How do I extend my vocabulary?

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Anonymous #1
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My teachers often saying that they’re impressed by my writing style, but I feel as though the phrases that I use are repetitive and common. A lot of the time, I’ll come across a word I’ve never heard of before and completely panic because surely at 17 I should at least be able to hazard a guess. Also, we have coursework to complete this holiday and the books are obviously written by academic historians, almost a century ago btw, and the parts I’ve read thus far fry my brain as they speak so intricately. Well, there we go, please don’t just as I was raised in a working-class area and my parents have worked long hours all our lives (siblings) - I’m not blaming them at all or using that as an excuse, but I lack the knowledge as to how to extend my wording. The clearest answer would be to read books, perhaps even a dictionary haha, but is there any other way?
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Anonymous)
My teachers often saying that they’re impressed by my writing style, but I feel as though the phrases that I use are repetitive and common. A lot of the time, I’ll come across a word I’ve never heard of before and completely panic because surely at 17 I should at least be able to hazard a guess. Also, we have coursework to complete this holiday and the books are obviously written by academic historians, almost a century ago btw, and the parts I’ve read thus far fry my brain as they speak so intricately. Well, there we go, please don’t just as I was raised in a working-class area and my parents have worked long hours all our lives (siblings) - I’m not blaming them at all or using that as an excuse, but I lack the knowledge as to how to extend my wording. The clearest answer would be to read books, perhaps even a dictionary haha, but is there any other way?
Reading books is honestly the best way (not a dictionary just normal books). It is normal to come across words you haven't heard before, it's nothing to panic about. I'm always interested in finding out the meaning of new words.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by harrysbar)
Reading books is honestly the best way (not a dictionary just normal books). It is normal to come across words you haven't heard before, it's nothing to panic about. I'm always interested in finding out the meaning of new words.
Thank you so much! True true, it’s just for exams really when words like ‘ubiquitous’ appear because when I read that last week I had nooo idea.
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StriderHort
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As harrysbar said, just more reading really, the more authors the better. Generally the context an unfamiliar word is used in will tell you a lot about it before you look it up.
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harrysbar
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Thank you so much! True true, it’s just for exams really when words like ‘ubiquitous’ appear because when I read that last week I had nooo idea.
I do agree that it's wrong when exam papers use words that lots of students will struggle to comprehend. They stand no chance of being able to get good marks when they can't even understand the question so it's like a middle class bias
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DiddyDec
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As already said reading or in my case audiobooks is a great source of new vocabulary. I am forever looking up the definition of words mostly to ensure I am using the correct one for the context in which it is used.

A thesaurus can also be very handy if you find yourself using the same words a little too frequently.

Another option is signing up to something that gives you a word of the day then trying to work that word into something you are writing. Doing this enough will work them into your quotidian lexicon.
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
As already said reading or in my case audiobooks is a great source of new vocabulary. I am forever looking up the definition of words mostly to ensure I am using the correct one for the context in which it is used.

A thesaurus can also be very handy if you find yourself using the same words a little too frequently.

Another option is signing up to something that gives you a word of the day then trying to work that word into something you are writing. Doing this enough will work them into your quotidian lexicon.
Thank you!! Do you know any apps or websites that teach a word a day?
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Thank you!! Do you know any apps or websites that teach a word a day?
Merriam Webster has a word of the day.
https://www.merriam-webster.com/word...e-day/calendar

I'm sure there will also be apps for if you search word of the day.
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Surnia
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At 13 we did a vocabulary test at school, where we had to give the definitions of words; I scored as being 8 years ahead of the expected level for my age because I read anything in my parents home; not just novels, but encyclopedias, Sunday papers and magazines (they subscribed to Readers Digest and National Geographic). We weren't well off, but my parents valued education.

Part of it is seeing a word in context; I find it sticks when you see it used correctly and read other text around it that builds on it. Start buying the occasional Sunday paper and current affairs magazines.
Last edited by Surnia; 4 weeks ago
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OxMus
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(Original post by Anonymous)
My teachers often saying that they’re impressed by my writing style, but I feel as though the phrases that I use are repetitive and common. A lot of the time, I’ll come across a word I’ve never heard of before and completely panic because surely at 17 I should at least be able to hazard a guess. Also, we have coursework to complete this holiday and the books are obviously written by academic historians, almost a century ago btw, and the parts I’ve read thus far fry my brain as they speak so intricately. Well, there we go, please don’t just as I was raised in a working-class area and my parents have worked long hours all our lives (siblings) - I’m not blaming them at all or using that as an excuse, but I lack the knowledge as to how to extend my wording. The clearest answer would be to read books, perhaps even a dictionary haha, but is there any other way?
Hello OP,

Firstly, I want to reassure you that encountering words you don't know at the age of 17 is perfectly normal; it still happens for me, and I'm a 20-year-old university student! Additionally, as a first-generation student who grew up in a low-income family, I can also relate to your family position.

The best thing you can do is to read widely because then you will encounter words in context and practice, and so it's likely to be more effective than relying on websites/apps (like Dictionary.com etc.).

Remember that entering "define [word]" into Google always gives an OED definition.

I hope this helps!

