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What are Some Good Ways to Improve my Vocabulary?

Mary McMahon
Updated May 23, 2024
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Improving your vocabulary can be done at any age and any level of education. Even college students can benefit from an enlarged vocabulary, which will enhance spoken and written communication as well as providing a deeper grasp of any language. Often people are spurred to improve their vocabularies by a major test, but improving your vocabulary can be done for fun as well. Reading more, playing word games and puzzles, and looking up words in the dictionary are all good ways to learn new words.

One of the best ways to improve your vocabulary is to read more. Reading is directly linked with a larger vocabulary, especially if you seek out books in unfamiliar genres or about unfamiliar topics. Nonfiction in a wide variety of fields can teach you new words and general knowledge, but reading fiction is also highly beneficial. As you read, make a note of unfamiliar words, look them up, and write down the definition.

Play word games is a fun way to learn new words. Games like Scrabble® and Boggle® will encourage your brain to play with words and letters, as well as learning new ones. If you play with an open dictionary, you can encourage people to try out words they might otherwise be afraid of using. Most word games are interactive, so you enjoy company while you expand your vocabulary.

Another way of improving your vocabulary is to do word puzzles. Most newspapers include crosswords, simple cryptology puzzles, and jumbles that get progressively harder throughout the week. Try to commit to completing all of the word puzzles every day, or at least attempt to finish them. Word puzzles can also be done in groups, especially if you enjoy competition. You can purchase books of word puzzles of varying difficulty for a different challenge.

A simple way to improve your vocabulary is to use the dictionary. Create flash cards of unfamiliar words and practice them in the train, on the bus, or when you wake up in the morning. Try to practice words in a variety of environments so that you really learn them, and make sure to use the words in daily sentences as well so that you can grow accustomed to using them correctly. If you hear someone using a word you don’t recognize, ask him or her about it or look it up.

Many websites are dedicated to improving your vocabulary, and you can subscribe to word of the day features, word games, and other fun activities. In addition, you may find a community of individuals with interests like yours. If you are trying to improve your English vocabulary as a native speaker, you may be able to meet up with study buddies. If you are learning vocabulary in a new language, you can find people to speak and write with you so that you can improve your skills.

Language & Humanities is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Mary McMahon
By Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a Language & Humanities researcher and writer. Mary has a liberal arts degree from Goddard College and spends her free time reading, cooking, and exploring the great outdoors.

Discussion Comments

By anon340121 — On Jun 30, 2013

There are some websites where you can mark your difficult words and refer to them later.

By anon255494 — On Mar 17, 2012

I'm a teen writer, and i just can't seem to find the right word for anything anymore! It really drives me crazy sometimes. So this website has some good ideas.

By anon191579 — On Jun 29, 2011

I can write english and can speak it too, but in simple ways. If someone speaks some good english words that give me problems. The person stood right in front of me and understands that i know english well. I know well that I am not perfect in english. A perfect word is far away.

By anon183499 — On Jun 05, 2011

I think your website is great way of helping people improve their vocabulary. i think this site was a really useful site and thank you very much.

By anon161980 — On Mar 22, 2011

i want to speak english fluently, but i can't speak very well as i don't understand. i feel very bad when someone talks in english and i can't reply.

By anon161085 — On Mar 18, 2011

I don't remember words. While reading, i mark new words and I even search their meaning also, but i don't remember it for long, and if i don't remember, then how can i use it?

By anon154367 — On Feb 20, 2011

I'm an engineering student. i can't speak in english fluently. i want to improve it. Please suggest to me what should i do?

By anon153728 — On Feb 18, 2011

I'm subash from faridabad. i go to english classes to improve my fluency. i can understand english, but i can't speak it. so tell me what should i do?

By anon148051 — On Jan 31, 2011

i am junaid. i want to improve my english. my english is very weak.

By English101 — On Jan 13, 2011

You can increase your English vocabulary by reading, speaking and writing in a culturally relevant manner.

For example, find a book written in America, or the U.K. and read the book, but don't use a dictionary and try to understand the meaning of the words that you read.

If you use context to discover your words then this will give you a better understanding of the words and this will improve your English vocabulary. Watching movies, and listening to conversations on the same sort of topic will also build on your knowledge as well. You can also find audio books which you can listen to instead of just read. Harry Potter has both. By doing this you will reinforce your learning.

Find something that interests you and you are on your way to success!

By anon137210 — On Dec 27, 2010

I am a student studying B.Sc first year. i have some difficulty in english speaking, and writing as well. when i watch english movies i find it difficult to understand the conversation, however i understand with my english teacher while communicating. in this situation i want to guided in the right way so that i can build up a strong confidence in both writing and speaking. thanks!

By anon132972 — On Dec 09, 2010

I can understand english but i can't speak like other people. i'm getting stuck and all the words run out of my mind, only to find myself blank.

