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Use specific words

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The English language is full of generic words, like 'nice', 'good', 'bad', 'ok' and other words that we overuse. Sometimes the meanings of those words match the context, as in 'I'm fine'. Other times they are not specific enough, as in 'It was a nice day'. There are other words that will match better, like 'bright', 'sunny'. As you learn English, learn which words match the context more closely.

The word 'good' is another word that might have better alternatives. For example, we can say 'He was a good boy', or we might say 'obedient', 'polite', 'smart', 'intelligent', 'thoughtful', 'well-mannered', 'sympathetic' or 'quiet'.

Words that are more specific match the meaning more closely. Sometimes the difference is the degree. For example, 'pretty' is more beautiful than 'nice', 'gorgeous' and 'stunning' are even more beautiful.

Other times words can be associated to each other, but have slightly different meanings, like 'beautiful' and 'charming'.

Still other times the difference is one of context. The word 'pad' is another word for 'house' or 'apartment', but the context is very informal, as in 'Come to my pad to watch the game.'

Try to increase your vocabulary with more specific words everyday. A great resource is a thesaurus. A thesaurus is a book with synonyms and antonyms. It's comparable to a dictionary, but it has no definitions. A thesaurus is a great tool to expand your knowledge of English.

Generic and specific words

  • Dark - gloomy, obscure, overcast
  • Mean - hostile, rude, malicious, nasty, unpleasant
  • Different - unlike, distinct
  • Beautiful - attractive, appealing, pleasing, stunning
  • Now - current, presently, immediately
  • Come - check in, drop in, enter, make it, pop in, pop up, show up
Last Updated on Sunday, 28 February 2010 17:38  

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