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Expand your Vocabulary: Different ways to express speech, hearing & seeing

In this article, we will be learning about how to expand our vocabulary in accordance with the Primary 5 English grade. We will branch out into three different kinds/categories of words. This will help you in writing, not only in your school compositions but also in real life. 

The different ways to express yourself are:

  • Speech (Talking) - Different ways of speaking 
  • Hearing - Different ways to express hearing 
  • Seeing - Different ways to express seeing


Let’s study the various words that people use when talking.

What changes when people talk?

  • Speed changes when people talk. 
    • If you were to speak to a child, you would probably go slower. This is because young children are not as fluent in the language. 
  • Volume changes when people talk. 
    • Observe how you speak when you are in the library vs when you are in the stadium. The volume at which we talk will be lower in the library and higher in the stadium. 
  • Tone of voice is how people figure out whether you are angry or upset.
    • Sometimes you might be speaking with someone on the phone. You might ask them “Is everything okay? You sound upset”. This can be due to the tone of the voice being either high or low. 
    • If you are monotonous, this means that you are talking in one tone. 
  • Force is the emphasis on the words. 
    • For example, if you say “Mr Fawas, is Okie a boy or girl? He would reply saying, “Okie is a cat”, emphasising on the “cat”. 

So, remember the following points when you’re writing about your characters talking:

  1. Use the appropriate voice, so that your readers can hear it. This way, your story will come alive in their minds. 
  2. Use a realistic emotion. When you have a character saying something, put yourself in the situation and think about how you would react in your ordinary life. 
  3. Stop trying too hard! Do not be too determined to use big words. 

Consider different messages

“I like vegetables”, he blurted

Here, the speaker is speaking out quite suddenly (blurting out) that he likes vegetables. 

“I like vegetables”, he whispered

Here, the speaker is saying quietly that he likes vegetables. 

“I like vegetables”, he insisted

Here, the speaker is emphasising that he likes vegetables. 

“I like vegetables”, he admitted 

Here, the speaker is admitting that he likes vegetables. 

Practice questions

Question 1:

Which word is best used when someone is admitting to something they have kept hidden?

  1. Declared 
  2. Confessed 
  3. Yelled
  4. Subvocalised 


(2) Confessed


When you keep something hidden, it is a secret and you confess it. 

To declare is to announce. 

To yell is to shout and you do not have to feel secretive to yell. 

To subvocalize is to speak softly to oneself. 

The answer is 2) Confessed.

Question 2:

“So, as you all know, the transfers were made-”

“Wait. Transfers?” 

Samuel __________

  1. reminded
  2. announced 
  3. whispered 
  4. interjected 


(4) interjected


Interjecting is to interrupt in the middle of a conversation. For example, if you are at home, and say “I got it”, that is not an interjection. But if you are in a meeting, and someone says “Hang on”, that is interjecting or interrupting.

The answer is 4) interjected.

Question 3:

“I don't have time for the likes of you, you dithering, pattering, imbecile!” 

Robert __________, his face a worrying shade of purple and the floor in front covered in specks of his saliva. 

  1. yodelled 
  2. shrieked 
  3. spat
  4. hummed 


(3) spat


It means that Robert was shouting in a forceful way to the point that his saliva was covering the floor in front of him.

The answer is (3) spat.

Dictionary time!

  • Dithering (verb): indecisive (in behaviour)
  1. After all her dithering, Salmah ended up choosing not to buy anything.
  2. Quit dithering and choose already!
  3. We’re still dithering over whether to move to Mars or not
  • Pattering: quick idle chatter/can mean shallow and insincere intentions
  1. The old lady pattered on as her husband stared at her in boredom, his coffee mug nearly empty. 
  2. Quit pattering, I’m trying to concentrate. 
  3. All the villagers fell for the charming salesman’s patter. 
  • Imbecile: foolish/stupid person 
  1. That was an imbecile thing to do. 
  2. I’m sorry for calling you an imbecile. I did not see the wisdom behind your actions then. 
  3. Hit the left switch. Not that, that’s a carrot, you imbecile!

