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ELC - English Language Center Los Angeles
Let's Talk Politics September 29th, 2015

Even though the American presidential elections don’t take place until November of next year, the potential candidates have started campaigning! Here is some vocabulary to help you understand political discussions, and to take part. Remember though: no politics at the dinner table!  

Politics (noun) – anything that refers to law and government

Party (noun) – a group of people with similar political ideas, such as the Democratic and Republican parties

Liberal, progressive (adjective) – a philosophy based on progress, breaking with tradition, and spending more money to help poor people. Typically opposite of ‘conservative’.

Conservative (adjective) – a philosophy that tends to uphold tradition and resist major changes in laws and institutions

To run (verb) – to try to become president

Candidate (noun) – a person who wants to become president and is formally running

Debate (noun) or ‘to debate’ (verb) – a structured, formal argument, usually televised

‘Heated’ (adjective) – used to describe a debate in which the participants get angry, excited, or passionate

‘Raise money’ (verb phrase) – to earn money for your campaign

Campaign (noun), also ‘to campaign’ (verb) – the process of trying to get oneself or someone else elected

Campaign Ad (noun) – an advertisement, sometimes a television commercial or billboard, meant to gain

‘Close race’ (noun) – when both candidates have a good chance of winning the election

Election (noun) – when people vote for a representative, such as a president, or laws

‘To elect’ (verb) – to choose a leader through a democratic vote

‘To spin’ (verb) – to present facts in a way that will sway public opinion

Ballot (noun) – piece of paper where you write your vote, usually done in private

Turnout (noun) – the amount of people who vote

Majority (noun) – the greater number, usually referring to votes

Propaganda (noun) – misleading or biased information used to manipulate and promote a political view

Poll (noun) – a survey of public opinion, used to measure support for each candidate or policy

Unemployment rate (noun) – the percentage of workers who cannot find jobs

Politics graphic