Friday, August 27, 2010

Variety is the spice of life - part II

This is a follow up to my previous post.

As well as nouns and verbs, you can also apply to adjectives the idea of exploring similar and opposite words. For example, you can describe an idea as being new, but you can alternately describe it as innovative, original, fresh, brand-new or cutting-edge. Conversely, an idea can be tired, conventional, ordinary or worn-out.

Likewise, you can qualify an idea as silly, but the same idea can be ridiculous, asinine, preposterous, absurd or lame. On the other hand, an idea can be sensible, reasonable, or suitable. All these adjectives, synonymous and antonymous alike, are close in meaning.

As far as adjectives, another good idea is to arrange continuums of intensity from one extreme to the opposite extreme. Take the adjectives hot/cold. You can insert a number of other adjectives in between, and even beyond, those two extremes and end up with a wider selection of words:

hot > cold

hot > warm > cool > cold

hot > warm > tepid > cool > cold

boiling > hot > warm > tepid > cool > cold > freezing

This exercise provides with more nuances of meaning to your target words, and consequently a richer vocabulary. Another example:

embarrassed > proud

embarrassed > pleased > proud

humiliated > embarrassed > pleased > proud > boastful

Similarly, you can apply continuums to basically any class of words in English. Take the verb "to talk":

talk > whisper

scream > talk > whisper

scream > talk > murmur > whisper

shriek > scream > talk > murmur > whisper

In the future, I’ll be providing more continuums. It’s up to you now. This can be done either mentally or in writing. Start by thinking of antonyms and synonyms of the words you are learning. Then move on and try to come up with a continuum using those words.

The most important thing is to keep a curious, inquisitive mind. See? I too am using synonyms! As I pointed out in the previous post, it’s an easy and fun exercise to do. Start now!

I’ll be writing more about ideas to help you boost your vocabulary. This is goodbye for now!

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