take on any more work. I’m contracted to another company for the next six months.

  • My mother contracted malaria on her vacation, but she recovered.

  • If you don’t wear a mask, you risk contracting COVID-19.

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