Ideas for Improving Your Vocabulary

by Andrea Shettle

1. A good dictionary can help you learn new words more easily. A good

dictionary has definitions that are easy for you to understand. One good dictionary is The Newbury House Online Dictionary. 2. Start writing down words that are new to you. Look up their meanings in the dictionary and write down what these words mean. Pay special attention to words you see in your textbooks and in professional journal articles in your field. You can keep your list of new words in a notebook, in the computer, or on a set of index cards. Keep this list in one place. Use this list to look up these words when you see them again.
3. When you read the dictionary, PAY ATTENTION.

○ Don't stop reading after the first few words of the definition— read the whole definition. ○ Some dictionaries will give you examples of how you can use new words. Make sure you read these examples. They can help you understand how you can use the new word. ○ Also, be careful. Many words have more than one meaning. The same word can mean different things in different sentences! The dictionary will list the different definitions of each word. When you look up a word, make sure you find the definition that makes sense in the sentence or paragraph you are reading. 4. When you think you understand what a word means, then write a sentence using that new word. Ask someone who has good English skills to read the sentences you wrote to see if you have used these words correctly. You can ask a friend or a teacher for help. You can also make an appointment with an English tutor at English Works! for help.
5. English Works! has some vocabulary books for students who want to

improve their vocabulary. Some of these books are easy and some of them are hard. These books include exercises to help you remember new words. Ask English Works! staff to help you find a book that is right for you. You may be able to buy some of these books somewhere else for your own use. Or you might be able to copy a few exercises from English Works! books.

6. Are you ready to learn some big words? Look for the magazine

Reader's Digest. (Try the Gallaudet library.) Every issue of Reader's Digest has a vocabulary quiz with 20 words. The quiz answers are included in the magazine. These quizzes usually include very challenging words. These quizzes can be a good way to learn new words. Reader's Digest also offers the Word Power vocabulary game online (requires registration and login). Suffixes (word-endings) come at the end of a word. They show whether the word is a verb, noun, adjective, or adverb. Learning these word-endings can help you recognize a noun, adjective, verb, or adverb. Noun Suffixes Adjective Suffixes Verb Suffixes Adverb Suffixes

Noun Suffixes
These are common endings for nouns. If you see these endings on a word, then you know it must be a noun.
-dom at the end of a word means: - state or condition - domain, position, rank - a group with position, office, or rank wise+dom means the state of understanding what is good, right and lasting king+dom means the domain or area belonging to a king.

wisdom(n) kingdom(n) -ity capability(n) flexibility(n) -ment contentment(n) -sion, -tion celebration (n) -ness toughness (n) -ance, -ence

at the end of a word means condition or quality of __________. capable+ity means the condition of being capable. flexible+ity means the quality of being flexible. at the end of a word means act of __________; state of __________; result of __________. content+ment means the state of being satisfied (content). at the end of a word means act of __________; state of __________. celebrate+tion means the act of celebrating

at the end of a word means state of __________. tough+ness means the state of being tough. at the end of a word means act of __________; state of __________; quality of __________.

assistance (n) -er, -or fighter (n) actor (n) -ist violinist (n)

assist+ance means act of giving help. at the end of a word means one who __________; that which __________. fight+er means one who fights act+or means one who acts. at the end of a word also means one who __________; that which __________. violin+ist means one who plays the violin.
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Adjective Suffixes
These are common word endings for adjectives. If you see these ending at the end of a word, you can be certain it is an adjective.
-ive extensive(adj) selective(adj) -en wooden (adj) at the end of a word means doing or tending toward doing some action extend+ive means doing something large in range or amount select+ive means tending to select.

at the end of a word means made of __________. wood+en means made of wood. Note: When the word is an adjective, the -en means made of __________. We have seen -en at the end of a verb. There it means to make __________. at the end of a word means characteristic of__________; like __________. hero+ic means characteristic of a hero. poet+ic means characteristic of (or like) poets or poetry. sometimes makes an adjective; when it makes an adjective it means relating to __________. finance+al means relating to finance. (Finance means money.) manu+al means relating to the hand. (Manus means hand in Latin.) at the end of a word means able __________; can __________; or giving __________. port+able means can be carried; able to be carried. pleasure+able means giving pleasure. at the end of a word means having __________. hair+y means having hair (a lot of hair).

-ic heroic (adj) poetic (adj) -al financial (adj) manual (adj) -able portable (adj) pleasurable (adj) -y hairy (adj)

rainy (adj) -ous mysterious (adj) -ful hopeful (adj) beautiful (adj) -less powerless (adj) homeless(adj)

rain+y means having rain. at the end of a word means full of __________; having __________. mystery+ous means full of mystery.

at the end of a word means full of __________; having __________. hope+ful means full of hope. beauty+ful means full of beauty. Note: The suffix -ful is always spelled with one l; the word full has two. at the end of a word means without __________. power+less means without power. home+less means without a home.
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Verb Suffixes
These are common endings for verbs. If you see these endings on a word, then the word is most likely a verb.
-en brighten (v) soften (v) -ize publicize (v) -ate activate(v) differentiate(v) -ify or -fy simplify(v) at the end of a word means to make __________. bright+en means to make bright. soft+en means to make soft. at the end of a word means to make __________. public+ize means to make public or to make the public aware of. at then end of a word means to have or be characterized by __________. active+ate means to make active. different+ate means to make or show a difference. at the end of a word means to cause to become or to make. simple+ify means to make simple or simpler.
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Adverb Suffixes
This is the most common ending for an adverb. If you see this ending on a word, you can be fairly certain that it is an adverb. However, keep in mind that not all adverbs end this way.
-ly at the end of a word almost always makes an adverb; occasionally it will make an adjective.

quick+ly. quickly (adv)

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