Whether you’re keen on writing or just want to improve your vocabulary there’s different ways to do so. Depending on education, upbringing, work and reading interest and ability, people have differing levels of vocabulary. Knowing what words to use when helps with confidence, as well as how others react to you.
Facts about English vocabulary
There are four types of vocabulary: listening, speaking, reading, and writing
There are roughly 100,000 word families in the English language.
A native English speaking person knows between 10,000 (uneducated) to 20,000 (educated) word families.
A person needs to know 8,000-9,000 word families to enjoy reading a book.
Literary geniuses: Victor Hugo used an active vocabulary of 38,000 words; Shakespeare, 24,000; and Homer, 8,500
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Tips to improve your vocabulary
1, Read – the obvious answer. But read more voraciously, and more widely. Different genres, different authors, different types of reading materials.
2, Play word games – crosswords, anagrams, Wordle, scrabble.
3, Watch Countdown – more word game opportunities, find out new words from the contestants answers, as well as trying your own.
4, Flip the dictionary each day to find a new word – learn a new word everyday (and try and use it).
5, Talk to different people from different outlooks and ask them about their work
6, Write – ideally for different audiences or different types of writing to increase the style and way you write. If you write in the same ‘voice’ each time, you’ll be restricted in your vocabulary
7, Use mnemonics to help remember new phrases and spellings. I still remember the order of the planets from a mnemonic we had to make up in year 8 Geography (well, I only remember 7 of the 9 words in my mnemonic, but I still remembered the planets…it was pre-Pluto’s removal!)
8, Offer to proof read someone else’s work or copy of a book.
9, Have children – extreme, but having young children means you get asked a lot about words and their meanings. Despite studying english up to and through the 1st year of my university degree, I had still never heard of fronted adverbials or phonemes until my son talked about them after school. If you don’t have them, talk to children of friends when you have the opportunity
10, Study another language – this helps understand how languages develop, how they borrow words from each other, as well as helping you tune in to listening to other words and conversations.
11, Use a thesaurus for all new words you learn. You don’t just learn the word, but understand the meaning, context, and other words that mean the same (synonym) or the opposite (antonym)
12, Use apps – there’s so many word and vocabulary apps available which are particularly good for children.
Do you actively look to improve your vocabulary?