B1 Speaking Skills – 100 most annoying things poll

Last Monday we were discussing things that annoy us and looking at ways of expressing annoyance and frustration with the way things are.

This was the original list of the top 100 most annoying things according to British people interviewed in 2009:  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/picturegalleries/howaboutthat/6131208/The-100-most-annoying-things-poll.html

Useful language points to notice in the list:

1.  Relative pronouns:   who appears 13 times on the list.   when appears 5 times on the list.  that appears 3 times on the list.  Before checking the article, which of the relative pronouns will be used to talk about annoying situations refering to things, people and times?  Look and check.

Omission of the relative pronoun.  Compare the following examples: 

People who walk painfully slowly on the street. / Singers who mime. / People who can’t park properly.

People jumping the queue at the bar. / People driving close behind you.  / People addicted to watching soaps.

In the second group the relative pronoun + infinitive (without to) is replaced by a participle.   These are reduced versions of the clauses and are useful when writing concisely.

Try transforming the first group into reduced clauses and the second group into the longer version.  e.g.  (group one:  People walking painfully slowly… / group two:  People who jump the queue at the bar.)

2.  Adjective + noun collocations.  (From the top 10:  rude shop assistants / foreign call centres  /  slow internet connections  /  poor customer service).  Collect and record other adjective + noun combinations in the list.  Then, try and think of 3-5 other nouns that combine with that adjective…

 e.g.  rude:  shop assistants / language / customer / film /       foreign: call centre / food / currency / travel / …

If you want to check any ideas, post them below!

3.  Phrasal verbsRun out of (x 3) and break down both appear in the list.  In what context?  What’s the problem in each case?

Responses:  What about the list itself?  How many of the top ten are things that annoy you?  How do you think the top ten for people in Spain would be different from the British top 10?  Can you think of a top 5 of specifically Madrid-based annoying things?  Leave a comment below!

Other ideas for Writing:

  • Write a short story in which your hero or heroine suffers from lots of the  annoying things in the list.  What were the consquences for him/her?  How does your hero or heroine react?  Does he/she survive the day without losing his/her mind?  What does he/she learn from his experiences?
  •  Choose one of the annoying things and write a 10 line dialogue between two people, e.g. a dialogue between two people at the bar after one has just jumped the queue.


Filed under B1 Speaking Skills August 2010

2 responses to “B1 Speaking Skills – 100 most annoying things poll

  1. Erinia

    TOP 5 Madrid’s annoying things
    1. Poor tapas served with a beer
    2. People who pee at the street
    3. The works in the street at siesta time
    4. People pushing you at the exit door in the tube
    5. Streets which are blocked for a demostration or a parade

  2. Thanks for posting Erinia. I agree with you on 2 and 4. I forgot about the door push from people getting on to the train when you’re trying to get off. When I first got to Madrid I remember getting out of the carriage to let other people get off and then finding myself at the back of the queue to get back on and finding the carriage too full to fit into. Do you think tube etiquette is different in London?

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