English Lesson: Vocabulary About Jobs and Work

Michael Uncategorized 13 Comments

Today’s story is about the work history of a guy named Teddy. Teddy started working when he was fifteen years old. His first job was a part time job in a small restaurant. He had a few part time jobs while he was in high school and college. After graduating, Teddy got his first full time job in a bank. He was a bank teller. He worked in the bank for a few years and then quit the bank and started working for the telephone company. He held that job until he retired at age 62.

Today I want to go over the vocabulary related to working. In English, we have some specific ways to ask about and talk about work.

When you want to ask someone about their job you can ask, “What do you do?” This is the most common way to ask about someone’s job. We don’t ask, “What is your job? When someone asks What do you do? you’ll need to tell them your exact job or job title. Here are some examples:

Question: What do you do?
Answer: I am a salesman or I am a teacher or I am a doctor or I am a bookkeeper

You can also answer by describing your job, if you job doesn’t have a clear title:

Question: What do you do?
Answer: I work for a real estate company in the accounting office

General answers such as “I am a business man / I am a business woman” “I am an office worker” “I have a part-time job.” etc are not normal in English speaking countries and English conversations. Why? Well, most people work in a business and many people work in an office. Most students have a part-time job. We know that! If someone asks you what you do, they want to know specifically what your job is.

By the way, the words salaryman and office lady are not used in English, so please do not use them!

If you are not working, but staying home caring for your family you are a homemaker.

When you choose to leave a job, you quit the job. You can say

  • I quit my job last week. Not, “I retired from my job last week” (see below)
  • I quit working for the bank.

If your company decides that they don’t want you to work there you can get fired if you do something wrong or get laid off if the company’s financial situation is not good

  • Joe got fired because he came to work late too many times
  • Jenny got laid off because the company had a hard time in this bad economy,

When you stop working around age 60 or 65, you retire. The condition is called retirement.

  • Brad retired from the bank and now lives in Florida
  • My grandfather is enjoying his retirement and new life in Southern California.

Well, that was hard work! Are you working now? What do you do? Leave a comment here!

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