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Ten Habits That Will Expand Your English Vocabulary

Would you like to improve your English vocabulary?

graphic indicating words have power and vocabulary growth

Did you know the English language has more than 171,000 words? The average native English-speaking adult uses between 20,000 and 30,000 words. A native speaker who has been to college will probably know between 50,000 and 70,000 English words. Nobody is smart enough to know all English words.

Anybody can expand their vocabulary of English words if they take the correct steps. Here are 10 habits that will help you learn more English words:

Read Books

Have you ever noticed that children who read a lot tend to learn new words quickly? This rapid learning happens because reading involves learning new words in context. You can read and understand all the text surrounding an unknown word. The text around the new vocabulary provides context clues. These clues often let the reader know what the unknown word is likely to mean. The only downfall of reading is that it doesn’t teach pronunciation.

Use a Dictionary

You can confirm the meaning of a new word with a dictionary. Today, there is no need to get word definitions from bookshelf dictionaries. You can go online and use a search engine instead. When you use a search engine to look up an unknown word, you get the definition within seconds, saving time. Instant online dictionaries mean nobody has an excuse for not finding out the meanings of new words. Make sure you’re using a reputable, credible dictionary site such as Merriam-Webster.

Hear the Word Pronounced

When it comes to finding the meanings of new words, the Internet supplies more than just the definition. When you look up a word, you will see a small speaker icon. If you click on the speaker icon, you will hear the word pronounced correctly.

Knowing how a word sounds before attempting to use it in a conversation can save you a lot of embarrassment. It is not fun when someone scorns you for mispronouncing a word. Being told you have said a word incorrectly is particularly humiliating if you are a native English speaker. By checking how to pronounce a word before using it, you get to deny any English language pedants the savage pleasure of correcting you.

Talk to Other People Often

The more you chat with others, the faster your vocabulary will expand. Occasionally, the people you talk to will use a word you have not heard. Hearing new words in everyday conversations gives clues about their meaning. When someone uses a new word in conversation, it also teaches you how to pronounce it.

Do Not Be Afraid to Ask

Suppose you are having a conversation with someone and that individual uses a new word. You cannot fathom the meaning of the word despite context clues. In that situation, do not be afraid to ask the person you are chatting with what the word means. It will not make you look foolish in the eyes of anyone intelligent. Bright people will know that you are simply trying to learn the meaning of a new word. Learning is always worthwhile and honorable.

Practice Writing

If you want to expand your English vocabulary, try to write something every day. It does not particularly matter what you write as long as you practice writing. People who write a lot often look for similes and other strategies to keep their writing interesting. When you look for synonyms to improve your writing, you expand your vocabulary.

Saying New Words

Saying a new word helps it become part of your regular vocabulary. Try to use words you have recently learned in conversations, or speak them rather than just reading them in your head. Saying new words out loud makes them much easier to remember. Do not forget to check a word’s pronunciation before using it in conversations with others.

Learn a Word a Day

Some people make it their business to learn one new English word every day to boost their vocabulary. However, reading the dictionary definition of a new word each day is not enough. You must use the word when you speak and write if you would like to remember it in the long term.

Leave Your Ego Behind

When you attempt to learn new things, expect put-downs from other people. These derisive remarks occur because some individuals are a little like crabs in a proverbial basket. If you encounter such people as you learn more about the English language, attempt to avoid reacting if they scoff at you. At the same time, never use your expanding vocabulary to make anyone else feel less than you. Learning should never be about your ego.

Learn From Your Mistakes

If you make a pronunciation mistake or use the incorrect word, see it as a learning opportunity and try not to be embarrassed. Mistakes help you learn more about the world. Mistakes also make you human. Never be ashamed of making errors in the pursuit of knowledge.

More Eloquent

You can make an effort to learn new English words at any stage of your life if you want a more expansive vocabulary. Expanding your vocabulary allows you to communicate articulately and confidently with anybody. Learning new words is always a worthwhile activity.


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