How to Increase Your Vocabulary “Easily”

English, like all languages, has a lot of different ways to say the same thing.  Learning all of these would be impossible, but the more the student learns, the better will be his or her comprehension level. Native speakers often try to say things differently instead of repeating the same words over and over again. For example, the student knows the word “little.” He or she can say that something is little, but when the student is talking to native speakers they may use small or tiny or teeny or teeny-weeny or iddy-bitty.  This is a big problem, and the only way to solve it is to increase your passive recognition vocabulary.  The student doesn’t have to remember teeny-weeny or iddy-bitty, but he or she will have to know what they mean if he or she hears them.

One way to learn vocabulary is to learn opposites.  This is especially helpful with adjectives.  For example:

Tall – Short – Alto – Bajo

Long – Short – Largo – Corto

High – Low – Alto – Bajo

Little – Big – Pequeño – Grande

Small – Large – Pequeño – Grande

Wide – Narrow – Ancho – Estrecho

Smooth – Rough – Liso – Áspero

Hot – Cold – Caliente – Frio

Warm – Cool – Cálido – Fresco

Fat – Thin – Gordo – Delgado

Thick – Thin – GruesoFino

Hard – Soft – Duro – Suave

Another way to increase your vocabulary is to learn words that show degrees of the adjective.  For example, the student could say “It is very hot,” but the native speaker might say, “It is boiling.”  Here again the student doesn’t have to say “boiling.”  He or she can say “very hot,” but they will have to be able to passively recognize what “boiling” means.  There is no easy way to do this unfortunately, but learning through groups of similar words makes it easier.

Very thin…skinny…skin and bones

Very bad…awful…terrible…horrible

Very good…terrific…great

Very happy…overjoyed…delighted

Very cold…freezing

Very clean…spotless

Very noisy…deafening

Very calm…peaceful

Very tired…exhausted…dead tired

Very wet…soaked…drenched

Very funny…hilarious

Very dirty…filthy


Written by our english teacher Mike Dean Alger for Aston School

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