Cast your eye over the following statement:
“Travelling and seeing new places is one of my favourite things to do. I also love seeing films at the cinema and whenever I see one, I always buy popcorn.”
Whilst this makes perfect sense, the repetition of ‘see’ leaves it feeling a little… flat. Synonyms are a great way to quickly inject some life back into the words:
“Travelling and exploring new places is one of my favourite things to do. I also love watching films at the cinema and whenever I see one, I always buy popcorn.”
If word repetition is something you struggle with when writing, check out my four tips for broadening your vocabulary…
Reading has long been recognised as a way to improve your vocabulary. It makes sense when you think about it – understanding a story is a pretty strong motivation for learning a new word. One of the best ways to broaden your vocab’ is to read from a selection of different genres and authors. That way, you’ll benefit from each person’s internal thesaurus, as you go.
Use a thesaurus or ‘synonym finder’
Today, most word processing software comes with a variation on the ‘synonym finder’. Just right-click on a word and you’ll be presented with a list of handy alternatives. It’s essentially a digital thesaurus. For example, I checked the synonyms for ‘essentially’ and got: ‘fundamentally’, ‘basically’ and ‘largely’ (amongst others). Just be careful to ensure that the word you choose makes sense in the context of your sentence. ‘Basically’ probably would have worked in the sentence above, whereas ‘largely’ wouldn’t have been quite right.
(Note: stay tuned for my video on ‘why the synonym finder is NOT cheating’…)
Learn a word a day
A popular method for broadening your vocab’, is to go through the dictionary and pick a new word to learn each day. You could choose at random, or work your way through the alphabet. In order to commit the word to memory, try using it within a sentence that day. This can either be in conversation, in an email or even a tweet- whatever works for you. If you’re nervous about using a word incorrectly, start by Googling it and note what contexts it’s being applied to.
It may sound obvious but when it comes to language, practice is so important. Writing is good for strengthening your vocab’, because it gives you time to consider each sentence. Writing a blog or a journal is great but it doesn’t need to be as big a commitment as that. Just putting a little extra thought into any emails you send would be enough. You’ll probably find that after doing this for a while, it will begin to feel natural and you may even start working your new vocab’ in conversations too.
FYI – I did a right-click on ‘synonym’ and found there are indeed synonyms for the word… going… cross-eyed…