What Is Popular in Your Country?

15 February 2024

Think about something that your friends or people you know like.

Can you bring an image to your mind?

The image that you are thinking of can serve as a starting point for today's report: the word "popular."

Everyday Grammar
Everyday Grammar

In today's Everyday Grammar, we will talk about a useful word that you can use to express all kinds of ideas about what people around you like: actors, celebrations, foods, music — almost anything.

Popular vs. Population

We begin our exploration of the word "popular" by clarifying how it is different from the word population.

Popular and population are closely related words and have somewhat similar spellings. But we should be careful not to mix up the two.

Popular means many people know about someone or something and that they like the person or thing. Population simply describes a group of people.

Another way of expressing the idea is this: something might be popular within a population. In other words, something might be popular within a group of people.

A recent example comes to mind: the Super Bowl. The championship game in American football is a popular event to watch in the United States. A lot of people know about the Super Bowl, watch it, and enjoy it.

So, we could say the United States has a population of over 300 million people. We could also say the Super Bowl is one of the country's most popular sporting events.

Another way of describing the difference between the words "population" and "popular" is in terms of grammar. Population is a noun. Popular is an adjective.

Consider this example. Taylor Swift is a popular musician. Why is Swift popular? Because a large percentage of the population knows about Swift and enjoys the singer's music.


Let's take some time to work with these ideas. Fill in the blank with the correct answer.

Cricket is a ______________ sport in India.

The answer is this: popular.

We can say that cricket is a popular sport in India.

Grammar can give us a clue about the answer. The short word "a" very often marks the beginning of a noun phrase. If we know that "sport" is a noun, then the missing word is likely to be an adjective.

Now, consider another question. Fill in the blank with the correct answer.

Vietnam has a _________ of around 100 million people.

The answer is this: population.

We say that Vietnam has a population of around 100 million people. We can guess that "population" is the correct term because the statement offers the number of all the people in a group — the people who live in Vietnam.

Write to us

We began today's lesson by asking you to imagine a person or activity that is liked or enjoyed by many people that you know. In other words, we asked you to imagine something that is popular in your country.

We end by asking you to write about what you imagined. Write to us a short answer to the following questions:

What is a popular person, thing, or activity in your country? Why do you think the person, thing, or activity is popular?

You can write your answer in an email to learningenglish@voanews.com.

In a future lesson, we will give feedback on some of the writing we receive.

I'm John Russell.

John Russell wrote this lesson for VOA Learning English.


Words in This Story

phrase – n. a group of two or more words that express an idea but do not make up a sentence

feedback – n. helpful information that is given to someone to say what can be done to improve