1. WritingNoob
    Offline

    WritingNoob Member

    Joined:
    Feb 3, 2010
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0

    How to use to learn new words?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by WritingNoob, Jun 20, 2011.

    hey guys, i'm trying to improve my vocabulary. i've been using 'dictionary.com' a lot recently, but it only gives a definition with one example of the words use. i'm looking for something that will provide a few examples of how it's used. this is an example of what i mean: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/uncouth

    see how it only gives one example of it being used? i want a website that'll demonstrate it's use a few times.

    thanks
     
  2. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
  3. EdFromNY
    Offline

    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 13, 2010
    Messages:
    4,684
    Likes Received:
    2,534
    Location:
    Queens, NY
    Reading a dictionary probably isn't the best way to improve your vocabulary. Reading quality literature is probably a better way to go.
     
  4. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Read, dude. You should have been reading lots ever since you were a child. I don't know of any better way to build a vocabulary. I don't believe you can get all the nuances of words from a dictionary or a thesaurus. You have to see how people actually USE words, and the only way to do that is to read. What you want to achieve is sufficient virtuosity with the language that the right word pops into your head as you're writing, because it's a deep-down part of your being. The words should come from your core, not from some dictionary open on your desk.
     
  5. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    *slaps self* yes, read. Minstrel and Ed are both absolutely correct. I thought you were looking up words in books you didn't understand. Apparently I'm so tired I'm making up peoples posts in my head.....
     
  6. Gigi_GNR
    Offline

    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2009
    Messages:
    12,143
    Likes Received:
    250
    Location:
    Milwaukee, WI
    Reading, like it's been said. :) You won't believe how many new words you'll pick up when you read.
     
  7. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    in addition to reading, the best way to increase your vocabulary is to do the ny times daily crossword, till you can finish one in pen, in under 20 minutes... when you get to that point, get a book's worth of the sunday ones and do those daily... doing acrostics is also a good vocabulary builder...
     
  8. Ellipse
    Offline

    Ellipse Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 8, 2010
    Messages:
    714
    Likes Received:
    32
    Did you notice dictionary.com also has a thesaurus tab on it?
     
  9. cruciFICTION
    Offline

    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 18, 2011
    Messages:
    1,236
    Likes Received:
    49
    Location:
    Brisbane, Australia
    ... which should be avoided at all costs, for it is aligned with the devil.
     
  10. JeffD
    Offline

    JeffD Member

    Joined:
    Mar 22, 2011
    Messages:
    29
    Likes Received:
    1
    Hanging out with people that have large vocabularies as well. Or watching seminars by intellectuals, get some audio to match your reading visual.
     
  11. marina
    Offline

    marina Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2008
    Messages:
    1,280
    Likes Received:
    55
    Location:
    Seattle
    If you want to see how it's used a few times, just do a google search. Type in the name of a newspaper, magazine, or journal first, then the word you want to see. For instance, I just typed in: new york times uncouth

    It gave a bunch of links to articles with the worth uncouth used in it.
     
  12. Eunoia
    Offline

    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 8, 2010
    Messages:
    4,395
    Likes Received:
    80
    Location:
    England
    Like others have suggested, reading is the best way. You can also do word puzzles like crosswords, and I watch Countdown (TV programme where two contestants try and make words from the letters randomly selected, and there's a conundrum at each advert break and at the end) too. There's a section in it where the dictionary person highlights a word as well. Playing games like Scrabble would help.
     
  13. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,728
    Likes Received:
    4,826
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    With all due respect to mammamaia and others, I don't think doing crosswords and playing scrabble helps all that much. Those activities teach you that certain words exist, but they do not teach you how those words are used; they don't teach nuances of meaning. The problem isn't knowing the words, it's knowing how to use the words creatively. I think that comes mainly from reading good writers. It can also come from listening to good speakers who use the words well, but that's pretty much an auditory version of the same thing. You need to know not just the spelling and definition of the word, but the flavor and scent of the word - the character of the word. Words like "big", "huge", "enormous", "large", "humungous", "massive" and "gigantic" may mean similar things, but they have different characters and good writers would not use them interchangeably. Nuance is the soul of writing, and simply studying a dictionary won't help you understand nuance.
     
  14. animefans12
    Offline

    animefans12 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 6, 2011
    Messages:
    79
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Florida
    In my opinion, I would read more books that has some good vocabularies in them and use them often as you speak in the world. Compared to words that I just learnt and spoke a million times in life than the same situation, excluding not using them in real life... Well, the words that I've spoken a lot sticks to my mind better than the ones that I don't usually use.
     
  15. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    i certainly wouldn't recommend playing scrabble for vocab-building...

    but doing crosswords is a tried and true method that does 'teach how those words are used' to some extent and leads the 'student' to look up unfamiliar ones, thus learning how to use them creatively...
     
  16. SeverinR
    Offline

    SeverinR Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 15, 2011
    Messages:
    477
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    New Madison Ohio
    I have posted word of the day for nearly a month now(except on weekends)

    It has shown me that I can learn some words this way, but some words I don't feel comfortable using.

    I think its because some words just feel right to me, and others are just strange words that probably won't feel right ever using.

    I agree, reading is a great way to expose yourself to new words. I think crosswords, scrabble, word of the day, thesaurus can expose you to new words, but don't try to fake it. If you feel comfortable with the word then use it. But if not study it a little more or change the word to something you feel more comfortable with.

    You want a good vocabulary, not just to be able to use big/exotic words in your writing.
     

Share This Page