ESL and IELTS Help 4 U

Say what you mean

Posted on: June 7, 2010

(Words followed by an “*” may be new vocabulary. Definitions, in my own words, are below the text or look the words up at http://www.thefreedictionary.com).

One of the best things about the English language is that you can be specific* and exact* in what you say. The language has so many words to describe something that you can find the perfect word for your sentence.

This also makes English challenging to learn and use correctly.

Let’s look at the idea of beauty.  We all know Beauty and the Beast…

Some of the other English words to describe this young girl might be:

attractive

lovely

pretty

gorgeous

stunning

exquisite

Each word means something a little different. As we go down the list, the words get stronger. Something that is “gorgeous” or “exquisite” is more beautiful than something that is “attractive.”

There are two great sources to help you decide what word to use.

One is http://www.visuwords.com/. This is a super visual guide to words. Just type a word in the box at the top on the right and go. You’ll see a dance of color as all kinds of words that are like your word pop up. Look at the left of the page to see what the colors mean. If you place your cursor on a word, the meaning will show up!

The other is the Longman Language Activator. This book is the best resource I know for giving examples of how words are used. Words that have similar meanings are grouped together. And each word is used in a sentence so you can see the way it is used.

specific/exact: clear and real

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