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October 18, 2015

Lost a Word? Synonyms to the Rescue!

Many people are asking, "How do I improve my vocabulary?"  

Naturally, we want express our thoughts in multiple ways to add clarity and crispness. Sometimes, the first word or sentence that comes to our minds does not convey the meaning that we want to convey or is not understood by the person we are talking with. Repeating the same words over and over again is not an effective technique. To overcome this, expanding our vocabulary is one way of overcoming this hurdle.

For example, let us observe this conversation between A and B:
Paul: He always procrastinates.
Lori: What does that mean?
Paul: He always procrastinates.

A repeats the same sentence because he does not know another word (synonym) for ‘procrastinate.’ But, Lori still does not understand Paul. 

Now, let us imagine that Paul knows a synonym for the word ‘procrastinate’. The conversation would continue this way:

Paul: I mean to say that he always puts things off.
Lori: I understand now.

Lori is able to understand Paul when he uses a synonym phrase for ‘procrastinate’.

One way of expanding our vocabulary is to learn and use synonyms. Synonyms are words that have a similar meaning. Synonyms can add different depths of meaning and expression to otherwise bland statements.

Here’s an example:
‘I need your help to complete this task by tomorrow.’

Update Using a Synonym:
'I need your assistance to complete this task by tomorrow.'

Another example:
‘Being punctual is important for our success.’

Update Using a Synonym:
'Arriving on time is important for our success.’

Here are a few tips when using synonyms: 

• Write out the sentence that you want to use or repeat it multiple times.
• Choose a word to replace with a synonym.
• Look up the definition of the synonym.
• Does the definition convey the meaning of what you want to say?
• Try using synonyms in daily conversations to build up your vocabulary and range of expressions. 

What can be used as synonyms? 
  • A word with a similar meaning
  • A phrase with a similar meaning
  • The definition of the word 
I hope these tips and forthcoming posts will be useful in expanding your vocabulary. Please share any thoughts or feedback in the comment section below.

Thank you.

Author, Jennifer Kumar, is an expat, a US citizen and trainer based in Infopark, Kerala. In addition to holding personalized sessions on communicative English in Infopark, Kakkanad, Indian IT professionals also contact her for bridging the culture gap, preparing them for US business trips, and in building confident, successful interactions with their US counterparts.  

Chris Sufi is a freelance editor who lives in Bangalore, India. Her personal interest in language and communication inspires her to contribute through proofreading and editing. She can be contacted here.  

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This article is the intellectual property of Authentic Journeys Consultancy Pvt. Ltd. Copyright ©2012, Updated 2014, 2015, Jennifer Kumar. All Rights Reserved. Do not reprint without permission. 

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We help build effective, culturally competent global teams with focus on the cultures of the USA and India. Jennifer Kumar, Managing Director, an American citizen, has almost 10 years experience living, studying and working (owning a business) in India. Authentic Journeys Consultancy is registered as a Private Limited in India (Kerala) and an LLC in the USA (Salt Lake City, Utah). We provide onsite and live-online instructor-led courses, facilitation and corporate coaching.