“Talking and eloquence are not the same: to speak, and to speak well, are two things.” ~ Ben Jonson (English playwright and poet)

A good vocabulary can be a huge stepping stone to academic and career success. It is often incorrectly presupposed that learning new words is useful only for writers or speakers. This is not so. Vocabulary benefits everyone, both personally and professionally.

When we speak of the significance of vocabulary, it is important to note that the objective of having good vocabulary isn’t to simply throw fancy or complicated words around but rather, to be able to choose words with greater precision in order to speak and write with greater clarity, meaning, and beauty.

While having a good vocabulary can be a great boost to one’s career, one also reaps many other benefits! Having a large vocabulary at one’s disposal enables faster completion of work. In fact, it also improves abstract thinking as words can shape our thoughts.

A robust vocabulary needs to be built and strengthened from a young age. Good vocabulary in children is intimately connected to both effective reading and writing skills, and these skills in turn are necessary for doing well in academics. Research studies state that in the majority of cases students have to see, read and interact with words 5-7 times before they are imprinted to long-term memory. Thus, students need a learning environment in which they are constantly introduced to and exposed to the usage of new words.

While parents can be the first teacher to introduce new words to their children, the major role is played by teachers who undoubtedly have a strong influence on students' learning. Now, the best part about strengthening students' vocabulary is that the teachers get to learn new words too! However, teaching vocabulary can be a bit tricky as it is more about actively involving students in it rather than just guiding them. As Benjamin Franklin said, “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

A good vocabulary certainly looks good on everyone! Evelyn Waugh said, “One forgets words as one forgets names, one’s vocabulary needs constant fertilizing or it will die”. Thus, developing vocabulary isn’t limited only for primary stage learners. In order to build and maintain good vocabulary, one should have a thirst to learn new words as it’s a continuous process. Teachers or students, we all are always learners!

Vocabulary is as much about understanding the meanings of words as it is about learning new and fancy words. Before we venture into learning new words, let’s check the foundation first. Many of us get confused with similar words. So, let’s begin our series with some of the common vocabulary errors we make.

Top 10 Common Vocabulary Errors

1. Advice Vs Advise

Advice is a noun and advise is a verb.

He took my advice and bought the car.
I advised him to buy the car.

2. Breathe vs. Breath

Breathe is a verb, and breath is the noun form of breathe.

Shekhar breathed his last breath on Friday.

3. Capital vs. Capitol

Capital means either an uppercase letter, the seat of the government, or money. The Capitol is the actual building where the government sits.

I would like to visit the Capitol in the capital of India.

2. Complement vs. Compliment

A complement is related to completion, while a compliment relates to flattering words or acts.

Her jewellery was a nice complement to her saree.
He complimented her on her attire

5. Emigrate vs. Immigrate

Emigrate means “to move away from a city or country,” whereas immigrate means “to move into a country from somewhere else.”

Her father emigrated from Sri Lanka.
Her mother immigrated to India.

6. Further vs. Farther

The words further and farther are used to mean “more distant”. Farther for physical distance, and further for metaphorical distance.

I think the place is farther away.
I think you are moving further away from me.

7. Historic vs. Historical

Historic describes something momentous or important in history. Historical simply describes something that belongs to an earlier period of history.

What a historic match!
She decided to wear a historical costume for the party.

8. Into vs. In To

Into is a preposition showing what something is inside. In and to are two words that just happen to be next to each other on occasion.

My brother is into rock music.
He just sat in to audit the meeting.

9. Login Vs Log in

Log in is a verb that means to enter credentials to access a site. Login is a noun that means a password and a username, or the thing you enter when logging in.

I forgot my login and had to get an email reminder.
This is the fourth time I am trying to log in.

10. Stationary vs. Stationery

Stationary means “not moving”. Stationery refers to paper, matching envelopes, and writing implements.

Of course the door will remain stationary if you don’t push it the right way!
She regularly pilfered stamps and stationery from work!


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That’s it for our first lesson. Stay tuned to know more in our ‘Vocabulary Matters’ series and join our community - Because Learning Matters to get your weekly vocabulary dose!