Improving your vocabulary

Improving your vocabulary has become incredibly easy in recent years, with the introduction of many accessible and convenient ways to discover new words, like phone or laptop applications, online ‘word of the day’ websites, or even just using the ‘synonyms’ option on Microsoft Word. Below is a list of ideas you can use to improve the range of vocabulary that you use:

  • Applications (apps) on mobile phones, such as ones offering a word of the day option can encourage you to try alternative words to what you would normally use. There are also many dictionaries that you can download, some of which may also offer word of the day, or can just be used to look up words or synonyms.
  • You can find lots of different gimmicks that supply a word of the day, such as calendars, tissues, and toilet roll. Each time you are given a new word that you think could be useful to remember, write it down in a vocabulary journal.
  • Several websites offer a sign up word of the day section, where you will be emailed daily with a new word and its definition.
  • Many smartphones now have a feature where you can highlight a word and find its definition.
  • When reading books, it is a good idea to research any words that you do not know the meaning of in a dictionary or online. Firstly, this helps you to better understand your book, but it can also be useful for improving vocabulary in general. When there are words that you think you may find useful, note them down in a vocabulary journal.
  • The same can be done when reading newspapers, magazines, articles, etc., repeating the process of researching the word’s definition and writing it down.
  • Putting subtitles on when watching TV or movies can help you to actually acknowledge what words are being used, and you never know – some may come up that you have never heard of, which you can then look up.
  • A fun way to improve your vocabulary is to do crosswords. Either buy a book or do the ones that come free in the newspaper. When you have filled in all of the words that you can, start trying to find the others online or in a dictionary. Over time, you should start to find crosswords easier to complete as your range of vocabulary increases.
  • Synonyms are alternative words that can be used in place of a word you want to change. Synonyms can be found on Microsoft Word by typing a word, and then right-clicking on it and selecting ‘synonyms’. A good idea is to keep a list of synonyms for words you use regularly in your work to help improve your vocabulary.