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It's been a problem of mine for some time that I use a very limited vocabulary in my writing. I have an understanding and can read a ton more words than I use in my speech or writing.

Any suggestions, tips, tricks, on how to add words into my vernacular?

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i agree that reading is very useful, especially reading things you usually wouldn't. building vocabulary can be a good excuse to pick up a quality thesaurus and dictionary. again, i agree with adam icarus that you can miss a word's connotations, but sometimes cross-referencing between, say, roget's thesaurus and a dictionary can help. then try them out when you're revising, which isn't a very interesting trick.

btw, have you guys seen the visual thesaurus? it's not very useful for learning new words, but is pretty categorizing:
http://www.visualthesaurus.com/index.jsp
ah, i did just think of something i do--correspond with my friends in various literary/historical styles. i have one friend whose natural voice is pretty late victorian and that's a work out for me. but you can do anything--pirate or 1920s or hardboiled. i can actually do a pretty good cotton mather. i hadn't thought of it as a way to build vocabulary, but it might be a good trick...
ahhh...i have this same problem!

i try to read a lot, and i read anything and everything. i feel like the more words i learn and take in, the more likely i am to use them in my writing. during the editing process, i keep a dictionary and a thesaurus close by so that when i get frustrated by using the same words over and over, i can look them up to find an alternative and possibly a better word than i had originally used.

there are also lots of books out there made to expand your vocabulary, like this one!
I really agree with this. When I learn a new word that's fab, I make myself use it a few times in conversation. It makes it stick in your mind, and start to think of how to use it.

Adam Icarus said:
Pick a handful of words to force into your speech and writing. Use them over and over until it feels natural and sounds good. Rinse and repeat.
I agree Adam. This is why I am actually searching for more activities or word games which may help. I do have a fear of sounding like I used a Thesaurus. Though, that could also just be the fear instilled into me as the product of public school/community college English. It was almost as if they discouraged use of Thesuari (???? plural???)

Perhaps trying out an SAT vocabulary builder workbook or software may help.


Adam Icarus said:
This approach gives you more words to use, but only after editing, and it's far too easy to take a word that sounded right in the sentence and replace it with a longer/more obscure word that just doesn't work as well. Personally, I'm far more comfortable learning the words before I sit down to write, that way things feel right when it's finally done, and I'm perfectly sure of the meaning of the word, as synonyms can sometimes have subtle differences in meaning.

I'm Not Lion / Zacery said:
Do what I do: write with microsoft word and for each word right click for "synonyms", if you can't do this then a thesaurus (online or physical) is useful - my sister has a thesaurus.
crosswords?
I'm Not Lion / Zacery said:
Monstress Zine said:
ah, i did just think of something i do--correspond with my friends in various literary/historical styles. i have one friend whose natural voice is pretty late victorian and that's a work out for me. but you can do anything--pirate or 1920s or hardboiled. i can actually do a pretty good cotton mather. i hadn't thought of it as a way to build vocabulary, but it might be a good trick...
Ha! That's so cool! You could write an entire zine as though it had been written by a pirate, I love it.

thanks, it's fun. i end up reading a lot of interesting background material, too. my favorite has probably been writing a friend traveling in france as if she were escaping some sort of 1930s society scandal. and being gentlemen scholars is always fun. you should go ahead and write a pirate zine.
public school/college has ingrained that fear in me as well. maybe you could establish "thesaurus time" or something--a clearly delineated time/place where you were writing/sounding like a thesaurus with your friends?

NicoleIntrovert said:
I agree Adam. This is why I am actually searching for more activities or word games which may help. I do have a fear of sounding like I used a Thesaurus. Though, that could also just be the fear instilled into me as the product of public school/community college English. It was almost as if they discouraged use of Thesuari (???? plural???)

Perhaps trying out an SAT vocabulary builder workbook or software may help.


Adam Icarus said:
This approach gives you more words to use, but only after editing, and it's far too easy to take a word that sounded right in the sentence and replace it with a longer/more obscure word that just doesn't work as well. Personally, I'm far more comfortable learning the words before I sit down to write, that way things feel right when it's finally done, and I'm perfectly sure of the meaning of the word, as synonyms can sometimes have subtle differences in meaning.

I'm Not Lion / Zacery said:
Do what I do: write with microsoft word and for each word right click for "synonyms", if you can't do this then a thesaurus (online or physical) is useful - my sister has a thesaurus.
I think that using simple language is an asset, not a fault, unless it's actually necessary to use a wider vocabulary to adequate address a subject.
in my experience, "sounding like a thesaurus" is less about using fancy words and more about using them just incorrectly enough that they seem off, conflict with the tone or come across as a barely concealed list of synonyms rather than the exact right word for the job.
my vocab is variegated...
apt when necessary
oof! after a slug
i.e., a gargantuanosity...fins.
The funny but true answer:
I read Bad Religion lyrics when I was 15. It helped... and also annoyed everyone around me.

Now I just read the occasional novel and do crossword puzzles with beer and Paul at the pub. When we get stumped we check the internet and call it "studying"

My problem is that I know a plethora of words but don't know how to spell them. I must be doing something right (or maybe wrong) because I have had two conversation this past week where people have stopped me to ask what a word I used meant.

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