While fall (autumn-UK) is back-to-school time and parents are running around getting their children’s school supplies in order, every Monday seems to be “back-to-office” time for adults. Since we’ve already covered some back-to-school vocabulary in Easy English, we thought it would be a good idea to talk about office supplies vocabulary this week.
A lot of office supplies and school supplies are similar, if not the same, so they’re all very useful words to know. If you’ve been wondering what that “thing” on your desk that makes holes in paper is called in English, for example, check out some of our office supplies vocabulary below!
Have you ever had a piece of paper that doesn’t have any holes in it, but needs holes so you can save it in a binder (the large folder with a hard cover that holds paper)? Then you’ll need some sort of device that can put holes in paper. Thus, your hole punch.
You may not need a hole punch that often, but when you do, they’re very handy to have!
- The teacher didn’t make holes in the handout again. Do you have a hole punch I could borrow?
- The hole punch can only punch holes in 5 sheets at a time.
When you write, it’s not uncommon to make a mistake (an error, something wrong). Whether you misspell something, find a different way of wording something, or just want to make a change, you will need to go back and remove (delete) some text. If you write in pencil (a piece of wood in a long, thin shape with graphite in it that can be erased), you can use an eraser for this. An eraser is a bit of gummy (rubber) at the end of a pencil that can be used to correct a mistake.
- Oh no, I’ve made a lot of mistakes! I hope I have a good eraser.
- After I erase something, I always have little bits of gummy on my paper.
Pens/Pencils/Highlighters/Dry Erase Markers
There are all different implements (things you can use to write with) we use for writing. Many people have a favorite kind and color of writing utensil (implement) that they use. People either like writing with a pencil or a pen (implement filled with ink).
If you are reading something and want to mark an important passage, you may use a highlighter, which is a type of marker with bright, transparent ink so you can notice important passages more quickly.
A dry erase marker is a special type of marker to be used on a whiteboard.
- Please only use pencil when you do the math exercises.
- Only use black or blue pen to fill out the form.
- Highlight every new vocabulary word in the text you don’t know.
- This dry erase marker is out of ink – you can’t see the writing on the white board.
How do you hold multiple sheets of paper together so they don’t get separated? There are usually two different ways. The first is with a stapler and staples. Staples are small, thin pieces of metal in a U shape that hold multiple sheets of paper together sticking the ends of the U through the papers, and folding the arms of the staple together to form a circle. Staples cannot be removed easily and leave two small holes in the paper. A stapler is the device used to put the staples through the paper.
- Please staple all the notes together by chapter.
- Staple the papers together in the top left corner of the page.
The second way to hold paper together is with paper clips. Paper clips are curved pieces of metal or plastic that hold sheets of paper together. While staples generally need to be torn out of the paper to remove them, paper clips just slide (slip) right on or off.
- Do you have a paper clip handy? I want to attach some cash to her birthday card.
- You can stick the end of a paper clip in the hole to pop the SIM card out of your smartphone.
How do you fix a piece of paper that you’ve torn? Or how do you close a box you need to mail? With tape!
Tape is a thin sheet of plastic with a sticky adhesive (thing that sticks) on the back to hold two things together. Some tape is thin and clear, which is used to tape things like bits of paper back together. Some tape is wide and brown, and is used to close boxes before they’re mailed. This is called packing tape.
There are all different kinds of tape with different purposes, but having some tape around certainly is useful!
- I need some packing tape to close this box so I can mail it.
- I always put tape over the lid of my shampoo bottles when I fly to make sure they don’t open.
Sometimes you’ll have to cut something at the office- maybe just paper, or a string holding a package together. That’s when scissors are useful.
Scissors are a type of cutting instrument that look sort of (a little bit) like two knives put together. Scissors are the type of office supplies that tend to go missing pretty often.
- I need a bigger pair of scissors to cut this cable. Do you think they’ll have one at the front desk?
- Scissors for lefties never work as well as normal scissors.
Finally, what do you use when you need to send a letter in the mail? You can’t just mail it off on its own! That’s why we use envelopes.
Envelopes are folded pieces of paper that wrap around a letter or small package that have the recipient’s address on them.
- I wrote the address on this envelope wrong. I’ll have to get another one.
- What address should go on the envelope?
What sorts of office supplies do you have on your desk? Did any of them make our list of office supplies vocabulary? Which ones? Share them with us in the comments below!
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Erin Duffin lives in Hamburg, is an English teacher, blogger, yoga instructor, and together with the back-to-school vocabulary, is sure you will feel more confident ordering your office supplies!