Read. There is no way around it. Reading is the number one way to expand your current vocabulary. Sounds easy, right? Yes, but there are strategies on how to increase your vocabulary through reading. So continue perusing this article to know more.
- Purchase a comprehensive dictionary and a thesaurus. The dictionary or lexicon provides you with the meaning of words and phrase. The thesaurus gives you a list of synonyms (words that have the same meaning) and antonyms (words that mean the opposite) for a given word. Both are quite useful in expanding your vocabulary.
- Buy a book. Get a book that is one level higher than the type of books you normally read. If you typically go for popular detective stories, this time, grab a copy of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Try novels by Jane Austen like Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility if you are a romantic at heart. Choosing literary classics is a good way to reacquaint yourself with important literary works and at the same time increase your vocabulary.
- Read your book. Find a quiet spot where you can curl up and concentrate. When you come across a word that you don’t understand, try to deduce what it means through how it was used in the sentence. Look for context clues. Compare your idea of the meaning of the word with the definition in your dictionary.
- Write the words and their definitions. A more effective way of remembering the meaning of an unfamiliar word or phrase is to actually write the word on a sheet of paper or better yet, a notebook. Next, look up the meaning and then write it down next to word or phrase. This may seem to be a waste of time but it is actually a good vocabulary building exercise. By writing the words and the definitions down, you can review the list at a later time.
- Make reading a daily habit. Allot a few minutes for reading. Be sure to bring your book around with you if you know that you will be waiting in between appointments. You can read your book while waiting outside your doctor’s office or during lunch break if you work fulltime. Make sure to take note of the words that you don’t understand and look them up in your dictionary when you have a chance. If your phone can access the Internet, you can always look up the meaning of a word online.
- Do word games. Crossword puzzles and other word games are great vocabulary building exercises. If the daily crossword in the newspaper is a bit difficult, you can buy crosswords magazines that have easy, medium and hard puzzles. You can also find word games online.
- Subscribe to websites that provide a ‘word of the day.’ You can find many websites that will send you the word of the day together with the pronunciation, meaning, etymology and more. Once you sign-up and an email will be sent to you daily. Some websites also have word games and other vocabulary exercises. Try these sites:
- Merriam Webster.com
- Oxford English Dictionary.com
Expanding your vocabulary takes commitment, time, a good book and a good dictionary. On your first attempt at increasing your vocabulary, make sure to choose a book whose subject matter is of interest to you. This will make it easier for you invest time and effort into read the book. Keep your dictionary close by so you can easily look up new words and phrases. Happy reading!