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What does “core” mean?

The word “core” has four meanings: 1). the center part of certain types of fruit, 2). the center or the most important part of something, 3). the central part of a planet, that which is in the middle, 4). relating to inflation, sudden and temporary price changes.

For our purposes here we are interested in the first two meanings. The first one refers to fruit as in the following examples. “Usually we don’t eat the core of apples.”  “The core is tough and contains the seeds.” “You will need to core the pear before eating it.”

The second one refers to that which is most important, as in the following examples. “Students must take core classes before they can graduate.”  “We need to get to the core of the problem before we can solve it.”

Word Family

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core classes, core values, down to the core, at its core

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tend to

When we use words such as always and never, we often find ourselves in a position that is hard to defend.  Instead of writing sentences like, “Traffic is always heavy between 8th and 6th street,” we should write, “Traffic tends to be heavy between 8th and 6th street.”


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How do I use “project” as a verb?

We usually use the word “project” (noun:ˈpräjˌekt) as a noun, meaning something that is carefully planned to achieve a goal. The students were assigned a research project.

But we can also use “project” (verb: prəˈjekt) as a verb meaning to predict or forecast something based on present trends. Based on the current rate of spending, we can project the final cost will be between four hundred to four hundred and fifty dollars.



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What does “presume” mean?

AWL (Academic Word List)

presume = suppose something to be true based on past knowledge or experience

  • “You have been in the office all day.  I presume you have the project finished.”
  • “Everyone has already gone home.  I presume all the doors are locked.”
  • “I am using the company car to go to Chicago.  I presume it is in the garage.”

Word Families

presume (v),  presumption (n), presumptuous, presumptive (adj) presumably (adv)

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Vocabulary Words

College Writing: Vocabulary List

capacity | decline | diverse | contrast | interact

capacity = the maximum amount that something can hold

Examples: The seating capacity in the auditorium is 560.  

Word Families: capacity (n)

Collocations: filled to capacity, maximum capacity

decline = become fewer or less

Example: The birthrate continues to decline

Word Families: decline (v), decline (n), declining (adj)

Collocations: decline in years, declining economy

diverse = variety, things that are very different

Example: The campus was diverse in language and culture.

Word Families: diverse (adj), diversely (adv)

Collocations: a diverse group, diverse culture

contrast = something that is very different from something else

Example: There is a contrast between city and country living.

Word Families: contrast (v), contrast (n), contrastive (adj), contrastingly (adv)

Collocations: contrast between, in contrast to / with, compare and contrast

interact = act in a way to affect something else

Example: It was easy to interact with the new computer program.

Word Families: interact (v), interactive (adj), interactively (adv)

Collocations: interact with

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What does “placebo” mean?

A placebo is a pill, medicine, or a procedure that has only psychological effects on a patient.  In other words, doctors may prescribe a placebo to a patient when they do not need actual medicine, but the patient believes they need medicine to survive or heal.

Placebos are also used in control groups when experimenting with new drugs.

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Collocation are words that we normally use together.  We can say that they “like each other.” For example, we normally use the word “sufficient” with time or money.  “There wasn’t sufficient money to cover the accident.” Or, “The students didn’t have sufficient time to finish the test.”  When we use collocation in our essays, our writing becomes stronger and more readable.

Below is a list of more frequently used collocation.

  • full life
  • simple device
  • practical approach
  • limited resources
  • status symbol
  • course requirements
  • tentative schedule
  • impressive display
  • stressful job
  • preceding year
  • tough decision
  • random sample
  • predominant feature
  • free time
  • diminishing returns
  • strong desire
  • access code
  • public domain
  • without constraints
  • core values
  • sound judgement
  • ample supplies
  • political bias
  • bulk rate
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indicate (v)

From the Academic Word List

If I am giving someone directions on how to get to a certain place, and that person nods their head, that person gives me an indication they understand.


Indication means to give a sign or a signal, or to show something is true.

Word Family

indicate (verb), indication (noun)


  • He indicated with his eyes that he understood the message.
  • There was no indication that the company was going to close.  On the contrary, there was every indication they would continue their business.
  • Sneezing, a runny nose, and a sore throat are all indications someone has a cold.