So you want to build your vocabulary? The answers are really simple, I swear, and you can do it! However, before we go in any detail I want to make something clear...
Just because you know those big, fancy words DOESN'T mean you have to or should use them!
Smaller words can be as effective and, sometimes, more effective.
Vocabulary is important, there isn't any doubt about it. Using, or finding, the right word can be key when you're writing. Though we don't always quite know the right word and maybe you never knew it or you just can't quite remember what it was. Either way, you are now determined to fill up that vocabulary!
Large words are fantastic, if used properly. Don't try to impress your reader by throwing out a bunch of obscure, long words. If you must use them do so sparingly. It's just as important to remember that your readers are intelligent and chances are they may know what the word means or they'll use a dictionary!
The Dictionary is Your Friend
Speaking of dictionaries... Have you found a word that has you stumped? Find your closest dictionary and search up the word! The best way to build your vocabulary is to look something up when you don't understand it. Don't be afraid to admit that you don't know what a word means. While you're looking up that word, you can skim through and discover other new words! That's the start to building a good, solid vocabulary.
The thesaurus is great because is lists lots synonyms for you in one nifty place! BUT! Be wary of this! Each word has it's own definition! You want to be sure the word you're using is what you mean. When you grab a thesaurus, reach for the dictionary too.
For example "big", "colossal", "enormous", and "immense" are technically synonyms. Each word conveys a different meaning when you are reading it, so again, choose wisely.
It's really that simple, read. Read books, read magazines, articles, newspapers, anything you can get your hands on that has words and most importantly read, read, read. The more you read the more words you will come by! Remember, if you come across a word you don't know, or are unsure of, look it up.
Write Down Those Words
Yes, write them down, or type them out if you prefer. If you engage yourself with the word by physically typing or writing it out you're more likely to remember it. You don't have to go overboard and write it fifty times if that doesn't help you. Also, if you're more of a verbal person trying saying the word out loud to remember it better. Keep a notebook or word document of all the words you've had to look up!
Questions to ask yourself.
Do I really know what each word means? Am I positive, or should I look it up?
Is that really the best word? Is it too complicated or too easy?
Am I trying too hard to impress my reader?