OxMus.
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Otherdjrj
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(Original post by Anonymous)
Thank you so much! True true, it’s just for exams really when words like ‘ubiquitous’ appear because when I read that last week I had nooo idea.
(Quickly looks up what ubiquitous means)
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Anonymous #1
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(Original post by OxMus)
Hello OP,

Firstly, I want to reassure you that encountering words you don't know at the age of 17 is perfectly normal; it still happens for me, and I'm a 20-year-old university student! Additionally, as a first-generation student who grew up in a low-income family, I can also relate to your family position.

The best thing you can do is to read widely because then you will encounter words in context and practice, and so it's likely to be more effective than relying on websites/apps (like Dictionary.com etc.).

Remember that entering "define [word]" into Google always gives an OED definition.

I hope this helps!

OxMus.
Thanks so much!
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DiddyDec
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Reality Check you have an eclectic lexicon, what would your sagacious advice be?
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Reality Check
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
As already said reading or in my case audiobooks is a great source of new vocabulary. I am forever looking up the definition of words mostly to ensure I am using the correct one for the context in which it is used.

A thesaurus can also be very handy if you find yourself using the same words a little too frequently.

Another option is signing up to something that gives you a word of the day then trying to work that word into something you are writing. Doing this enough will work them into your quotidian lexicon.
"Quotidian lexicon" :rolleyes: And don't even start me off on 'sagacious'.

Read more.

(and thanks for the compliment - from you, it means so much more)
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DiddyDec
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(Original post by Reality Check)
"Quotidian lexicon" :rolleyes: And don't even start me off on 'sagacious'.

Read more.

(and thanks for the compliment - from you, it means so much more)
I thought they be excellent starting points for new words seldom used in common discourse.
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Anonymous)
My teachers often saying that they’re impressed by my writing style, but I feel as though the phrases that I use are repetitive and common. A lot of the time, I’ll come across a word I’ve never heard of before and completely panic because surely at 17 I should at least be able to hazard a guess. Also, we have coursework to complete this holiday and the books are obviously written by academic historians, almost a century ago btw, and the parts I’ve read thus far fry my brain as they speak so intricately. Well, there we go, please don’t just as I was raised in a working-class area and my parents have worked long hours all our lives (siblings) - I’m not blaming them at all or using that as an excuse, but I lack the knowledge as to how to extend my wording. The clearest answer would be to read books, perhaps even a dictionary haha, but is there any other way?
Usually you can sort of guess at a word from its context - but not always. We all come across unfamiliar words and phrases from time to time, so don't feel you're weird or something for continuing to do so.

I'd be interested to know exactly which phrases you're using have been identified as 'repetitive and common'. This isn't a diagnostic marker for poor writing: lots of phrasing is necessarily repetitive, and there's nothing worse than using 'alternative phrases', particularly when they are circumlocatory, opaque or unnecessarily wordy. For instance, it's never necessary to 'purchase' as vb.tr. - you can just 'buy' it, like the rest of us.

Remember - good writing is just a conversation between two people, in text form. If you use the same phrase a few times, then so be it. If you need a synonym to express in a more nuanced way what you're trying to say, then use a thesaurus. Although reading is important to expand your vocab. you need to move those words from 'passive' to 'active' vocabulary, and this means actually trying them on for size.
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Rorty
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Have a document where you write down new words you encounter and what they mean. Read through it whenever you can be bothered and soon enough those words will be part of your reading vocabulary. It is rather harder to expand your talking/writing vocabulary because people have a tendency to use new words they learn in slightly incorrect ways. That being said, the more you read high quality texts the easier it will be for you to deploy your new vocabulary accurately. Eventually your Stakhanovite efforts might prove fructiferous, your impavid quest for protean capabilities might see you arrogate a spot at the apogee of the lexical mountain. But alas, vertiginous is the drop if your efforts become anaemic. Be sure to abjure your troglodyte past; emerge from the dark black (pardon the pleonasm) shadow of you past not as the laconic bastion of heterodoxy that you were, but as the person you always wanted to be :moon:
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StriderHort
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(Original post by DiddyDec)
I thought they be excellent starting points for new words seldom used in common discourse.
"I'm being sacked for all those things I totally did, it has sweet FA to do with my health or family"
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Reality Check
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(Original post by Rorty)
Have a document where you write down new words you encounter and what they mean. Read through it whenever you can be bothered and soon enough those words will be part of your reading vocabulary. It is rather harder to expand your talking/writing vocabulary because people have a tendency to use new words they learn in slightly incorrect ways. That being said, the more you read high quality texts the easier it will be for you to deploy your new vocabulary accurately. Eventually your Stakhanovite efforts might prove fructiferous, your impavid quest for protean capabilities might see you arrogate a spot at the apogee of the lexical mountain. But alas, vertiginous is the drop if your efforts become anaemic. Be sure to abjure your troglodyte past; emerge from the dark black (pardon the pleonasm) shadow of you past not as the laconic bastion of heterodoxy that you were, but as the person you always wanted to be :moon:
'Troglodyte' was my favourite, by a country mile.
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gjd800
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Buy the Hobson-Jobson
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