Advanced English: Commenting On Actions

We often make comments about our actions. In particular, we like to say if the action was good or right – or if it wasn’t.

We use both adjectives and phrases for commenting on actions. Here are some common ways to comment – both positive and negative – along with grammar notes.

Adjectives with -less

Pointless = there is no point, reason or logic for doing something
“Memorising lists of words is pointless – unless you put them into practice.”

Useless = something won’t get you the result you want
“It’s useless talking to him. He just refuses to listen.”

Worthless = something has no worth or value (often used for concepts rather than actions)
“My certificate is a worthless piece of paper.”
“She thinks that body-building is a worthless activity.”

Adjectives with -ful

Useful = something which has a use or which will get you a result
“Learning languages is useful if you want to make international friends.”

Helpful = something that can help you get closer to a result
“His feedback was very helpful.”

Meaningful = something that is relevant or important, or with value (also used for concepts)
“Sitting on the beach and thinking about the future can be a meaningful activity!”

Fruitful = something which will bring you positive results
“Our discussions with the suppliers were very fruitful. We got a great discount.”

Phrases with -ing

We often use phrases with the gerund (“ing form”) to say if an action is good or not. Here are a couple of examples:

There’s no point (in) doing … = something has no reason or logic
“There’s no point cleaning the windows now – it’s just about to rain.”
(Be careful not to say “There’s no point to do…”)

It’s (well) worth doing … = something has value
“In my opinion, it’s well worth going to university.”

More expressions

It’s worth it = to say that something has value
“What do you think of paying for swimming lessons?”
“Yes, it’s worth it.”

A waste of … = something is not useful (time, money or energy)
“Shopping in the sales was a complete waste of time!”

More adjectives

Practical = with a real, concrete use
“They came up with a practical solution to dividing the housework. She did the cleaning and he did the cooking.”

Impractical = not very realistic or effective
“Their idea to cycle across Europe was a little impractical.”

Productive = when something produces results
“We had a very productive meeting.”

Counterproductive = when something produces results you don’t want
“Forcing people to wear seatbelts in cars can be counterproductive, as they take more risks.”

Effective = when something gets you the results you want
“Your strategy of getting your son to study was very effective!”

Ineffective = something which doesn’t get the results you want
“Just shouting at him to study is ineffective!”

Worthwhile = an action / activity that is a good use of your time
“It was definitely worthwhile talking to the Director as we could resolve the situation.”