English Lesson Focused On Ism Words To Help English Speaking Fluency Ep 320

A photograph of a fireman running towards a fire, using in talking about heroism as part of an English fluency practice lesson.

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English lesson

In today's English lesson we will use ism words to practice our English fluency. We could have chosen any words really, but these are interesting and worth learning about anyway, but the point of the lesson is to practice out English listening comprehension and keep practicing common English vocabulary so your English listening becomes automatic.

It has been weird here in the UK especially in and around London, with everyone (pretty much everyone) on lockdown, the lockdown limits us to our houses and shopping for food. It’s been sunny here and when we go out to our little garden you notice, there is no noise from the roads, there are no planes getting ready to land at Heathrow Airport, the air smells clean, you can hear birds and animals.

So far we know of very few people affected by the virus, none of our older neighbours or friends and family, and we are constantly in contact with everyone using the internet, it’s amazing how much more communicating we are doing.

We’ve been busy working on Adept English, and hopefully when things go back to normal we can convert all of our ideas and notes into new content and lessons for you all.

Most Unusual Words:


Most common 2 word phrases:

Ism Words12
These Words8
In English6
For Example6
Words Which5

Listen To The Audio Lesson Now

The mp3 audio and pdf transcript for this lesson is now part of the Adept English back catalogue . You can still download and listen to this lesson as part of one of our podcast bundles.

Transcript: English Lesson Focused On Ism Words To Help English Speaking Fluency

Hi there and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. I hope you are well – and that is something that we say much more these days, isn’t it? And I hope that you’re safe and have what you need around you.

If you’re learning English, we are here to help you move from basic vocabulary and basic understanding to greater fluency. We help you move towards understanding English better – and once you’ve got an automatic understanding of English, then it’s much easier to move into speaking English. So now is as good a time as any to work on your English language skills – and we’re here to help you with that. So our podcasts give you an English lesson, or they talk about a particular subject for interest (while you’re learning English, of course!). So English lessons, free of charge. But if you would like to learn in a more structured and focused way, then have a look at our Course One, Activate Your Listening, available for you to buy on our website at adeptenglish.com. This course gives you English conversation – and helps you get into the habit of understanding, without needing to translate! Translating to your own language – that kills fluency! You’re never going to become fluent in English if you’re translating – so you need to stop translating! You have to understand in the language that you’re learning. So for practice at that, Course One, Activate Your Listening is really helpful!

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So today – let’s have a look at a group of words which have the same ending. And if you want to know what category of podcast this is – then it’s a ‘helping hand with the English language’ podcast as discussed in Rule Six of the Seven Rules of Adept English – our free course. Let’s do a free English lesson for English listening and English speaking on a group of English words.

Words which end in -ism

So the ending we’re looking at today, is -ism, I-S-M ending words. So examples in English would be ‘socialism’, or ‘racism’ or ‘heroism’. So I think some other European languages may also have -ism words, which mirror the ones in English. So in French it would be an -I-S-M-E ending, like in the word ‘capitalisme’ or ‘égotisme’ or in German, these words tend to have an -ISMUS ending, -ismus, like ‘Hedonismus’ or ‘Fatalismus’. And words like these have an -ISMO ending in Spanish for example. We’ve adopted the word ‘machismo’ in English – the Spanish word for being very very manly!


So all of these words which I’ve given you as examples in French and German also work in English with the -ism ending. So ‘capitalism’ and ‘egotism’, ‘hedonism’ or ‘fatalism’ – they all work in English. So you may have an equivalent in your language too.

Examples of -ism words

If we think about the meaning of these words, it’s generally about a set of beliefs, a ‘mindset’ if you like. It’s a way of viewing the word, from a particular position, which gives you a particular approach to life. So for example, if ‘hedonism’ is your thing, then you are focused on enjoying yourself, having a good time. You don’t care too much about the consequences, you don’t look too far into the future – your pleasure, your enjoyment is the most important thing. And if you are into egotism, then you, yourself and everything about you is priority, you are the most important thing – which can sometimes be unpleasant for everyone else! There are positives uses too – for example we might talk about ‘heroism’ – that’s H-E-R-O-I-S-M. That’s the state of being ‘a hero’. So that’s often when you’ve acted in a way which is a risk to you – but which helps other people. There’s a lot of talk in the UK at the moment about the ‘heroism’ of people working in the NHS, putting themselves at risk to save other people.

