Category 1: PAPER
One unit of paper is called a sheet of paper or a piece of paper.
If the paper has horizontal lines on it, then it is called lined paper or notebook paper. If it has squares, then it is graph paper. And if it has no lines or squares, then it is plain paper.
Some special types of papers are:
- wax paper – covered with wax to make it waterproof
- wrapping paper – decorative paper used to wrap gifts
- paper towels – a thick, absorbent paper usually used in the kitchen
- toilet paper – used in the bathroom, for personal hygiene
Three actions you can do with paper:
- fold a piece of paper
- crumple up a piece of paper
- rip/tear a piece of paper
If you rip / tear a piece of paper up into small pieces, these are called scraps of paper:
Category 2: PAPER = NEWSPAPER
Sometimes we use the word paper as a short form for newspaper. For example:
- Did you read today’s paper?
- The TV guide is published in the Sunday paper.
- The scandal was all over the papers.
(= published in many different newspapers)
- My brother writes for the local paper.
(= he is a journalist who writes articles for the local newspaper)
Category 3: PAPERS = OFFICIAL DOCUMENTS
This is often used for documents involving identification, immigration, import/export, divorce, dismissal, and other official transactions:
- We had to show the immigration agent our papers.
- The divorce is almost finalized; we just need to sign the papers.
- Exporting goods is easier if you have all the papers in order.
(in order = correct and organized)
- She got her walking papers last week; now she’s looking for a new job.
(walking papers = a slang term for a written notice of dismissal)
Category 4: PAPER = ACADEMIC WRITING
Teachers often ask students to write a paper as an assignment for class. If the writing assignment requires research/investigation, it is called a research paper.
The students turn in their papers (give them to the teacher); the teacher grades the papers (evaluates them and gives an official rating) and hands the papers back (gives them back to the students).
The word paper can also refer to an academic article published in an official professional journal. Scholars may write a first draft of the paper and have their colleagues review it and make suggestions for improvement. They can then revise it and send in the final draft of the paper for publication.
After the paper is published, other professionals/scientists can discuss the paper. The original writer might also have the chance to present the paper at a conference.