Tricky words: adjectives

Powered by RedCircle

Hello and welcome to Learn English Vocabulary. My name is Jack and I’m making this podcast for you to learn or revise English vocabulary. 

These podcasts are graded from A2 which is around lower intermediate all the way to C2 which is advanced. 

I hope you find these podcasts useful. If you do, please leave me a rating and a review as this will help other learners find these podcasts.  


This podcast is B1 which means that it should be good for intermediate learners. Today, I’m going to look at some tricky words, that is, some words that learners often make mistakes with. There is a pattern to these words so this podcast is a bit like grammar, but I think it’s still mostly vocabulary.

Bored vs boring

I’m going to start this by describing the word boring. Now, we use boring to talk about something that is not interesting. More than that, it’s so uninteresting that it produces a negative feeling that’s a bit like tired, but for your mind. If something is boring, it’s really hard to concentrate on without daydreaming or going to sleep. When I was a child, I was really aware of this feeling, especially in school. The word for the feeling is boredom and when you experience it, you say you are bored. These days, I rarely get the chance to experience boredom, I can’t remember the last time I was really bored – perhaps it was on a long flight. 

When you are experiencing boredom, perhaps because you are watching a sport you don’t like on TV, you can say, I am bored. This sport is boring. However, this is something that learners often get the wrong way around.

When I was teaching in Italy, I had a class of teenagers. Many of these teenagers did not have much enthusiasm for learning English and they weren’t interested in the materials I was using to teach them. These kids would say to me; Mr Jack, I am boring. 

This was a mistake, they meant to say, I am bored. But I was quite happy to agree with them.

The rule

So, we use the verb -ing adjective form to describe something and the verb -ed adjective form to say how we feel. Let’s have a look at some more examples.

Embarrassed vs embarrassing

Last week, I took my son to a birthday party. When I dropped him off, I picked him up and gave him a big cuddle and kiss on his nose. When I put him down, he turned around and saw that some of his friends were laughing at him and he went so red. 

In this situation, who was embarrassed and who was embarrassing?

Well, my son was embarrassed. He was the one who felt embarrassed and I was the person that made him feel that way. I was embarrassing, this is a massive perk of being a dad. 

Frightening vs frightened

I went to the cinema to see a horror film from Japan about a haunted house. At the end of the film, half the audience had sweaty palms. Was the film frightened or frightening?

The film was frightening. The audience was frightened. Not me, of course, ahem.

Confused and confusing

When I was at university, I had a friend from Sweden called Bjorn. One night, we were in a pub and we met two other people from Sweden. When I told them that Bjorn was from Sweden, they tried talking to him in Swedish, but all he would say was ja, ja, ja. They were convinced that he was actually an American pretending to be Swedish. I spent a long time trying to persuade them that he was really from Sweden, but all Bjorn would say was ja, ja, ja. Bjorn had a strange sense of humour. He was really confusing. I think he was a little confused as well.

Quiz time 

OK – I’m going to finish with a quick quiz. You have to say what the correct form is.

Number 1. Excite – I love roller coasters. They are so … exciting.

Number 2. Fascinate – Mr. Spock, the first officer of the Starship Enterprise thought that strange alien life was … fascinating.

Number 3. Interest – There’s a documentary about time travel on Netflix. Are you … interested.

Number 4. Terrify – My mate Dan used to drive a really fast mini – it was … terrifying. 

Number 5. Astonish – My old friend has lost so much weight. When I saw him last week I was … astonished.

Dan’s terrifying mini


OK – so there you have lots of verb -ed and verb -ing adjectives that you can use to describe how you feel by using the verb -ed adjective form and the thing that makes you feel that way by using the verb -ing adjective form.

If you have enjoyed this podcast, please leave me a comment or a review and don’t forget that you can read the transcript for this podcast and complete some language activities on

Thanks for listening.

Show CommentsClose Comments

1 Comment

  • Majid
    Posted 09/12/2021 at 8:19 am

    Thanks, Jack!

Leave a comment

I accept the Privacy Policy