By anon132728 — On Dec 08, 2010

i am darren from singapore. i completed an engineering course but i don't know ow to speak in english fluently. what can i do? please tell me.

By vinodsign11 — On Nov 12, 2010

I am vino working in a software company. i have to improve my communication skills. i can't speak fluently. Please help me and give me some tips.

By anon121877 — On Oct 25, 2010

I'm Rija, a student in upper six from SMK Bingkor, Keningau, Sabah, Malaysia. I have difficulties in speaking well in english. how can i solve this problem? please help me. thanks.

By anon121508 — On Oct 24, 2010

i can understand english, but my english is not good. my communication skills are very weak. how can I improve my skill? tousee

By anon121116 — On Oct 23, 2010

I am student of MCA second year. my english is not good compared to all my friends. I never participate in any college functions. only one problem is my english is not so good and my word power is also not good. please tell me how I can improve my english in easy way.

By anon114528 — On Sep 29, 2010

i am ankit from noida. now i am in btech third year. my english is very weak. what can i do? help me. i have a lack of confidence.

By anon112094 — On Sep 19, 2010

Hello sir i am a student of engineering and i have a lot of problems regarding english. i want to improve my english. how i can solve this problem? please help me. --amit.

By anon111640 — On Sep 17, 2010

i am kapil from delhi and I want to improve my vocabulary so please tell me what can i do.

By anon110328 — On Sep 11, 2010

I had completed my PG and am now preparing for interview but my communication is not good. I'm just using global words please suggest to me how can i improve my vocabulary.

By anon105424 — On Aug 20, 2010

I always hated reading and i really wanted to find new ways that could help me improve my vocabulary. but now i definitely should get help to expand my regions and be able to sit down and enjoy a good book from now on.

By anon102641 — On Aug 09, 2010

I am also sailing in the same boat but i am telling good news to all. Every day listen to an english movie and spend a minimum of one hour doing it. after one month your listening skills will change rapidly and you will learn at least five words per day.

By anon98751 — On Jul 24, 2010

I want to improve my english so what can I do?

My name is Yasmeen and I am from pakistan. my speaking skills are not very good. i can understand the words but i have no words to say to others. i have a little bit of hesitation in my speaking english and i have no vocabulary, so tell me what can i do with my english.

By anon98486 — On Jul 23, 2010

I want to improve my english skills so what can I do?

By anon96808 — On Jul 17, 2010

My name is wahaibi and I am from pakistan. my speaking skills are not very good. i can understand the words but i have no words to say to others. i have a little bit of hesitation in my speaking engling and i have no vocabulary, so tell me what can i do with my english.

I am waiting for good friend or teacher who can help me in my english. I really want to learn or speak english. Please, please, please, please help me ASAP. Regards.

By anon94430 — On Jul 08, 2010

I am Humam. I have the same story as well. I am not good in english. i am going to start my graduation and I think it's the starting of my career and I know english is the first step of everything, so i want to improve my overall english skills. So please suggest to me the best way to do so. thanks

By anon93842 — On Jul 06, 2010

English is a great language. I always study dictionaries and read shakespeare's works. I also listen to audio tapes and hence i have been able to achieve a huge success in improving my vocabulary.

By anon93264 — On Jul 02, 2010

You can also improve your vocabulary through cartoons and images.

By anon93014 — On Jul 01, 2010

right now i am in the usa and i want to do my masters here and i am from india so i have degree from India, but unfortunately to get the admission i need to pass the exam Toefl and GRE, and to improve my english skills in speaking and discussion. Please help me? i want to improve my english skills and vocabulary.

By Eva Susilowati — On Jun 25, 2010

English idioms i think are also difficult. How can I learn them?

By Eva Susilowati — On Jun 25, 2010

i can speak and write english but sometimes when i am reading some articles i still find difficult words. Also when i was watching western movie while they were speaking I did not understand. what does it mean? even though i have a friend from Australia and i can speak well with her but why when i am watching tv can I not follow it well. so help me. what should i do?

By anon91843 — On Jun 24, 2010

My english is so poor most of the time i will not participate in discussions. I always feel shy about express myself, knowing that my colleagues will make fun of me. So i am like a sponge. i just take everything that comes my way and normally respond in broken english or my mother tongue. please, i desperately need your assistance.

By anon90216 — On Jun 15, 2010

I am from northern part of Pakistan and i am working in an NGO but unfortunately my english is not good as well as my communication skills. Please give me some suggestion on how can i improve my communication skills. thanks

By anon89415 — On Jun 10, 2010

I am a graduate student, but my english is so poor, my word power is so bad. how can i improve my english.

By anon88702 — On Jun 06, 2010

Good article. Everyone knows that reading is something which may dramatically help you to obtain new words.

