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Your English: Word grammar: cross

Type: Article

If word grammar is making you cross, let Tim Bowen help you out.

In addition to its primary uses as a verb and a noun, cross can be used as an adjective and a prefix.

The adjective cross is another word for ‘angry’, as in ‘The neighbours got cross every time the ball went into their garden’. One can be cross about something and cross with someone, as in ‘She’s still cross with me for lying about the broken window’.  

The prefix cross- can be used with some nouns and adjectives to mean ‘across’, as in ‘There is a lot of cross-border traffic in this area’ and ‘She’s a cross-country skiing champion’. It can also be used with some nouns, verbs and adjectives to mean ‘involving different things’, e.g. cross-cultural and cross-training.

Apart from its more common meanings, the verb cross can be used to mean to oppose someone or to disagree with them, as in ‘He was a tough character and no-one ever dared cross him’ or ‘Don’t cross her, whatever you do. You’ll regret it if you do’. 

An animal that is a mixture of two different breeds can be referred to as a cross, as in ‘That’s a nice looking dog. What is he?’  ’He’s a Staffordshire-collie cross’. Similarly, something that contains the qualities of two different groups or types can be described as a cross, as in ‘Their music is a cross between jazz and rock’. The expression We all have our cross(es) to bear is used to refer to something unpleasant that someone has to deal with, especially continuously for a long time, as in ‘Are you still working for the same company?’  ’Yes. We all have our crosses to bear’.

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