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What Is A Vocabulary?
A vocabulary really is two things. Your vocabulary is:
- (1) the words you recognize or understand; and
- (2) the words you use when you speak or write.
We will label these two kinds of vocabulary recognition vocabulary and use vocabulary.
For most people, your use vocabulary is nowhere near as large as your recognition vocabulary: you do not use nearly as many words when you speak or write as you recognize or understand when you hear or read those words.
But if you hear and read words in your recognition vocabulary enough times, those words will eventually shift into your use vocabulary.
You will then be able to include those words in your speech and writing.
What Is A Good Vocabulary?
A wide vocabulary means you have a large stock of words in your recognition vocabulary and use vocabulary.
A deep vocabulary means you know the different shades of meaning of those words, their sound, their history, and how to use them accurately, effectively, and persuasively.
Increasing Versus Improving Your Vocabulary
Increasing, building, growing, expanding, or enlarging your vocabulary mean that you add more words to your recognition vocabulary and use vocabulary.
Improving your vocabulary means knowing the subtle differences in meanings between words and using your stock of words with greater accuracy, effectiveness, and persuasiveness.
Now that you know these basic matters, in the next lesson we will outline the main ways for increasing your vocabulary.
Richard D Mallery, How To Enlarge and Improve Your Vocabulary (1944), Chapter 1.
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