Improving Vocabulary in Three Easy Steps

There are close to one million words in the English language. That’s a lot of words! Too many words for even dictionaries to list (most dictionaries confine themselves to several hundred thousand words). However, the more words you know and use correctly, the higher your perceived education level. In fact, most college graduates do use a wider variety of words. Not only is a broad vocabulary impressive, understanding the definitions and nuances of words helps you understand better and communicate more effectively.

The English language is constantly changing. Words go out of fashion and slip from common usage. New words are always being added. Words get adopted from other languages or are developed to describe a new technology or phenomenon. Keep up with the changes and broaden your basis in the large body of words which continue in usage. You will certainly benefit from making a conscious effort to learn words which are new to you.

You can learn new words by sitting down with a dictionary and working through it from A to Z. You can also get word lists from vocabulary building books which are available at the library or bookstores. However, in both of these methods, you learn words from someone else’s priority list. Instead, focus on the words you need to know. Use the steps outlined below to enrich your vocabulary with the words which will mean the most to you – those you encounter every day.

Jot down new words. For the next twenty-four hours, write down any words you read or hear which you do not know. Read the normal items you read like the newspaper, magazines, books, educational material, work material, and advertisements on TV. Any word you come across in your daily activities which you cannot precisely define, add it to your list. Be honest with yourself. Most of us guess a word’s meaning from the context in which we see or hear it used. If you could not explain the exact definition of the word to your best friend, add it to your list. Try to find at least twenty words. As you write the words down, leave several blank lines before you write the next word.

Look it up. You may have heard your mother say this to you when you asked her what a word meant. Well, it isn’t an original idea, but it does work. Look each word up in the dictionary. Write down the definition in your notebook. Look at the synonyms if there are any. Jot those down as well. If you want to be really thorough, annotate whether the word is a verb or a noun (it could even be both).

Be a writer. To firmly set the definitions of these new words in your mind, you now need to use them. Practice writing them so you get the spelling correct. Write at least ten sentences which include the word using the definition correctly. You will have more confidence using a word when you can write it correctly and easily use it in a sentence.

Make this process of learning new words a part of your regular routine. If you repeat this process once a week for a year, you will have 1,040 new words in your vocabulary. You can improve your vocabulary. Get started today!

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