Not having the right word at your disposal can be quite frustrating. Actually it is problem that confounds veteran journalists as well as beginner learners. Sometimes, it is just a matter of not being able to recall the right word; sometimes you never knew the word.
Language is power. Building a vocabulary that can meet the needs of one’s reading and self-expression has to be the goal of every aspiring writer and speaker. So how does one build a strong vocabulary? Here are a few tips
Make word charts
Write down unfamiliar words that you discover in newspapers and books on durable pieces of paper. Look up these words when you have a dictionary at your disposal. Against each word, write down its definition. Pursue words consciously. Read journals that challenge you in terms of vocabulary.
Carry this paper with you always. Take it out and review your vocabulary when you are sitting on the bus or waiting at the doctor’s clinic. Review those words until you become comfortable that you will be able to recognize them the next time you see them.
Use every available resource
There are plenty of books on building a more powerful vocabulary. If you have got money to spare, buy them and use them. They won’t hurt. If money is tight, head to websites offering free vocabulary lessons.
Play dictionary games with your friends and family. Ask a friend to find a neat word from the dictionary. Do you know the definition of that word? If you are imaginative, build your own vocabulary games.
Use a thesaurus
A thesaurus is a dictionary of synonyms. It groups words according to their meaning. A thesaurus can be very helpful in discovering the right word you were looking for. You should be able to buy an inexpensive thesaurus from most book stores. You can also find hyperlinked thesauruses online.
When you hear a word that puzzles you ask the speaker what it means. Most people wouldn’t mind giving an explanation. If they do seem to bother, write down the word and look it up later.
Learn the roots
A large number of words in the English language have their roots in Greek and Latin. Knowing these roots will help you to grasp the meanings of words.
Make good use of your dictionary
Make that dictionary your constant companion. It should be one of the most often used among your books. Place the dictionary somewhere so that you can find it easily. If you do your reading in the bedroom, put it on a shelf or on the table in the bedroom itself.
A good dictionary should contain extensive definitions, word origins and notes on usage. A pocket dictionary that gives concise definitions is also a good idea. You can carry it around in your purse or backpack.
Use the internet
Plenty of reading materials are available on the internet. Choose good online magazines and newspapers. Make it a habit to read at least one major article a week with the objective of culling from it words that are unfamiliar to you.