Top Tips for IELTS


Today’s word of the day exercise is



Primary is obviously a key word for describing education as the first school you go to after kindergarten can be called a primary school. More generally, this set of words is useful for writing and discussing the relative importance of ideas. If something is of prime or primary importance, it is very important as prime means number 1.

Note too that prime is one of those English words that can be used as a noun, adjective or verb. The verb is an unusual word as it means to load a gun, but the noun may be useful for describing people’s age.

There is no major difference between the adjective forms prime and primary.

Forms of the word

prime: an adjective similar in meaning to principal

prime: a less common noun meaning to load a gun

prime: an unusual verb

primary: a common adjective similar in meaning and use to principal

primarily: the adverb form

Using the word

concern/importance: The primary concern must be to ensure that women are able to return to work after taking maternity leave.

example: A prime example of this problem is how commuters often arrive late for work because of traffic congestion.

suspect: The prime suspect in this case must be the amount of  toxins dumped in rivers. [this is a phrase used in criminal law that can be used metaphorically in general English]

cause: One of the prime causes of air pollution in cities is the amount of building work being done.

school/education: It is debatable at what age children should start learning a second language at primary school.

minister: The ultimate decision must rest with the prime minister of the country. [Some countries have presidents, some have prime ministers and some have both!]

in your prime/past your prime: I would argue that teachers in their forties are in fact in their prime as they typically have more experience than younger colleagues. [to be in your prime is to be at age when you are at your best]



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2 Responses to Prime

  1. Rose April 27, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    Hi Dominic – thanks so much for these materials – they are brilliant. However, I think there might be a typo in one of your sentences (repeated in ‘concern/importance:’ and sentence 1. in the Exercise. I think it should read ‘must be TO ensure ….’. Thanks again, Rose 🙂

    • Dominic Cole April 27, 2014 at 4:51 pm #

      Whoops! Thanks for letting me know. Now fixed. I try to be as careful as possible but things do slip through.

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