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Understand That Words Can Have Positive and Negative Connotations

In this worksheet, students consider words that can have a positive or negative effect on the reader.

'Understand That Words Can Have Positive and Negative Connotations' worksheet

Key stage:  KS 3

Curriculum topic:   Grammar and Vocabulary

Curriculum subtopic:   Vocabulary and Grammar Awareness

Difficulty level:  

Worksheet Overview

QUESTION 1 of 10

Some words in the English language appear to be similar in meaning, but on closer examination we can tell that they have either a positive or negative effect on the reader.

 

John left Sarah at the side of the road.

John abandoned Sarah at the side of the road.

 

In the first sentence the verb left is neutral: the reader doesn't know whether John has done a good or a bad thing. However, the verb abandoned has a negative connotation, or effect, and the reader knows that John has done a bad thing by leaving Sarah at the side of the road.

 

Writers choose their words very carefully to create the effect they are seeking, and often readers are not aware that their feelings are being manipulated by the writer's choice of words.

 

In this worksheet you can think about the connotations of different words. You may find a dictionary helpful.

All of the adjectives in the list can be used to desribe a person who is thin, but two have a positive connotation and two have a negative connotation.

 

Tick the two words with a positive connotation.

slim

scrawny

skinny

slender

All the adjectives in the list can be used to describe a person who is quiet and does not speak much in company. Most of them are neutral, but one has a negative connotation. Which one?

shy

reserved

aloof

bashful

reticent

The words in this list can be used to describe a person who is very thorough and always takes a lot of care when doing tasks. Most have a positive connotation but which one is negative?

conscientious

painstaking

precise

fastidious

meticulous

A person who is careful with money can be described using the following adjectives. This time, tick two words with negative connotations.

thrifty

miserly

economical

parsimonious

prudent

All the following verbs mean to become involved in someone else's affairs or problems. They all have a negative connotation except one, which is neutral. Tick the neutral verb.

interfere

meddle

intrude

intervene

This time, the adjectives in the list all describe a person who takes an interest in other people's business. Again, they are all negative except one. Tick the neutral adjective.

nosy

intrusive

inquisitive

snoopy

prying

A person who is determined and does not give way easily can be described using the following adjectives. Two are positive and two are negative. Tick the positive adjectives.

stubborn

steadfast

resolute

obstinate

All the following adjectives can be used to describe an adult who is behaving in a manner normally associated with children. They are all negative except one. Tick the positive adjective.

childish

infantile

childlike

puerile

babyish

Someone who is a great admirer or fan of something (such as football, for example) can be described using the following adjectives. Which one has a negative connotation?

fervent

obsessive

zealous

passionate

enthusiastic

This time, the adjectives below can be used to describe a person who is strong-willed, but only one of them is positive. Tick the adjective with a positive connotation.

assertive

domineering

pushy

overbearing

  • Question 1

All of the adjectives in the list can be used to desribe a person who is thin, but two have a positive connotation and two have a negative connotation.

 

Tick the two words with a positive connotation.

CORRECT ANSWER
slim
slender
EDDIE SAYS
'Scrawny' is more negative than 'skinny' but neither description is complimentary!
  • Question 2

All the adjectives in the list can be used to describe a person who is quiet and does not speak much in company. Most of them are neutral, but one has a negative connotation. Which one?

CORRECT ANSWER
aloof
EDDIE SAYS
If somebody is described as 'aloof' the implication is that he or she is unfriendly and distant as well as being quiet.
  • Question 3

The words in this list can be used to describe a person who is very thorough and always takes a lot of care when doing tasks. Most have a positive connotation but which one is negative?

CORRECT ANSWER
fastidious
EDDIE SAYS
A fastidious person is often so attentive to detail that he or she is difficult to please.
  • Question 4

A person who is careful with money can be described using the following adjectives. This time, tick two words with negative connotations.

CORRECT ANSWER
miserly
parsimonious
EDDIE SAYS
The adjective 'parsimonious' suggests that the person involved is unwilling to spend money rather than unable to.
  • Question 5

All the following verbs mean to become involved in someone else's affairs or problems. They all have a negative connotation except one, which is neutral. Tick the neutral verb.

CORRECT ANSWER
intervene
EDDIE SAYS
The word 'intrude' has the meaning of interfering in something private.
  • Question 6

This time, the adjectives in the list all describe a person who takes an interest in other people's business. Again, they are all negative except one. Tick the neutral adjective.

CORRECT ANSWER
inquisitive
EDDIE SAYS
'Nosy' and 'snoopy' are more informal than 'intrusive' and 'prying'.
  • Question 7

A person who is determined and does not give way easily can be described using the following adjectives. Two are positive and two are negative. Tick the positive adjectives.

CORRECT ANSWER
steadfast
resolute
EDDIE SAYS
The word 'steadfast' also has the meaning of being reliable.
  • Question 8

All the following adjectives can be used to describe an adult who is behaving in a manner normally associated with children. They are all negative except one. Tick the positive adjective.

CORRECT ANSWER
childlike
EDDIE SAYS
Although 'childish' and 'childlike' seem very similar, 'childlike' is usually used affectionately for someone who is behaving in an innocent and trusting way.
  • Question 9

Someone who is a great admirer or fan of something (such as football, for example) can be described using the following adjectives. Which one has a negative connotation?

CORRECT ANSWER
obsessive
EDDIE SAYS
Although 'zealous' is not negative, it is the closest of the other adjectives to 'obsessive'.
  • Question 10

This time, the adjectives below can be used to describe a person who is strong-willed, but only one of them is positive. Tick the adjective with a positive connotation.

CORRECT ANSWER
assertive
EDDIE SAYS
'Pushy' is more informal than the other adjectives.
---- OR ----

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