Question 4:

“Rise and shine boys, breakfast is ready!” 

Mother_________ cheerily from the kitchen. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes and got heavily to my feet. 

  1. sang 
  2. said
  3. exclaimed 
  4. whined 


(1) sang


It means that someone is talking with a melody or tune to their words.

The answer is (1) sang.


There are some subtle differences when it comes to words related to hearing. Let’s do some Bubble Questions to understand better.

Question 5:

“Stop repeating yourself, Huda. I got it the first time.” 

“Dan, please. You ______ but you didn’t _________.” 

  1. heard …listen 
  2. listened … heard 


(1) heard…listen


Dan heard it but did not pay attention.

The answer is 1) heardlisten

Question 6:

I __________ some voices, yes, but I wasn’t __________ what they were saying. Sorry. Wish I could’ve been of more help!

  1. heard … listening to 
  2. listened to…hearing 


(1) heard…listening to


To hear is to know that there are sounds but to listen is to pay attention.

The answer is 1) heard…listening to.

Question 7:

Giselle pretended to read her book whilst she tried to __________ on the conversation of the couple beside her. 

  1. catch 
  2. hone in 
  3. leavesdrop 
  4. eavesdrop 


(4) eavesdrop


Giselle is pretending to read and is hiding her intentions of listening in on the couple. She pretends not to be a busybody.

The answer is 4) eavesdrop.

Question 8:

“Alright, that was a long list. Did you __________ everything?”

  1. obtain 
  2. catch 
  3. hear
  4. acknowledge 


(2) catch


The word catch indicates whether the information has been understood or received.

The answer is (2) catch


Question 9:

From his hiding spot, the detective __________ the suspects go about their business. He took copious notes and left out nothing. 

  1. sighted
  2. analysed
  3. observed 
  4. saw 


(3) observed


To observe is to watch closely and take note of things, situations, or people. 

The answer is (3) observed. 

Question 10:

From behind the blinds, I caught a __________ of the strange old wizard that strolled about the town occasionally. 

  1. sight
  2. glimpse
  3. scene 
  4. mirage 


(2) glimpse


The blinds act like curtains and not everything can be seen clearly, which is why you can only catch a glimpse or partial view of something.

The answer is a (2) glimpse. 

Question 11:

This fabric contains designs too small and too fine for the naked eye to __________. 

  1. perceive
  2. notice 
  3. acknowledge 
  4. receive 


(1) perceive. 


To perceive is to notice or make out. When you perceive something, you can see it clearly.

The answer is 1) perceive. 

Question 12:

If I had __________ you there, I would’ve said hi!

  1. see
  2. saw
  3. seen
  4. seed


(3) seen


Both the actions in the statement happened in the past, so you need to use the past participle. Seen is the past participle of see.

The answer is (3) seen. 


The article deals with ways to expand your vocabulary. We have learnt about various kinds of words across three categories:

  • Speech
  • Hearing 
  • Seeing 

We practised several questions to gain a better understanding of the words in these three categories. The examples and details included in the article are as per the Primary 5 English syllabus. 

Continue Learning
Synthesis & Transformation: Reason Relative Pronouns: Who, Whom & Whose
Vocabulary: Synonyms & Word Substitution Pronouns: Demonstrative, Possessive & Reflexive
Editing: Sharpening Your Understanding Synthesis & Transformation: Reported Speech
Verbs: Modals & Interrogatives Synthesis & Transformation - Active And Passive Voice
Character Development: ALTOS & Creating A Memorable Character Grammar Cloze - Revision
Expand Your Vocabulary: Different Ways To Express Speech, Hearing & Seeing Comprehension & Question Tags
The Difference in Some Clozes Perfect Tense & Common Tense Errors
Interrogative Words & Modal Verbs Prepositions - All Types
Comprehension - Factual Questions Simple, Perfect And Continuous Tenses
Resources - Academic Topics
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