Expand Your Vocabulary Every Day
Oftentimes, the difference between a mediocre book and a great book is the richness of the language used. As a writer, expanding your vocabulary should be one of your full-time jobs, to ensure that your book contains a plethora of colorful words that will make it read like a well-crafted masterpiece instead of an everyday story. When it comes to building a full vocabulary, there are many techniques you can use every day that don't take a lot of time or effort.
Lists and Flashcards
First of all, create a word list of words you encounter that you don't know. Study the word list each night until you feel comfortable using the words in everyday conversation. Words can be marked off your study list when you know them, and new ones that you don't know can be added. This living document will help you expand your vocabulary quicker than you ever thought possible. Imagine, if you simply learn three words a night, you can learn 21 new words in a week!
Some find it easier to learn with flashcards than with a list. Your flashcards can function the same way, with words being removed from the pile when you learn them and added when you don't know them.
So, where do you find these unknown words? A simple way to find words to expand your vocabulary is to read a lot of newspapers, magazines, and books. Instead of skipping over words with unclear meanings, add them to your list and look them up. Historical literature is an excellent way to find words that aren't often used anymore that can make your book more interesting. Be sure to read things that challenge you and encourage you to grow as a reader/writer. For example, reading speeches by historical world leaders will bring words to the surface that you wouldn't encounter in modern reading material. Don't limit yourself to one era or genre. Each time period or type of literature will introduce you to vocabulary that you still need to learn.
A great way to challenge yourself is by trying to guess the meaning of an unknown word before looking it up. Learn to recognize root words and build meaning from prefixes or suffixes. Also, look at context to form a possible definition. Spending some extra time with the word before actually looking it up will help you remember it for later use.
You can make your learning experience fun by playing word games such as Boggle and Scrabble. These games encourage you to think outside of your common vocabulary in order to win. You'll learn a lot and exercise your brain while having a great time. Crossword puzzles are also a great way to use words you wouldn't otherwise think of using. Many times, the first word that comes to mind isn't the correct answer, and you're forced to dig deeper into your mental dictionary. These challenging word puzzles help you use your newfound vocabulary so it sticks with you.
Lots of e-mail providers and Web sites have a "word of the day" application that will generate a new word for you to learn each day. This makes finding unknown vocabulary simple. The Google homepage has an application that will give you a new word and definition each time you visit Google. These tools are excellent to use in conjunction with other learning methods.
Some desk calendars feature a new word each day. These can be magnificent tools to place on your desk and to help you find new words to add to your list of new vocabulary.
The only way to truly commit your new words to memory is to use them in conversation. Of course, to avoid embarrassment, be sure you know how to pronounce the word correctly before using it. Getting a dictionary with a simple pronunciation guide is the best way to ensure that you know how to say the word the right way. To remember a new word, try to actually say it at least a couple times a day so it sticks in your brain.
With all the new words you'll have learned, it may be tempting to incorporate them as much as possible into your writing. Remember, don't use a word just for the sake of using it. Make sure vocabulary you're using adds to the story and doesn't bog down your writing or confuse your readers. Your words should be carefully chosen and work for the story.
Above all, remember to have fun learning more about the English language and further perfecting your writing.