Written by John Millen
'What's the name of the thingummybob you use for pulling nails out of wood?' I've forgotten the word!
It happens to us all. You are in the middle of explaining something important and you suddenly can't remember the name of the thing you are talking about. Don't panic! In English, there are a group of lovely words that we can use when we can't remember a particular noun.
Imagine the scene. You are in a pharmacy and you want to buy one of those things that clip your nails. But you just can't remember the word. You turn to your friend.
'What's the name of the thingummybob you use to clip your nails?'
'What? Do you mean a pair of nail clippers?'
The right thingy
You can use these words when you have forgotten the name of something temporarily.
Complete the sentences below using the noun of your choice from the list. They all have similar meaning. Practise using them by reading the sentences aloud.
1 Where's the ........... you change channels with?
2 You need a bigger ............ than the one you've got.
3 I can't get this ........... to work.
4 Have you got a ................ - one of those things you use to make holes in paper with?
5 How does this ............... work?
6 Where's my ...............?
7 I don't think you've got the right ............ for the job.
The Thingummybob song
Take a look at your mobile phone. Pull out the whatsit that holds the sim card. Someone in a factory somewhere made this little thing. Did they know what they were making? Factory workers make every little bit of your phone, MP3 player or notebook computer.
Look at these lyrics that were written during the second world war about a girl making a small part of some war machine. Read them aloud, slowly, and you will see what the song's all about. It's clever and it's fun!
She's the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
That holds the spring that drives the rod that turns the knob
That works the thingummybob.
She's the girl that makes the thing that holds the oil
That oils the ring that takes the shank that moves the crank
That works the thingummybob
It's a hard job making a thing for a thingummybob
Especially when you don't know what it's for
But she's the girl that makes the thing that drills the hole
That holds the spring that works the thingummybob
That makes the engines roar.
The Phone Thingummybob
Can you adapt the poem and make it all about the whatsit that holds the sim card in your phone? Here's an example.
She's the girl that makes the thing that fits the card
That fills the slot
That holds the sim
That works my thingummybob