Vocabulary knowledge is the single most important factor contributing to reading comprehension – Laflamme, 1997


The core to earning a top grade mark in English Literature or Composition involves the mastery of an array of skills, chief among which, is using extensive vocabulary. This means students must never ever try to make their writing look more academic by using “clever” words for their own sake. Instead, always understand that there is a difference between a person’s passive vocabulary (the words one understands) and a person’s active vocabulary (the words one actually uses).

Ever Tried

LEARN THE CULTURE. There are a number of different kinds of English around the world. British and American English might seem the same, but there are many little differences.

When you are learning new words in English, keep in mind from which country your syllabus is coming from: the UK or USA . You should learn British English if your syllabus is from OCR, AQA or Edexcel and American English if your syllabus is from College Board or Advanced Placement, and so on.

The word color, for example, is spelled as “colour” in British English. British people use the words “brilliant” and “cheers” often, but Americans prefer to say “cool” instead of “brilliant” and “see you” instead of “cheers.”

A SYNONYM is a word or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word or phrase.

In each of the following groups, circle the item that means the same as the boldface word in the introductory phrase:

  1. intermittent snow: A. irregular   B. uninterrupted    C. drifting
  2. A sylvan setting A. urban   B. rural  C. barren
  3. A moot issue   A. debatable   B. pressing   C. secondary
  4. Delivered a diatribe A. baby   B. tirade   C. newspaper
  5. Inane comments A. laughable      B. brief   C. sensible
  6. histrionic behavior : A. melodramatic    B. proper       C. subdued
  7. abrogate the treaty: A. ratify      B. sign   C. enforce
  8. Surprised by the perspicacity: A. shrewdness     B. betrayal      C. obtuseness
  9. an incongruous remark: A. courteous      B. jarring        C. lengthy
  10. a bucolic setting: A.countryside   B. neglected   C. urban
  11. exacerbate the injury: A. treat   B. report   C. intensify
  12. known for their idiosyncrasies: A. individualistic   B. intelligence   C. wealth
  13. a lackadaisical performance:  A. indifferent   B. energetic   C. unenthusiastic
  14. emulate the actress  A. praise     B. mimic    C. criticise
  15. banal lyrics: A. sentimental      B. trite C. effective

ANSWERS: 1a  2b  3a  4b  5b  6a  7b  8a  9c  10b 11c 12a  13c  14b  15c

How did fair?

Once again Dear Reader, with practice you will see your vocabulary improving so much in both written and spoken.

Good luck in all your endeavours.

As of old: BE EMPOWERED and EXCEL!

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