Posted 5/10/16
Bottle openers, pizza cutters, guitar players, anteaters, grave robbers and troublemakers: the world is full of ‘thing do-ers’. In this activity, students are introduced to this type of English compound noun. After that, they make creative use of their knowledge of English to guess the names of the objects in the video.
  • Language level: B1
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Activity: Grammar activity
  • Topic: Everyday objects
  • Language: Compound nouns
  • Materials: Video + worksheets
Thing do-ers (737kB) pdf [downloaded 1931 times]

Activity outline

The PDF download (see above) contains a grammar activity in which students have to use their knowledge of English to guess the names of the objects that they see in the video.

Please note that the video contains subtitles.


If you enjoy this activity, then why not subscribe to my YouTube channel and encourage your students to do the same.
Jamie :)

PS I would love to know about equivalent compound nouns that other languages have. Perhaps you could let me know in the comments section below …




Posted 5/10/16

18 Responses to ‘Thing do-ers’

  1. Gav says:

    Nice one Jamie. Had watched the video a couple of weeks ago. Nice addition with the PDF’s that give the students the choice of two alternative answers. I can see some L1 interference on the horizon with the Spanish students next week!! All the best. Gav,

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Thanks Gav
      Good luck with with it. I’m sure you will suitably clear up any confusion that arises! You could try getting students to play with ‘intermediary’ structures. For example, when I moved to Barcelona, we used to talk about ‘the open bottles’ instead of ‘the bottle opener’. Although it was intended as a joke, it did actually help me to internalize that particular Spanish structure. I don’t know who said we shouldn’t use translation in the classroom. But if I ever meet him, I’ll slap his arse!
      Jamie :)

  2. Pedro Julião do Nascimento says:

    Awesome work, Jamie.
    I dare to suggest someting, though:
    Why don’t you pronounce the words the next time?
    Some viewers might have difficulties with it
    By the way, can I share these videos with my students?
    Pedro (Brazil)

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      It’s ab awesome idea Pedro – I completely neglected the pron aspect, Oops!
      Would your students like a video in which I look at compound noun stress?

  3. Aimee says:

    Looks like fun! I will see how my B1+ group gets on with that on Monday.

    French has the same structure as Spanish:
    gratte-ciel (scrape-sky)
    ouvre-boîte (open-can)
    coupe-ongle (cut-fingernail)
    porte-manteaux (hold-coats)

    I have a hard time remembering what the rule is in terms of whether the noun is plural, since you can’t hear French plurals.

    But some that are a bit different, like décapsuleur (de-capper = bottle opener)


    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Hello Aimee!
      So it’s very similar to Spanish. The difference is that the Spanish grammar requires that the noun is plural (an “open bottles”, a “stop waters”)
      Hmmmmmmmm ….. interesting ……
      Jamie :)

  4. Gordana Vuković says:

    Hi, Jamie
    I am from Montenegro, ex Yugoslav republic, and we used to speak Serbo-Croatian or Croat-Serbian language. Now I will try to give you equivalents to some of your do-ers in Montenegrin language.
    Football player is ‘fudbaler’ and for player we have ‘igrač'; basketball player would be ‘košarkaš’, š would be pronounced as in a word shut. Koš is a basket and ‘košarka’ is basketball. Tennis player is ‘teniser’!!! As it rains outside we need to defend ourselves with ‘kišobran’- ‘kiša’ is rain and ‘-bran’ ‘braniti’ is defend. Open ‘otvoriti’, ‘otvarač’ is opener and we can add that it is for bottles :), ‘otvarač za boce’. Skyscraper is ‘neboder’ ‘nebo’-sky, ‘derati’-scrape. Fight-fighter–‘boriti se’-‘borac’. Act-actor–‘gluma’-‘glumac’. Grasshopper–hop, jump- ‘skakati’– ‘skakavac’ is grasshoper (no grass involved) :)

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Hello Gordana
      Taking fire fighter as an example, does that mean that you have the same word order as English but with a basic form verb?
      * neboder: ‘nebo’-sky and ‘derati’-scrape
      * skyscraper

      • Gordana Vuković says:

        There are similarities, noun+verb as in compounds but there are differences which is a whole new and long grammar story.

  5. jean sciberras says:

    Hi Jamie, it’s conference time again in Malta. :-)
    Nice lesson. Yes as somebody mentioned above, perhaps a further exercise on where the stress goes would be useful. Does it go on the first word or the second? Is there a rule?
    ps stubble really suits you, or should I have said face hair? :-)

    • Jamie Keddie says:

      Hello Jean
      Hope you are enjoying the conference
      You are right, I should have mentioned the stress. For this type of compound noun, stress usually falls on the first word:
      * Bottle opener Oooo
      * Piano player Oooo
      * Skyscraper Ooo
      I’ll make a new video over the weekend and post it here for you, OK?
      I think I prefer stubble to facial hair. Thank you. This is my grown up look!

  6. Cyril says:

    Really cool activity Jamie, can’t wait to try it with my students !

  7. Ernesto says:

    Hola J, pensé que podía usar un toque de Español no?
    Usé la actividad con a kind of, used for, made of antes de que adivinaran sus nombres.
    Funcionó genial!

  8. Catherine Daems says:

    Hi Jamie,
    Very good lesson plan again and I’ll do it with my teenage troublemakers!. One thing bothers me, though: can you really say that a grasshopper hops grass? (Doesn’t it rather hop in grass or on grass?)

  9. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Catherine
    You are absolutely right. ‘Hop’ is an intransitive verb and grasshopper has no place in the list. We must drop it. Now, who has the insecticide?
    That was careless of me
    Thanks for that
    Jamie :)