Building Vocabulary

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If you happen to read a lot, jotting down words you don’t know—and learning what they mean—is a great idea. Here are some others:

1. Use Free Rice or Vocabulary.com for practice (or to gain exposure to new words).

2. Make mnemonics for the tricky words that you have a tough time remembering.

3. Use the words daily in your writing, texts, emails, and conversations.

The last tip is the most helpful one. Unfortunately, many people (especially students) feel “awkward” or “uncomfortable” using smart words with friends. They come up with excuses like “I don’t want my friends to think I’m weird because I use ‘mendacious’ and ‘lugubrious’ in my texts. I’ll just stick to ‘YOLO’ and ‘swag.’”

Speaking as someone who is a native English speaker and who has (and uses!) a wide vocabulary, the best way to expand your vocabulary is to read, read, read things above your level. Listen to conversations aimed at educated audiences. The absolute best way to expand your vocabulary is to see it in action and use it yourself. That is the only way to catch nuances and shades in meaning.

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