Viv's Vocabulary Database - Creating context sentences



Try to make sure that the context sentence clearly illustrates the word. If the word is 'cake', then "I like ******" may be true but it isn't useful to help you learn the word. A sentence like "There were candles on my birthday ****." is much better.


Where possible relate your context sentences to real life situations eg. If the word is 'brother' then "My *******'s name is Alan." will help you associate the word with a real person.

This technique is especially useful in the 'Describing people' and 'Birth, death, marriage & family' sections.


Position can also help you remember words eg. If the word is 'elbow' then "Your ***** is between your hand and your shoulder." or for 'phone box': "There's a ***** *** in my street near the cinema."


When you can, use other words in your Vocabulary Database to construct context sentences.

eg.       Word = "nail" - context sentence = "I needed a hammer and ****s to make the bookcase.

            Word = "hammer" - context sentence = "You can't use nails without a ******."


If a word has two meanings you can use both of them. However, don't repeat the 'Word' more than twice.

eg.       Word = "mean" - context sentence = "What do you ****? I don't think Hubert is ****!"


You can also use synonyms (words with the same meaning), antonyms (opposites) and descriptions.

eg.       Word = "wealthy" - context sentence = "******* means the same as rich."

eg.       Word = "cheap" - context sentence = "***** is the opposite of 'expensive'."

eg.       Word = "swan" - context sentence = "A **** is a big white bird which can swim."


Grammar & vocabulary practice

When possible, try to create context sentences which use the grammar you are studying in your English course, or would like to practice.

You can use possessive 's ', 3rd person 's', plurals and most future forms. and the past, passive and perfect forms of regular verbs in your context sentences. Only put the suffix in the context sentence.

eg.       Word = "baker's" - context sentence =            "We need some bread. I'll go to the *****'*."

            Word = "go" - context sentence =             "He always **es to the bank on Fridays."

            Word = "box" - context sentence =             "Shoes come in ***es."


Continuous tenses and gerunds can't be used if the verb ends in 'e' because the 'e' is dropped in the present participle. To get round this problem, use simple tenses or the infinitive.

eg.       Word = "make" - context sentence = "I'd like to **** a suggestion."


With regular verbs, you can use the past, passive and perfect forms in your context sentences. Only put the suffix in the context sentence.

However, if it's an irregular verb or ends in consonant + 'Y', you have to use the infinitive, present simple, future or a modal verb in your context sentence. You can also use gerunds or negative sentences.

eg.       Word = "build" - context sentence =            "I want to ***** my own house one day."

                                                                        "They never ***** houses on sand."

                                                                        "They are going to ***** a new motorway.

                                                                        "The government should ***** more cheap houses.

            Word = "study" - context sentence = "I'm *****ing English vocabulary at the moment.

                                                                        "I didn't ***** Japanese at school."




Most punctuation marks should be repeated in both the word and context sentence, with the exception of full stops and commas, which should only appear in the context sentence. When testing yourself, Viv's Vocabulary Database doesn't distinguish between upper and lower case letters. However, if they would be necessary in normal writing eg. nationality words or the first word in a sentence (see examples below), I recommend using them in the 'Word' - this will help you remember that they need a capital letter.

eg.       Word = "twenty-six" - context sentence = "******-***

            Word = "well-behaved" - context sentence = "Hubert's son isn't very ****-******."

            Word = "Where were you born?" - context sentence = "***** **** *** ****?"

            Word = "Stop it!" - context sentence = "**** **!"


            Word = "cinema" - context sentence = "Did you go to the ******?"