1. Frazen
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    Frazen Member

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    How can i improve my vocabulary and word choice?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Frazen, Jul 23, 2015.

    Hi folks,
    I like to extend my vocabulary bank for writing. I know well that by memorizing dictionaries or by vocabulary games, you won't learn how to use the word in you own writing. I use very little of the vocabulary I know... I am wondering if there is a way to activate them. So that I know when and where the word is used and in what kind of prose.
    I've heard one method, that is to read a fine piece of prose and then without looking at it, try to write what you remember on a paper and them compare them to see what especial words the prose has used that you have not.
    Do you know any other method?
    Thank you.
     
  2. Lewdog
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    Lewdog Come ova here and give me kisses! Supporter Contributor

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    All I can tell you is to read read read. If you get to a word you are not sure of, look it up. Read the classics like The Great Gatsby, Animal Farm, and The Catcher in the Rye. Those three give you a well rounded group.
     
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  3. tasjess
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    tasjess Active Member

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    Poetry. Not just highbrow stuff, Ogden Nash and Edward Lear are accessible, hilarious and use words so skillfully. Vocab exercises don't really extend to natural use of words, but reading and seeing them in context makes them a part of you.
     
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  4. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    +1 to reading.

    You may also find some value in word games -- scrabble, words with friends, etc.
     
  5. DeadMoon
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    DeadMoon Contributing Member Contributor

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    The one thing I like about reading on-line is that it is so easy to look an unknown word up. All I have to do is highlight it and left click the mouse, there is an option (at least on my computer) to look the word up on-line or in a dictionary.
     
  6. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Right click the highlighted word and you can search google for it. Use that all the time. :agreed:
     
  7. CJT
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    CJT Member

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    One thing that I would suggest is to go to the Critique section.

    Although I absolutely agree with the reading of as much as you can, you will find that by also critiquing the work of others, you really analyse it, and by doing so, see the structure of the sentencing, feel the rhythm of that structure and the use of words, and have a chance to pick up on all of it. Also, you get to feel what works for you, or not. I'm new to this forum, and still lurking the forums, jumping in here and there, but have spent considerable time in the Crit pages. I'm going to start posting more crits, now that I feel comfortable with what to/not to put, but by lurking over there, I feel that I am learning so much from reading work, and other crits; the discussion around the points brought up, and seeing the revisions, can really help!

    Also, don't read/critique just your favourite genre, branch out and enjoy the plethora of wonderous wordsmiths there are to learn form. :ohno::bigsmile:
    Especially if your aim is to pick up on words and structures.:crazy:
     
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  8. CJT
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    CJT Member

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    I love reading on the Kindle, just move the cursor to the front of the word, and the definition pops up (I have the older Keyboard Kindle)! It made reading Stephen R. Donaldson's Thomas Covenant Chronicles so much easier and enjoyable than the first time, with a dictionary (he seems to use the most ambiguous words he can lay his Thesaurus to, sometimes!)
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2015
  9. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    I have the Sony eReader and it does the same thing only as if it were drunk and hard of hearing - slow and non responsive and misses the word more often than not.

    But agreed, it's a great function.

    Thank you for reminding me of white gold wielder. I read that book some decades ago and loved it. I am going to go seek it out, looks like there's a few more additions to the series now.
     
  10. CJT
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    CJT Member

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    Yeah, I've read the first two series (Chronicles, and Second Chronicles), but have yet to get round to the 3 series (The Last Chronicles), as I have been reading some Peter F. Hamilton, and they are certainly NOT short reads! :confuzled:
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    You can join word of the day sites - but I don't find many of those words stick with me. Words are better remembered through context - I would honestly just read more. Read good stuff - poetry ( like Tasjess said not just the classics - a lot of modern stuff is quite good ), more literary works ( general fiction that wins awards ), and non fiction. Non fiction is great for learning terms and stuff. Like if you're a rockhound and you read all about gems and minerals and stuff - that gives you a bounty of interesting words.
    And when you find a word you like - write it down. Make a sentence with it.
     
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  12. CJT
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    CJT Member

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    +1 on that @peachalulu!

    Using the words is the only way that you are going to remember them!
    Try searching for them in google, add a tag like 'author' 'excerpt' or 'quote' to see some sentences using them, or search a book site like Guttenberg (I think you can search in the texts?!), or a review site, to see the word at play in a sentence.
     
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  13. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    This is a great idea too! I forgot all about books, they'll show you text using the word.
     
  14. Aaron DC
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    Aaron DC Contributing Member

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    Most dictionary sites show the word in usage also.

    Googling, "define: + the word" gives you the definition plus usually a sentence or snippet showing its use.

    eg:

    define:diction

    etc
     
  15. tasjess
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    tasjess Active Member

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    There's also the Shakespearean insult generator http://www.pangloss.com/seidel/Shaker/index.html?

    It will expand your vocabulary and enable you to insult and confuse your foes...
     
  16. tasjess
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    tasjess Active Member

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    Thou roguish pox-marked strumpet!

    Gold I tell you.
     
  17. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    SHIFT F7 (if you use Microsoft word)
     
  18. Aaron Smith
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    Aaron Smith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Chat on philosophy forums.
     
  19. Daemon Wolf
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    Daemon Wolf Active Member

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    Read. Usually that helps me. When I read a word I don't exactly know or don't know what it's trying to convey I look it up.
     
  20. Jack Asher
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    Jack Asher Wildly experimental Contributor

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    I attribute the vastness of my own vocabulary to Baha'i prayers. They are...loquacious to put it mildly. The majority have been translated into English by a member of the faith called Shoghi Effendi, who was oxford educated in five languages. I learned words like "intone" and "contumacious" at a very young age.
     
  21. Frazen
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    Frazen Member

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    You really gave me very practical solutions! Thank you all!
     
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