1. Get a good dictionary and thesaurus
Two of the most loyal companions on your desk should be a dictionary and a thesaurus. Use the dictionary to learn the meanings and derivations of new words you encounter. Also use it to check the exact meanings and spellings of words that you are not sure of. The thesaurus is very helpful whenever you are writing and need an alternative to a word in order to avoid repetition or to achieve a variation in meaning.
2. Read, Read, Read!
In the modern world we are so busy with work and we are bombarded with so much information by TV broadcast, telephone and internet that reading books and articles can be squeezed out of our agenda. Reading the works of really good writers is one of the best ways to develop our abilities with words. Modern and classic novels, leading non-fiction books and top quality newspaper and magazine articles are all important sources for us.
3. Capture new words
Whenever we bump into new words we should turn to the dictionary and spend a moment learning the meaning and derivation of the word. Write down the word and look it up later in the dictionary or use a thesaurus to find a synonym. As you build your vocabulary you should try to use the new words in context as this helps you to remember them.
4. Write, rewrite and edit
We all write, whether it is a text message on a cell phone, an email message or a novel, and we can all improve our writing. A good way to improve your writing is to read over what you have written and ask yourself these questions:
- Does what I have written express exactly what I mean?
- Will it be clear and comprehensible to the reader?
- Can I make it more concise or more accurate?
Weed out wordiness. Use an economy of words. Be pithy.
5. Play with Words
Word games will increase your verbal dexterity and intelligence rating. Many standard IQ tests use word puzzles. Scrabble is ideal in this regard. If you want to play it seriously you will have to learn many obscure short words that use the high value letters. The dictionary game is simple but fun. One person reads out a definition from the dictionary and others have to identify the word. The reader can choose a common word but start with one of its less common meanings.
6. Listen to Yourself
If it is possible, try to view some video clips of yourself speaking or record yourself with a tape or CD recorder. This is particularly useful it you are rehearsing for an important talk or presentation. Most people are surprised to discover that they display a number of errors or bad habits in their everyday speech. Hesitation, repetition, rambling and mumbling are other common faults.
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