IELTS & TOEFL Vocabulary: Talking about Food


Hello. My name is Emma, and in today's video, I am going to teach you some great expressions

and some great things you can say about food.

Now, this video will be very, very helpful

if you are taking the IELTS, because they often ask you about food in the speaking section,

and same with if you're doing the TOEFL, because oftentimes there is a question on food; not

always, but often. Also, just this video can benefit everybody, because food is something

a lot of people talk about, and so these expressions are very good to use in everyday situations.

All right, so let's get started.

I have, here, a question. This question comes up a lot on IELTS, sometimes on TOEFL, and

in everyday life. The question is:

"What kind of food do you like?

And what kind of food do you dislike or not like?"

So I've written here some key expressions you can use to...

Which mean "like" and "dislike". Now, for IELTS and TOEFL people, you really want to

show off your vocabulary, so these are some great ways to do that. All right, so let's

look at some of these.

The first one:

"I really like..." This is better than just saying: "I like", because

you're actually, you know, giving an amount. "I really like something."

So, for me: What kind of food do you like? I like Korean food,

so I can say: "I really like bibimbap.",

"I enjoy bibimbap.",

"My favourite dish is bibimbap."

"Dish" is similar to food, but it's not...

We wouldn't use it for talking about apples or oranges. We use it for talking about a

cooked meal. Okay? So a "dish" means something that is a meal.

So: "My favourite dish is spaghetti.",

"I'm keen on pizza."

And here, be careful with this part: "on".

"I'm keen on pizza."

Okay, for these two, if you're comparing two foods,

you can use these two expressions.

So, for example:

"I prefer bibimbap to sushi.

I prefer lasagna to pizza."

So it means I'm saying: "I like pizza better than sushi." Okay?

So, key here, preposition "to".

"I prefer __________ to __________."

Similar-I'll jump on this side-

"I'd rather", "I'd rather eat".

This means the same thing as "I prefer". The "d" here stands for "would".

"I'd rather eat bibimbap than sushi.

I'd rather eat Chinese dumplings than McDonalds." Okay?

So you can use these expressions, too. Very helpful for TOEFL and IELTS.

Okay, what about for dislike, things we don't like? Here are some examples.

"I really don't like..."

For me: "I really don't like McDonalds. I really don't like hamburgers.

I really don't like hotdogs."

This has the exact same meaning: "I can't stand hamburgers. I can't stand anchovies.",

"I'm not keen on tuna. I'm not keen on oysters."

Okay? And finally: "I really dislike...

I really dislike sardines."

Okay? So these all mean "don't like", and these all mean "like".

These are great expressions to use when you're talking about food on the TOEFL or the IELTS,

or everyday life.

So now let's look at some new vocabulary we can use when describing food.

Okay, so another question they might ask you on the IELTS or the TOEFL, or maybe one of

your friends might ask you this, is to:

"Describe your favourite dish."

Okay, I'm just going to say this very quickly:

The pronunciation of this word: "favourite", "favourite". Okay?

Not "fav-our-ite". And "dish", what's a dish again? A dish is like a meal. Okay? So:

"Describe your favourite meal." This is a very common IELTS question and TOEFL.

So, when you describe

your favourite dish, you might want to talk about how good it is. Okay?

"It's incredible, it's amazing."

So here are some words we can use that can help you maybe get a higher score

on your vocabulary. The first one... And these all mean pretty much "delicious".

The first one: "tasty". Ice cream is tasty. Chocolate is tasty.

We can say "flavourful". This means it has a lot of different flavours to it, it has a lot of different taste. So,

bibimbap is flavourful. Mexican food is flavour-, flavourful.

You can also use the word "divine".

"Divine" means it's incredible, it's amazing.

"Oh, the pizza was divine.

The tacos were divine." Okay? So it means really, really good.

And then we also have this one, you can be rich in money,

you can also, for food, be "rich in flavour". So I could say:

"The... The food from last night, dinner last night was rich in flavour. The cake is rich in flavour."

Okay? So these are all great expressions you can use.

Now, we have the different types of taste or the different types of flavour. Okay? So

I'm going to tell you about each one, and I'm going to give you an example of each.

So the first one: "sour", "sour". Okay? So I know the spelling looks like "sou" or something,

but it actually is pronounced: "sow-er". So, "sour" is a taste, and it's like the taste

of a lemon. Okay? You know that taste, it's very strong, and it causes you to go like...?

That's sour. So lemons are sour, limes are sour. There are certain types of candy, when

you put it in your mouth, it's very sour. So it's like tasting like a lemon.

We also have the word "sweet". Chocolate is sweet, candy is sweet.

We have the word "bitter", "bitter", "bitter". You'll notice with the "t",

in North American English, we pronounce

this like a "d", so I'm not saying: "bitter", I'm saying "bidder", but you can do it either

way. If something is bitter, it has... It's not sweet, it's not sour, and it's not salty.

It almost... It has a strong taste, and the taste is like coffee. If you've ever had a

cup of coffee with no milk and no sugar, just the coffee, that taste is very bitter.

We have the word "salty". Okay? So this is when you put a lot of salt on something.

Fish is very salty. If you've ever eaten tuna from a can, it can be very, very salty.

Same with french fries. Okay? People put salt on french fries, it makes the french fries salty.

Okay, now we have the word "oily", "oily", "oily", and "greasy".

Be careful with the pronunciation of these two; I hear a lot of students make mistakes. So: "oily" and "greasy".

