Do you have ideas in your mind but find it challenging to put it across in paper or even to your friends? If yes, then you probably are in a shortage of words and need to improve your vocabulary.
Communication is an integral part of our life, and lacking vocabulary can put you in great trouble.
While this is true in daily life, how do you feel when you can’t get it right on paper but are passionate about becoming a writer?
It’s a struggle not only for you but also for the readers who find it difficult to understand what you are trying to establish in your blogs, novels, or any other form of writing.
Believe me, improving your vocabulary isn’t as complicated as you think. You can gradually expand your vocab skills in simple ways that are also fun-filled.
Here are 21 Proven Ways to Improve Your Vocabulary.
1. Use New Words
Every time you come across a new word and feel good about knowing its meaning, try to use it immediately to remember it forever.
Believe me; this is the best you can do to remember the word.
It could be tactically inserted in the email, in your conversation with your friend, in your personal dictionary, or while communicating with someone at the office.
I suggest that you repeat the word to yourself and even try to use it in your latest blog post or social media post if you find it appropriate. Your stock of vocabulary is bound to skyrocket in no time.
2. Reading Is the Key To Improve Your Vocabulary
To me, writing is an art that requires an extensive skill set.
We read books and novels for gaining insight into a topic, but most times, it’s for fun. Why don’t you pursue the same path and have some fun while learning from what you read?
Get rid of the assumption that reading and writing stop when we graduate from college. You could make it a habit to read a small para from your daily newspaper, magazine, some book, or anything that you prefer.
My only suggestion is that you pick something well-written and grammatically correct.
If you don’t understand the meaning of any word, I am sure most of us have continued reading, guessing its meaning using the tone of the sentence.
Why don’t you check if your understanding is right by looking for its meaning in the dictionary?
To me, this is an integral way to expand my vocabulary skills.
Well, if you hesitate to stop in between reading as this could hinder your reading flow, you can always jot the word in your personal dictionary and ensure whether your assumed meaning is right later on.
3. Understand Root Words
Roots help establish a concrete foundation for anything -it could be a plant that grows from the roots, a family that evolves knowing about its roots, or even finding solutions to some problem by analyzing its root cause.
Likewise, you can establish your niche as a language expert by getting to learn the roots of words.
Surprisingly, more than 50% of the English vocabulary is derived from Latin or Greek language; more precisely, it is Latin when we look at most words except for some mathematical and political terms.
So, if you strengthen your understanding of the root language, there are higher chances that you will find it easier to figure out new English words.
For instance, take the three words ‘Transport,’ ‘Transgress,’ and ‘Transaction.’ All three words have the word ‘trans’ commonly occurring, which is derived from the Latin word meaning ‘across.’
Learning one root word can help you understand multiple words that originate from it.
Search for common root words, prefixes, and suffixes and remember them. State your list of known words that have a similar root to get clarity.
Having a strong command over root words not only helps you solidify the connections in your brain but also helps you guess the appropriate meanings of the vocabulary that you come across in the future.
Discover the etymology of words to make your learning process immensely fun-filled and memorable. I’m sure this method will improve your vocabulary and understanding of the English language.
4. Learn A New Word Daily
Soon after you decide to enrich your vocabulary, take an oath to learn at least one new word every day without fail.
This way, you reap an ocean of benefits in a short course of time with expanded vocabulary skills.
You could subscribe to a vocabulary website to get regular updates in your inbox, use the Word of the Day calendar, or even simply pick a word from the thesaurus.
5. Try Being an Artist and Expand Your Vocabulary
Artists try their hands on different color combinations and come up with unique colors that they use to paint.
Like an artist, you can try using different words to express yourself every time you want to convey something.
Doing this, you get to understand various circumstances in which the word could be used and get a hang on its connotation too.
For instance, the word ‘beautiful’ has different synonyms, including ‘delightful,’ ‘lovely,’ ‘sublime,’ ‘bewitching,’ and more. But not all of them can be used in every circumstance.
Get yourself familiarized with them to know their use in different ways.
6. Maintain a Dictionary
Do you remember the good old days when you used to maintain a dictionary of new words that you either come across in your textbooks or novels?
Let me tell you that this is an ideal way to learn new words and improve your vocabulary skills.
Get yourself the classic-styled pen and paper or create a new memo in your mobile adding new words as you learn.
While it is indispensable that you learn new words to improve vocabulary, it is equally necessary that you keep revising them repetitively to strengthen your memory and understand the usage of whatever new words you have learned.
Soon after you learn a set of words, please ensure to revise every word several times to elevate your learning experience and stay at par with fellow writers. Who knows, you may even get ready to accept the NaNoWriMo challenge next year.
8. Read From a Variety of Topics
I agree that you might be versatile in a specific niche and looking forward to writing your blogs or books on the same. But, reading the same stuff and repeated genres every day will never help you enhance your vocabulary.
Be open and extend your reading list to include anything from poems, literature, science, philosophy, politics, and crime.
9. Associate Words
If you learn a new word, I suggest that you say it aloud a couple of times to get to your mind. Then, associate the word with some other word that you are already familiar with.
