Writing is all about words. But a word is only a word until it’s used in context. In other words, words matter. A lot. So here are 7 steps to make sure your vocabulary is perfect.
STEP 1: Read, Read, Read
If you’re not reading, you’re not learning. And if you’re not learning, you’re not growing. Reading is the best way to increase your vocabulary, as well as improve your writing and grammar. It’s also the easiest way to learn new words and phrases.
Reading is so simple, yet so many people have trouble doing it. I recommend starting with a good dictionary and a thesaurus. If you’re a writer, you’ll want to have a few short story books on hand. You can also buy a book on writing for beginners for a reasonable price.
STEP 2: Learn by Example
Another way to learn is to listen to people who are good at it. This is why listening to podcasts is so important. There are thousands of them out there, so take some time to find some great ones.
If you’re a writer, you might try a writing podcast, like the Copyblogger Podcast or the Copyblogger Podcast. These are the two most popular ones, but they don’t have all of the great content that other podcasts offer.
STEP 3: Learn from Great Writers
If you want to learn the best words and phrases, try reading books by the best writers in your field. The best example is Hemingway’s A Farewell to Arms. It’s one of my favorites, and I still use many of his words and phrases in this very blog post.
STEP 4: Read Out Loud
Another way to get better at using language is to read it out loud. This is one of the best ways to figure out if a word sounds natural to you or not. If it doesn’t sound natural, you’ll know it’s probably a bad choice.
STEP 5: Learn the Parts of Speech
Words can have many different meanings depending on how they’re used. That’s why knowing the parts of speech can help you improve your vocabulary. You should be able to tell whether a word is a noun, verb, adjective, adverb, pronoun, etc.
There are several ways to learn about the parts of speech. One way is by reading grammar books. Another way is to practice with the various parts of speech in the context of writing. For example, you could write a short story about the parts of speech in the sentence “I was thinking…”
STEP 6: Use an Online Dictionary
Finally, if you want to make sure that you’ve got the right words and phrases, you can use an online dictionary. They’ll show you all of the different parts of speech and how they’re used.
STEP 7: Take a Course
There’s no way around it: if you want to get better at anything, you need to take a class. You could also take a class on your own if you prefer.
In my opinion, it’s better to take a class than to learn by yourself. Classes will give you more practice and exposure to the vocabulary you need. If you take a writing class, you’ll be learning more than just grammar and vocabulary.
You’ll be learning about story structure, writing techniques, editing, and other topics. If you have a specific topic in mind, look for a writing class that’s focused on that topic.