For this one, you actually have to smile when you say it. So, just like "cheese", "grease",

"greasy". An example of something that's oily or greasy (they mean the same thing) is a

cheese pizza. If you look at a cheese pizza, the top of it is, like, almost wet, and it's

filled with pretty much fat, so we call that oily or greasy. Okay? French fries can also

be oily or greasy. Usually unhealthy food, not healthy food is usually oily and greasy.

Fast food is usually oily and greasy. McDonalds, Burger King, all of these fast food chains

usually have quite greasy and oily food.

Okay, the next word: "ripe", "ripe". If something is ripe, it means it's ready to be eaten.

So, we usually use this with fruit and sometimes vegetables, but a lot the times with fruit.

If you think about an apple, when an apple is ready to be eaten, it's ripe.

"Oh, this apple tastes so good. It's ripe."

Or mango, if you've ever eaten a mango, you can't eat

it when it's green; you wait for it to turn a different colour. When it turns into a red

colour or a different colour, we say it's ready to be eaten, it's ripe.

So, "ripe" means ready to be eaten, for fruit.

Finally, we have the word "spicy". It has the same meaning as "hot".

And so, spicy food

or hot food, if you imagine a red pepper... A red pepper is very spicy, it's very hot.

Indian food is very spicy, it's very hot. So, "spicy" means there's a lot of flavour

in it, and usually it makes your mouth feel like it's on fire if it's too spicy. Okay?

So that's the word "spicy" and "hot". Again, they mean the same thing.

All right, we also have some other words that are very important when describing food.

The first one is "raw", "raw". Okay? And notice how my mouth, it really opens up wide: "raw".

If something is raw, it means it is not cooked. Okay? So it's not cooked.

If you think about sushi, sushi is fish that is raw. It is not cooked fish; it is raw fish.

Another example is if you eat, you know, maybe you don't cook something

in your refrigerator, you eat it

raw. It hasn't been cooked. Broccoli, you can eat broccoli raw.

It means it hasn't been cooked yet.

Oh, and finally... Sorry, there's a mistake, here. This should be an "l", great.


so it rhymes with "and", "bland". "Bland" is when something is very boring,

there's no flavour. Okay? So, for example, imagine eating soup

and there's no salt, no pepper,

no spices, it's just pretty much boiled water, that would be very bland. Okay? There's no

flavour. A lot of students tell me Canadian food is a little bit bland. I don't know if

I'd agree, but I've heard a lot of students say that, so it means it's boring and without

flavour. All right, so let's come back here and let's do some pronunciation together next.

Okay, so another question that's very common if you're talking about food is:

"Do you like to cook? Do you like to cook?" This comes up a lot on the IELTS test, the speaking test,

as well as sometimes the TOEFL. So, we have two answers here.

"Yeah, I can cook. I like it."

I've also written: "I can't cook."

So the reason I bring this up is for pronunciation.

A lot of students don't know the difference in pronunciation between "can" and "can't".

Because on the TOEFL and IELTS you are marked on pronunciation, that's one thing they look

for, this is a way to improve your pronunciation mark. Okay: "I can cook."

"Can" is pronounced...

If you know who Barbie is, her boyfriend was named Ken. So I can put that here, Ken.

It's pronounced the same way: "I can cook." This is very different from "can't". My mouth,

for this, gets very big and wide, it's almost like somebody's pulling my mouth apart when

I say: "can't", "I can't cook."

Which one is louder? I want you to listen.

"I can cook.",

"I can't cook."

This one is the loud one. Okay? So if they ask you a question about:

-"Oh, do you like to cook?"

-"Oh yeah, I love cooking. I can cook really well."

or "No, I hate cooking. I can't cook." Okay.

Another thing you can say if you get asked this question, is you can talk about your

specialty. Your speciality is the thing you're good at cooking. Okay? So for me, my specialty

when it comes to cooking is gingerbread cookies.

I make very, very good gingerbread cookies.

I'm famous for my gingerbread cookies, so I would say:

"Oh, my speciality is gingerbread cookies. What's your speciality?"

Okay? Some of you might say: "Pizza", some of you might

say something totally different. So the specialty... And it's pronounced "spec-ial-tee", is the

thing you cook the best. So it's a good word to use.

Okay, finally, last thing I want to talk about, these are some common foods that students

mispronounce. Okay? Again, you're getting marked on pronunciation, so let's just look

at these words and how to pronounce them correctly. The first one:


A lot of students say: "choc-o-late", that's incorrect.

It's like this "o" doesn't exist: "choc-late".

We have this word, many students say: "veg-e-table". Sorry, four: "veg-e-ta-ble".

We don't pronounce it this way. First off, make sure your "v" is good: "veg".

We say: "vegtable", "vegetable",

"I like vegetables."

Okay, a lot of students make... Make mistakes with this word, too. The pronunciation of

this: "fruit", "fruit". Okay? So not "frete",

a lot of students pronounce the "i" as a "e"

sound. It's not "frete", it's "fruit".

And finally, similar to "chocolate", many students

mispronounce the word "broccoli".

They say: "broc-co-li", but it's actually just: "brocc-li".

The "o", here, it's quiet; it's a silent "o", so: "broccoli".

Okay, I hope you've enjoyed this video.

We've learned a lot of new words about food,

a lot of ways to talk about it. If you're doing the TOEFL or IELTS,

I hope you use some of these words, because they can help you in terms of your vocabulary mark,

as well as they can help you with your grammar and pronunciation.

I also want to invite you to come visit our website at

There, you can actually do a quiz to practice all of these words,

and to make sure that you understand them and that you can use them.

I wish you luck if you're doing the IELTS or if you're doing the TOEFL,

or if you're simply learning English.

Until next time, take care.

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