How Can I Increase My Vocabulary?

How can I increase my vocabulary? Speak and write with more confidence by learning the meanings of new words. Adding to your vocabulary can be very rewarding.

Have you ever been talking to someone when he or she utters a word you haven't heard? What do you do? Admit that you don't know the meaning? Risk answering the question improperly? Or just smile and hope for the best?

There is a way you can increase your vocabulary so that you can avoid these embarrassing situations. Incorporate the tips below into your lifestyle and talk or write with more confidence than ever before.

1. Have dictionary, will travel. Keep a pocket dictionary in your purse, pocket or car. When you see or hear a word you don't know, look it up (not while driving). But don't stop once you've looked it up. You have to feel comfortable USING the word.

Make it a point to use your new word three times the day you heard it, and every day thereafter for two weeks. Use it when you write. Use it when you speak. After two weeks, try to use it at least once a day.

2. Carry a thesaurus, too. Are you stuck in the rut of using the same adjectives, like pretty, nice, beautiful, smart, or stupid? Life would be so much more exciting if you would branch out into the use of synonyms, words that mean the same but are different. Instead of describe someone who gave money as nice, use the word "philanthropist," or "generous." Stop yourself when using the same words time after time. The thesaurus can be an intellectually stimulating companion.

3. Buy a vocabulary book. There are many available at bookstores or on the Internet. These books take you through a process to build a vocabulary. Many people prefer the books that use root words as a guide. In some ways, this may be similar to studying Latin, but don't let that scare you off. By learning root words, you can determine the meaning of virtually any new word.



4. Incorporate "Word Night" into your dinner routine. Once a week, assign everyone in the family (or at your dinner table) the task of bringing a new word to the meal. Each person must look up the new word, define it, talk about its root and use it at the table. Keep a running log of these words and use them regularly.

5. Stop, look and listen when reading books. Many times, as we read, we encounter new words. The simple thing to do is either ignore it or determine its meaning through the context in which it is used. The more effective response, however, is to stop reading at once. Look up the new word in the dictionary, and treat it like any other new word (i.e. use it three times a day for two weeks). Use it when you speak and when you write.

Also, take a step back and examine the books you are reading. If you are reading the same types of books (romance novels by the same author, for example) you are probably reading the same words over and over. Branch out. Try a new author, or new type of book. Switch to non-fiction for a while. Read about current events.

6. Do crossword puzzles. After doing the same puzzles (in the same newspaper, that is) you will learn the writer's style and you will pick up a few new words.

7. Play word games in the car. When you are stopped at a light and notice a billboard, think of how it could be written with a synonym. It may not work for the ad, but it may make you laugh.

8. Look at the magazines you are reading. If it's the same few you've read for years, look at what else is out there. News magazines will use different words than women's magazines. Business magazines will have their own language altogether. Pick up new magazines at the store or on airplanes. And be sure to refer to your dictionary for guidance.

9. Make word games a part of going out with friends. Talk about new words you've learned, or play a game where the challenge is to say a word that no one understands.

10. Take up a hobby. Hobbies have languages all their own, so you will learn new words just by learning a new skill.

Most of all, be conscious of your written and verbal style. Stop yourself if you always say, "She is nice," or "She is pretty." Think of synonyms and use them.

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