For instance, if your new word is ‘abominable,’ do link it with other words you know, such as ‘bad,’ ‘unacceptable,’ ‘dreadful,’ ‘lousy,’ etc.
10. Play Word Games
What can be more fun-filled than playing word games?
Word games instantly remind us of Scrabble.
You could even make your own game – all that’s needed is yourself and your friend and family.
Start with a new word and ask the other player to say another word beginning with the end letter of your word. Make this trickier by taking turns telling the meaning of the words that you utter.
You could even challenge each other to come up with the maximum number of synonyms possible for any word that either of you say.
The whole point here is to improvise on your gaming strategy, bring in creativity, and add a fun element to make it a joyous yet fruitful learning experience to both of you.
Else, purchase word games that could help you too.
11. Make Use of Flashcards
Many of us have seen primary grade teachers using flashcards to teach alphabets and numbers to little ones.
Apply the same to your learning process too.
Pick a list of words centered around a common theme and make flashcards to help you remember them.
Remember, when done strategically, flashcards help you and your partners immensely improve on your vocabulary.
12. Make New Friends
Communication is the key to learning new stuff.
Make friends, specifically, choose pals from around the globe to understand how they think and communicate.
This not only helps you learn new ways to sell your ideas but also get to know what kind of writing reaches people across the globe.
After all you want your blog or novel to have a global reach. Don’t you?
13. Try Word Puzzles
I’ve seen retired people sitting down with a pen or pencil and the daily newspaper enthusiastic about solving the day’s word puzzle.
This activity is not only a superb time pass but also offers the perfect platform for boosting your vocabulary.
You make use of all that you’ve learned trying to retrieve new words from memory and using it in your vocabulary, which helps you use them in your writing.
14. Strip Away Redundant Words
We generally use certain common words such as “uh,” “um,” and many more often, which could be called empty words.
Your writing also is sure to contain many such empty words that don’t enhance the goodness of the content.
Remove such words and rephrase sentences such that they are short but crisp in conveying what you want. In this way, you will be forced to search and introduce new words in your writing.
15. Try Mobile Apps for Vocabulary
Maybe it’s time to use your smartphone for better.
Learn a word or two every day by installing some of the most useful vocabulary building apps such as Vocabulary.com, Magoosh Vocabulary Builder, A Word A Day Widget, 7 Little Words, Words with Friends, and likewise.
Rather than allocating a dedicated time for this, I suggest that you enrich your vocab skills exploring these apps while drinking your morning coffee or even while waiting for someone.
16. Make Use of Mnemonics
Mnemonics have been quite controversial in its use for learning a language, but it could be your go-to trick to remember tons of new words.
Make a funny sentence using the word’s meaning or link words that are related to the new word.
You could also use acronyms, rhymes, form stories, and likewise as a memory tactic.
17. Write Synonymic Words Together
We all have our favorite words, and as a writer, I understand that you might be using certain words repetitively.
To avoid this, either use a thesaurus or your memory to recollect similar words that you know and note them in your personal dictionary to replace your regularly used words with these words.
Learning new words from a dictionary is different from observing the circumstances in which they could be used.
When you identify their usage in poetry, movies, science, etc., you get a clear picture of how to insert them at appropriate places in your writing endeavor.
19. Motivation is Key
Whatever you do, I insist that you stay motivated throughout the process without which you cannot guarantee success.
Motivation is indispensable for doing anything new, especially when you are learning a new language or improving your vocabulary.
Believe in yourself, and be self-motivated to achieve greatness and surpass your goals.
20. Set a Goal
To stay motivated on something, you need to set a primary goal.
You might start with wanting to learn new words to enrich your vocabulary but mostly tend to fail as you miss on setting short-term goals.
For instance, set a word count on the total number of words you promise to learn each day or each month. By doing this, you can be proud of your progress and ensure that you continuously keep learning to become proficient.
21. Edit Your Work
Editing is vital to improve your writing style and bring clarity to it.
Identify empty and repetitive words, use your memory to replace them with your newly learned words, and replace complex phrases with simpler ones to lure the reader’s attention.
You can swap your editing work with a colleague as a new set of eyes is always better to find mistakes in your write-ups. Moreover, both of you learn from this process and make space for improvements.
Words are the building blocks from which you gain expertise and knowledge about any language. If you genuinely wish to become a good writer, I recommend taking your vocabulary skills seriously and working on improving them with zeal.
Vocabulary might be just one of the tools for a writer but an indispensable tool that serves the primary purpose of putting forth your thoughts in a meaningful yet simple way.
Expanding your vocabulary doesn’t mean making use of sophisticated and uncommon words that have rarely been used. It is choosing appropriate words that crisply deliver your message.
In the article above, I tried to emphasize on some habits that can expand your vocabulary.
I hope you use these practical ways to improve your vocabulary and become skillful in using appropriate words to communicate better with your readers. You are surrounded by opportunities. All you must do is take the initiative to make use of them, stay motivated, work hard, read daily, and achieve clarity in your writing -something you’ve been dreaming about ever since you wanted to write.