If you spend all day emailing your friends, you may not need a large vocabulary.
But if you’re working and socializing in the real world, a good vocabulary is an invaluable asset. And if you like to solve crossword puzzles and games, a good vocabulary is essential. Here are some simple ways you can improve yours.
1. Don’t play dumb: stretch
If you are reading this article, you are already thinking that your vocabulary could improve. That means you have to expose yourself to new words from new sources. If you’re currently reading Nancy Drew mysteries, for example, reach out to Agatha Christie. If you only read soap opera updates in the newspaper, try reading a few editorial columns.
Try to read short articles, stories, and books that are a bit intimidating. Then keep a dictionary nearby or stay connected to an online dictionary while you read. And remember, just because you haven’t seen a word before doesn’t mean you can’t figure out its meaning. If you reread the word in context, you can often figure out its meaning from the words around it.
2. Don’t be afraid of intellectuals
Just as you may need to work on reading materials, it can also help to work on conversations with people who have large vocabulary. As you hear others use new words correctly, you will gain confidence in how to use them yourself.
If one of your friends has an amazing command of the language, they won’t mind if you ask them, “What was that word? I don’t think I’ve ever heard it before.” Then ask him to explain it. You’ll learn something useful, and your friend will enjoy the glow of knowing something someone else values.
3. Don’t discount the value of puns
- The quintessential Reader’s Digest column, the power of the word, it has worked for decades. It provides challenging words on a single topic, along with answers and explanations. If you don’t subscribe to the magazine, visit their website or pick up a copy the next time you visit the doctor’s office.
- Crossword puzzles and other clue-based word games are a great way to build and practice vocabulary. Sometimes you will learn new meanings for words you already know. While word search puzzles can be fun for some, they usually don’t include the meanings of the words, so their benefit is minimal at best.
- Great activity can be found online at www.FreeRice.com. In “options” you can choose a starting level. You are given a vocabulary word with 4 choices of definitions. If you get an answer wrong, you can choose to receive the same word again a bit later until you get it right. For every correct definition you choose, the site donates 20 grains of rice through the United Nations World Food Program to help end hunger.
So think about how best to expand your lexicon, and soon your confidants and colleagues will be completely stunned!