-Ism words for medical conditions

Ism words can also be used to show a condition, maybe a medical condition. So here it’s clearly not a set of beliefs, but a state of being. So ‘mutism’, M-U-T-I-S-M means that you cannot speak, ‘autism’, A-U-T-I-S-M means that you have autistic spectrum disorder – Greta Tunberg is an example of someone with autism or Aspergers at least – it’s a kind of autism. There are lots of medical conditions, illnesses, which might be called ism – usually long words like Hyperthyroidism, for example.

-Ism words for prejudice

But often words with an -ism ending are about a set of beliefs that a person lives by – so it could be ‘racism’ or ‘sexism’ or ‘ageism’. So those words all mean beliefs that mean you treat others unequally. If it’s racism, you treat people unequally because of their race, or sexism unequally because of their gender or their sex, or in ageism, you treat people unequally because of their age. And so many of these words can be made into adjectives – so these three become racist, R-A-C-I-S-T, sexist S-E-X-I-S-T, or ageist, A-G-E-I-S-T to describe both the belief or action or the person. For example you might say ‘That was an ageist thing to say’. Sometimes the IST ending is the word for the person who has those beliefs – so you might hear ‘Oh, he’s a racist’.

-Ism words for ideologies

These -ism words also used for big political ideologies – so ‘socialism’, ‘capitalism’, ‘communism’, ‘fascism’ – political systems, ways of organising economies. And here again you could use ‘socialist’ or ‘capitalist’ or ‘communist’ as adjectives or to mean a person with these beliefs – so ‘It’s a communist country’ or ‘He comes from a socialist family’ or ‘She’s a capitalist’. Atheism, A-T-H-E-I-S-M is when you don’t believe in God and theism, T-H-E-I-S-M is when you do. There are many of these words which mean a set of beliefs, a way of thinking about the world. And you might refer to someone as an ‘atheist’ or I guess, as a ‘theist’, though that’s less commonly used.


A photograph business team investment entrepreneur trading, used to visualise the English ism word capitalism.

©️ Adept English 2020

-Ism words for movements in Art

There are lots of -ism words in Art, wherever there are ‘schools of thought’, people who come together because they share the same ideas. So in Art, a famous movement would be ‘Impressionism’ – so artists like Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir, Pissaro – these artists would be called the Impressionists and their art would be described as Impressionist. There are lots of movements in art like this – Fauvism, Dadaism, Cubism, Post-Modernism, Surrealism. If you study European art, you’ll probably have come across these words.

I love capitalism. It rewards me for being brave - it awards me for being innovative and thinking out of the box.
⭐ Henry Rollins, American Musician

-Ism words with a capital letter or without

With some of these -ism words, there is a capital letter – to show that they’re part of a known movement – so you’ll see Impressionism with a capital ‘I’. But sometimes they’re not a known movement and these words show more of a state of being. And here there’s a bit more flexibility. If someone is into idealism, we might say they’re ‘an idealist’. Think of John Lennon and the words to the song ‘Imagine’ – that’s classic idealism!

Download The Podcast Audio & Transcript

So we would say that ‘he was an idealist’ or that he was ‘idealistic’ – so that istic, I-S-T-I-C ending shows an adjective. And we can even make an adverb with some of these words, so you could in theory live your life ‘idealistically’. So you can’t add these endings to every word – you wouldn’t ever say ‘communistically’ or ‘capitalistically’ for instance. But on a smaller scale, when it’s more personal, more about you specifically, you can. You can say ‘futuristic’ or ‘futuristically’ for example – more commonly used that ‘futurism’, thought that is a word!


So that’s your English lesson for today. Listen to the podcast a number of times until you’re comfortable with -ism words and you understand the ideas that I’m talking about.

Enough for now. Have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.




The voice of Adeptenglish, loves English and wants to help people who want to speak English fluently.
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