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 English Vocabulary for ESL learners 


ANTONYMS OR OPPOSITES

What is an antonym?


An antonym is a word that is opposite in meaning to another word.
For example, ‘cold’ is the antonym of ‘hot’.
The list of antonyms below, with an example of use, will help English learners improve their vocabulary.


WORD ANTONYM EXAMPLE
above below - The cups are on the shelf above the sink.
- The washing-up liquid is below the sink 
absent present - Arthur is not here today.  He's absent.
- The teacher will be present at the graduation ceremony. 
accept refuse - The customer accepts/refuses the conditions. 
accidental intentional - He didn't intend to break the window. It was accidental.
- He wanted to break the window.  It was intentional.
add subtract - An amount of tax must be added to the bill.
- A mistaken amount was substracted from the bill
admit deny - Bobby said he stole the ball. He admitted it.
- Sam said he didn't steal the ball. He denied it.
affirmative negative - I got the job! The reply was affirmative.
- I'm disappointed. I received a negative reply.
after before - My guitar lesson is after lunch, at 2 pm.
- The tennis match is before lunch, at 11 am.
alive dead - The man was alive/dead when the doctor arrived.
allow forbid - Food is allowed but smoking is forbidden.
approximately exactly - The journey will take approximately an hour.
- The journey will take exactly 48 minutes and 30 seconds.
arrive depart - The train departs at 10.15 am and arrives at 2 pm.
attack defend - Enemy forces attacked the harbour.
- Our troups defended it.
awake asleep - I can hear noise. The baby is awake.
- There is no noise. The baby is still asleep.
bad good - Pedro is a bad student. He must work harder.
- José got good results in English. He is very pleased.
beautiful ugly - The actress is very beautiful.
- The wound left an ugly scar on the man's face.
before after - The tennis match is before lunch, at 11 am.
- My guitar lesson isafter lunch, at 2 pm.
begin end - The film begins at 7 pm and ends at 8.30 pm.
below above - The bookshelves are above the television.
- The dvds are below it.
big small - My boss drives a big car but my car is small.
bitter sweet - We had a choice between sweet tea or bitter wine.
brave cowardly - You were very brave to defend the group.
- A cowardly person runs away when faced with danger.
cheap expensive - This shop sells cheap/expensive clothes.
clean dirty - When their parents returned, the house was clean/dirty.
cold hot - We need to heat the soup because it's cold.
- Be careful! The plate is very hot.
come go - Visitors to the museum come and go all day.
complicated simple - Some legal terms can be complicated and difficult to understand.
- The terms of the agreement were simple and clear.
cool warm - In autumn you should bring clothes for cool weather.
- In spring the weather is often warm.
correct incorrect - His answer was correct/incorrect.
cowardly brave - You were very brave to defend the group.
- It was cowardly of Sam to run away.
curly straight - Her hair is curly/straight.
damage repair - If you damage anything you will have to repair it.
dangerous safe - Be careful. The building is in a very dangerous area.
- Don't worry.We live in a safe part of the city.
dark light - What colour is your car? It's dark/light blue.
depart arrive - The train departs at 10.15 am and arrives at 2 pm.
despair hope - There is no work here.  Tom despairs of finding a job.
- Andy has graduated and hopes to find a job soon.
different similar - All the houses are different.  None of them are similar.
- The houses are all similar to each other. They are alike.
difficuilt easy - The English test was quite difficult/easy.
early late - Jack had to leave at 6 am so he had an early breakfast.
- I didn't have to work so I had a late breakfast.
false true - Some details were false but the main story was true.
fat thin - The shopkeeper is overweight.  He's quite fat.
- His wife is the opposite. She's very thin.
find lose - You try to find something when you lose it.
follow lead - The teacher leads the group and the children follow her.
forbid allow - Food is allowed but smoking is forbidden.
forget remember - I'm losing my memory. I often forget things.
- I've got a good memory. I remember names easily.
freeze melt - You freeze food in the freezer.
Ice-cream will melt in the sun.
full empty - This bottle of milk is empty.
- The one in the fridge is full.
gentle violent - They walked along the beach enjoying the gentle breeze.
- A violent storm broke out in the evening.
good bad - Maria got good results in English. She is very pleased.
- Carla is a bad student. She must work harder
happy sad - Jimmy was sad leaving New York, but he was happy to see his family again.
hard soft - He slept in a hard bed but the pillow was soft.
hardworking lazy - Joe works well. His colleagues say he is hardworking.
-
Mike does as little as possible. He's lazy.
heavy light - My suitcase is very heavy.  I can't lift it.
- My suitcase is very light. I can carry it.
hope despair - Andy has graduated and hopes to find a job soon.
- There is no work here. Tom despairs of  finding a job.
hot cold - Be careful! The plate is very hot.
- We need to heat the soup because it's cold.
intelligent stupid - Intelligent people understand quickly. 
- Stupid people are slow to understand things.
interesting boring - Tom found the conference quite interesting.
- Alex left before the end because he found it boring.
long short - The bride wore a long dress.
- Her mother's dress was short .
married single - My sister is married but my brother is still single.
modern traditional - Her dress was modern but the ceremony was traditional.
negative affirmative - I'm disappointed. I received a negative reply.
- I got the job! The reply was affirmative.
new old - The television set is old.  We're going to buy a new one.
noisy quiet - The boys are too noisy. Tell them to be quiet!
polite impolite - The children are impolite.
- They should learn to be polite.
poor rich - Rich people can buy what they want.
- Poor people have to be careful with their money.
proper improper - For the interview wear a proper dress, not jeans!
- The boy was punished for behaving in an improper way.
quiet noisy - We live in a quiet area
- It's not noisy at all.
remember forget - I've got a good memory. I remember names easily.
- I'm losing my memory. I often forget things
right wrong - We took the right road and arrived on time. 
- The others went the wrong way and got lost.
safe dangerous - The children can play here.  It's a safe place.
- Don't play near the road.  It's too dangerous.
short long - Eva wore a long dress but Amanda wore a short one.
shout whisper - The policeman shouted a warning.
- People whisper at the cinema so as not to disturb others.
similar different - The buildings are all similar to each other. They are alike.
- All the houses are different. None of them are similar.
simple complicated - The terms of the agreement were simple and clear.
- Some legal terms can be complicated and difficult to understand.
single married - My brother is still single but my sister is married.
small big - This bag is too small.
- We need a big bag to go shopping.
soft hard - She likes a soft pillow but prefers a hard mattress.
traditional modern - The ceremony was traditional but her dress was modern.
true false - The story was true but some of the details were false.
well unwell - My grandfather is in good health. He's well.
- My grandmother has the 'flu. She's unwell at the moment.
whisper shout - People whisper at the cinema so as not to disturb others.
- The policeman shouted a warning.
wrong right - He didn't understand me because I used the wrong word.
- I used a dictionary to find the right word.

See also:   homonyms  Ι synonyms  Ι comparative table

back to Vocabulary



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