However we all know that it can be difficult to remember new words. Personally I can even write down a word to my notebook and pretend that I know it. Then I encounter the word one more time and write it down again as a new word.

I found a software which allows to maintain my vocabulary online. When I read a text it finds words of my vocabulary in my text. Nice stuff.

By anon87443 — On May 30, 2010

i am manpreet. i feel very bad when i can't talk with my M.D in English. she often talks to me in English. but i reply in Hindi just because i can't talk.

By anon85815 — On May 22, 2010

I am amar. my problem is I can understand english, but i have a lack of confidence to speak to other people, so pleas give me good advise to improve my anxiety and confidence level. and another thing is that my vocabulary is very poor. that is the main thing. thanks.

By anon83297 — On May 10, 2010

I am a girl, i can speak and as well write english well, but have this problem with mother tongue interference. please can you help me overcome this? and i will be grateful

By anon82270 — On May 05, 2010

i can understand english but i am not able to speak freely with others. Please help me on how to improve my english.

By anon78777 — On Apr 20, 2010

I am good at writing english. I can't speak fluently. I can speak only few minutes.

By anon78633 — On Apr 19, 2010

i am a shakespearean and student of Sir Daewood Umer Daraz. i think he is the best teacher of english in Karachi. He has already thought of so many tips to improve english but i want new suggestions.

I am best in writing, reading and speaking but i have a problem: i always make mistakes in spelling. What do I to overcome this problem?

By anon78186 — On Apr 17, 2010

I am sree. i understand english but i am not able to speak freely with others. Some kind of fear is there. Please help me on how to improve my english.

By anon75247 — On Apr 06, 2010

Thank you for giving some suggestions. i will implement them. my english is so poor due to lack of vocabulary. i am preparing for a bank examination specially closet, error, phrase etc. but am not improving.

By anon74968 — On Apr 05, 2010

i am turkish who is studying in pakistan at numl in elt last semester. unfortunately, i am not satisfied with may english and english vocabulary. i just came here for learning english but i couldn't manage to learn it. please help me. thanks.

By anon74648 — On Apr 03, 2010

I am a student. I can understand english language, but i can speak little english. i am confused in sentences spoken rapidly so please give me advice to improve in my english speaking.

By anon72933 — On Mar 24, 2010

I am a graduate student, but my english is so poor, i can't understand the meaning of sentences and my word power is so poor. so please help me.

By anon71753 — On Mar 19, 2010

Really it is a great article. I'm 31 now and i got stuck up with vocabulary. Definitely this article will help me out to overcome my issues.

By anon70165 — On Mar 12, 2010

i understand english but i don't select the suitable words for the paragraph.

By anon69119 — On Mar 06, 2010

nice article.

By anon67708 — On Feb 26, 2010

i can understand english, but my english is not good. my communication skills are very weak. how can I improve my skill? tousee

By anon66503 — On Feb 20, 2010

I am from pakistan and i want to improve my vocabulary. i just want to improve my word selection which I will use in my daily life.

kindly help me out.

By anon58120 — On Dec 30, 2009

I think the best way is to memorize the text. if you memorize the text then you can ımprove your vocabulary and grammar and also reading skills.

By JerseyJoe — On Aug 22, 2008

Something fishy about Latin. Latin shows up in fish anatomy: dorsal and ventral fins, but which one is on top, on bottom? With the help of Latin, we find out that the top fin is the dorsal as dorsum is back in Latin. And, the bottom fin is the ventral as ventra is belly in Latin. This word thing gets interesting when the fellow on stage with the dummy throws his voice – you know the ventriloquist.

By JerseyJoe — On Aug 19, 2008

I graduated high school in 1946, but like many others, I treated my high school days as a good place to play sports. So, in 1968 I found myself a 40-year-old college freshman in the University of Maryland overseas program (military). I had to struggle with word comprehension, but I took it a word at a time – and the longer I studied, the easier it got. Fortunately, I purchased a college dictionary, with an Appendix of Indo-European roots. I cannot give the name but it is the only dictionary with a comprehensive listing of the approx. 600 Indo-European roots that have derivatives in English, with links to the corresponding entries in the online edition. My criteria, even if I had an idea of the definition, was to enter the word in a notebook glossary along with the etymology (true meaning). Like the wordsmiths say, “Words come in families” and I was happy with my newfound family.

Postscript: 1972 graduate, University of Nebraska at Omaha (Recreation Leadership), and 1976 graduate University of Southern California (MsEd)

By anon173 — On Apr 17, 2007

Hi, Thanks for a great article - there are some great tips here! I have also found that a great way to my vocabulary is by using software. I am currently using [url removed by editor] which is working really well for me...

Mary McMahon

Mary McMahon

Ever since she began contributing to the site several years ago, Mary has embraced the exciting challenge of being a...

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