Friday, June 1, 2018

Tips to Improve your Vocabulary


Words, written or spoken, are thoughts. You need vocabulary to express your thoughts or to understand those of others. You can express your thoughts without grammar but you cannot do so without words. Even illiterate persons appreciate the importance of vocabulary though their concept of vocabulary may not be so “rich” as the literate persons perceive it.

When you speak or write, the listener/reader is impressed by the richness and skilful use of your vocabulary and knowingly or unknowingly judges your capabilities. The other way, rich vocabulary helps you to effortlessly comprehend the thoughts expressed no sooner they strike to the mind. Rich vocabulary is very important “to understand” or “to be understood”. Given the equal professional knowledge amongst the peers, a better vocabulary stand an individual in good stead. These few words should be enough to change the perception of the persons who underestimate the importance of a rich vocabulary. Needless to state that a rich vocabulary is a valuable asset for success.

It cannot be gainsaid that formal education, one’s mother tongue, medium of instructions in school and college education plays vital role in building up vocabulary but these do not guarantee a good vocabulary. What guarantees a good vocabulary is one’s consistent effort irrespective of the factors mentioned before. Nobody has missed the bus. Building up a rich vocabulary is a quest, full of consistent efforts. Not only that, lexical wealth of complacent persons would diminish with passage of time if they do not nurture it.

Tips to enrich the vocabulary:


Computer and Mobile have wonderful lexical capabilities with lots of convenience. However, they cannot substitute a good dictionary for an avid “pupil” of vocabulary. Buy a good dictionary published by a reputed publisher and use it.

(2) READ:

Research has proved that reading, with an eye on improving vocabulary, is an important tool to enrich word power. This equally applies for mother tongue or “second language”.  For all round development of vocabulary, read on variety of subjects from various sources e.g. news papers, magazines, fictions, non-fictions, etc.


As soon as you come across an unknown word, try to infer the meaning of the word from the context in which it is used and then refer to the dictionary and jot down the word with its meaning in a diary.  Prepare the diary with a separate page for each alphabetic letter – like a telephone diary. This helps avoid duplication and easy reference in future.


While looking for the meaning (definition) of an unknown word in the dictionary look into the etymology of the word. Good dictionaries narrate how the word is originated with its root, suffix, prefix, plural, verb forms, etc after giving the meaning of the word. This helps to relate the unknown word with the cognate words and memorize them. The etymology of most of the words have interesting tale-tell story reinforcing the meaning in your memory.


Find out how you can use the new word learnt in place of the words you are presently using. Whenever, possible use the new words and see yourself how they make your expression more effective.


Mnemonics are tricks to help remember the word, particularly when it is ticklish or confusing with its cognates. These tricks serve the purposes best when they are self-devised. Many nouns have irregular plural e.g. goose, plural geese and many such others. When singular and plural are confusing (e.g. foot - feet, goose – geese) a simple mnemonics to member which is singular and which is plural is: one has an o in its spelling so the noun with an o is singular because number one has an o. Depending upon your resourcefulness, you can devise mnemonics based on rhyme, logic, spelling, pronunciation, relation, events, celebrities, etc.


If you love dictionary, you would also love thesaurus. Unlike dictionaries, they provide synonyms, antonyms, etc. While a dictionary defines a word, a thesaurus gives a choice of words for each entry. A thesaurus is helpful for selection of exact words that convey the message in a better way. This helps  appreciate and differentiate  “subtle shades” of meaning of different words apparently conveying similar message e.g. the verbs to kill, to murder, to assassinate, to execute, etc suggest that one person causes death of an another one but each verb has specific meaning and context.


Such books are also helpful in enriching your vocabulary. In some such books, the words are listed with its meaning. Remembering them and using them in right context makes it bit difficult as they are in a listing format, not used in a contextual text. While in some books, the words are grouped “concept wise” and used in text (some time in an amusing anecdote) explaining the meaning.  Such a presentation is very helpful in sustaining our interest in reading such books.


Information Technology has made ocean of knowledge available with just few clicks away. Sign up “A Word a day in your inbox” email, Play Word Games and Quizzes, Get Lost in Crossword puzzles. Challenge yourself with vocabulary test and evaluate how much your efforts have paid. Watching TV programmes (news, fictions, movies etc) with subtitles of the audio is also useful for developing the vocabulary. While watching, jot down the difficult words and explore them after the programme is over.


Learn roots, prefixes, and suffixes. Many words in the English language are derived from Latin or Greek roots. Many words are derived from the same root. Concomitantly, if you know the root, you can easily understand and remember the meaning of the word derived from that root. Greek root hydro (water) has given: Hydrogen, Hydrophobia, hydroponic, hydrotherapy, hydraulics, hydroplane, dehydrate, hydrosphere, etc. Knowledge of roots coupled with the knowledge of suffixes and prefixes are crucial for building up a rich vocabulary. Scientific and technological words are mainly coined from Greek or Latin roots with suggestive suffixes or prefixes.

It is found that most of the persons are facing embarrassing situations during each stage of life for want of a sufficient vocabulary. Rather than equipping ourselves, we find out some soft option – consult a friend or colleague, refer to dictionary, surf the internet, knowingly tolerate the linguistic errors, etc. Now stop it. It is never late to mend.


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