Vocabulary

Building a vocabulary base should probably be the most important aspect of your skills development, especially when it comes to writing. While being simple in your expression is a good thing, being too simple can lead to uninteresting writing. Good writing exhibits not only solid grammar and structure, but also lexical range, or vocab variety.
Here are some strategies to employ when building up your vocab base.

Word Groups

Start building word groups according to a theme (to help you remember them more easily.) For example, one such theme might be “beginnings”.

Go through a thesaurus, or simply keep a journal nearby while doing your reading practice, and write down words related to time. Examples might be
launch, outset, nascent, found, root, genesis, kick off, dawn, and others. Make groupings of 30-40 words if you can. Then, make sure you know the definitions of each word, its other parts of speech (noun, verb, adjective, and adverb forms), synonyms and antonyms, contextual uses, and pronunciation. Use these words in sentences to make sure you can use them.

Write to Top is working on theme-based e-booklets with these groupings done for you, with quizzes included. We will update you as soon as they are available for purchase.

Lists

The Library has some lists for you to use as study aids, such as irregular verbs and plurals, often-confused words, acronyms and abbreviations, commonly misspelled words, and others.

These are words that usually give non-native English users difficulty, and should be studied well in order to improve both reading and writing ability. These lists will be downloadable very soon.

See the lists here.


Videos

As part of our video library collection we feature videos dealing directly with vocabulary items, such as commonly confused words, uncommon uses of common words, idioms, and more.

See the video library here.

Note: This site is full of high-end vocabulary, and we encourage you to refer to a dictionary whenever you come across a new word. Also, keep a notebook handy at all times to write down new words, and don’t forget to look for these words’ other forms and less common uses.

How to Build a Vocabulary Base:

1) A good way to set up your notebook is as follows:

NOUN VERB ADJECTIVE ADVERB
beauty
beautician
beautification
beautify beautiful beautifully
To attract more tourists, City Council has decided to increase spending on projects to beautify the downtown core.

Don’t just learn one form of a word. Make sure you are aware of and know how to use its other forms and derivatives.

2) You can also keep flashcards of new words and study them whenever you have a chance, such as when on the bus, waiting in line at the bank, or having a coffee.

3) Ultimately, the best way to build vocabulary is to read often. Try to read at least one chapter of a book or a newspaper or magazine article in English every day. Ideally, read novels, non-fiction books, and better magazines and newspapers, such as the economist.com, time.com, nytimes.com, newyorker.com, theglobeandmail.com, theguardian.com, and others. Most importantly: read things that you enjoy reading. If you don’t enjoy reading, you must nevertheless force yourself to read every day and look for topics that interest you.

Tip: Don’t look up every new word. Try to guess its meaning from the context. If you can understand the sentence or paragraph without looking up the word, move on. If you see this word again and feel it is necessary to the text, then look it up in a dictionary for clarification.