Appropriate Use of Vocabulary

To improve your vocabulary, read extensively across different genres and topics, noting new words and their meanings. Use a thesaurus to find synonyms (words with similar meanings) and antonyms (words with opposite meanings), enhancing precision in expressing ideas.

Learn common prefixes, suffixes and word roots to decipher unfamiliar words and recognise word families for vocabulary expansion.

  • Prefixes are letters or groups of letters added to the beginning of words to change their meaning (for example, “un-” in “unhappy” means “not”).
  • Suffixes are added to the end of words (like “-less” in “hopeless”).

Understanding prefixes and suffixes can help you to guess the meaning of new words. For example, if you know that “bio-” means life and “-logy” means the study of, you can infer that “biology” is the study of life.

  • Word roots are the base (the main part of a word) to which prefixes and suffixes can be added.
  • Word families are groups of words that have a common feature or pattern. They have some of the same combinations of letters in them and a similar sound.

Select the Right Words for Precise Meaning

Choose words that precisely convey your intended meaning. Avoid using vague or generic terms that lack clarity. Instead of saying something is “nice,” be more descriptive and use words like “delightful,” “exquisite,” or “charming.” 

Using a thesaurus can help in your search for more precise vocabulary. A thesaurus provides alternative words that carry subtle differences in meaning and connotation. It allows you to choose the most fitting word for your intended message, whether it is describing emotions, objects or experiences.

Be Mindful of Tone and Style

Tailor your vocabulary to fit the tone and style of your writing or speaking. Use formal language for academic papers, professional correspondence, or speeches.

In informal contexts, such as personal narratives or conversations with friends, you can use more relaxed and colloquial language.

Using Language Appropriate to Purpose, Audience and Genre

Adapting your language to suit the purpose, audience and genre is required for effective communication. Consider these guidelines:

  • Understand the Purpose – Identify the purpose of your communication: to inform, persuade, entertain or express emotions. Choose vocabulary that aligns with your purpose. For example, use persuasive language when trying to convince someone, or descriptive language when painting a vivid picture.
  • Consider Your Audience – Tailor your language to suit the age, background and level of understanding of your audience. Avoid using jargon or technical terms unless you provide clear explanations or are communicating with experts in the field.
  • Adapt to the Genre – Different genres have specific language conventions. For example, scientific writing requires precise and technical vocabulary, while storytelling benefits from vivid and imaginative language. 

Awareness of Connotation and Register

Understanding connotation and register helps you choose words that fit the tone and style of your writing or speaking. 

Connotation – Pay attention to the emotional associations of words. Some words may have positive, negative or neutral connotations. Choose words that align with the desired tone and evoke the appropriate emotional response from your audience.

  • For example, using words like “innovation” and “progress” in a speech about technology can evoke a sense of excitement and optimism about future advancements.

Register – Adjust your language to match the level of formality required for a particular context. Formal writing and speeches require a more elevated and professional register, while informal contexts allow for a more relaxed and conversational register.

You’ve used 10 of your 10 free revision notes for the month

Sign up to get unlimited access to revision notes, quizzes, audio lessons and more

Sign up