Lecture 2 Vocabulary

Lecture Notes

for Sunday June 03, 2012



The average recommended vocabulary for a college student is 60, 000 words. Developing vocabulary is essential as it touches much more than the academic aspect of ones life. Simply put, an individual with an underdeveloped vocabulary will sound and consequently appear unintelligent. This will eventually affect that individuals self efficacy.


Other more poignant reasons include the fact that self expression by humans is enhanced by a wide vocabulary. Speaking and writing are therefore impacted very heavily by a good vocabulary. An underdeveloped vocabulary means one will not be able to communicate thoughts and ideas effectively nor understand other individuals clearly. It enhances comprehension capabilities and reading skills.


Our ability to function in today’s complex social and economic worlds is mightily affected by our language skills and word knowledge.


Using the Dictionary and Thesarus to Develop Vocabulary


Dictionaries are quite useful in vocabulary development as they provide meanings for unfamiliar words, as well as, suggest synonyms for same. It is essential for one to own a good lexicon and have it at hand especially when reading new and complex material.


Strategies for Spelling Difficult Words


Problem Parts

Students will identify the parts of the word which are troublesome and then revise the correct spelling thoroughly. This can also be paired with an activity such as ‘chunking.’ Chunking happens when the learner spells the word in bits. In many cases, chunking is similar to syllabication. However, the bits the word is broken into, depends heavily on the learners personal choice.

For example: Ambiguous. The troublesome part of this word for a student might be the – uous. When the learner identifies the troublesome section, it is important for memorisation to take place. Associations can also be made; such as the fact the that the “us” sound is made in some instances by the “-ous.”


Spelling New Words


Another method is ‘saying and sounding out’ the words.


  1. Look at the word and say it.

  2. Spell it aloud.

  3. Think about it.

  4. Picture it.

  5. Look at it and write it.

  6. Cover, write, and check it.


Creating Memory Tricks of Mnemonics


A mnemonic is a memory aid used to develop learning of new words, concepts etc. The same can be dome for learning new words. Simply associate the new/ difficult word with something that you are familiar with.

For example: There is a LIE in believe. (This is if one is not certain whether ‘I’ comes before ‘e’

Using Meaning Helpers

Pair a word with a shorter, related word that gives a sound clue:

For example: act—action; heal—health


Syllables are single speech parts made up of one vowel sound with or without more closely combined consonant sounds. Every time you speak a syllable, your mouth opens and closes- your jaw drops once.

Syllabication, then is, taking a word apart into syllables in order for one to spell it correctly. For example: Pronounce can be separated into two syllables “Pro – ’and “-nounce’

Commonly Misspelled Words

Many students often misspell words simply because the words are similar in sound or appearance to others. Common example of this include the words they’re, their, there. The word ‘they’re’ is a contraction of the words ‘they’ and ‘are’. It is often confused with the word ‘their’ which is a subject pronoun. It is also often confused with the word ’there’ which is a demonstrative pronoun used to indicate location or an adverb, depending on its positioning and use in a sentence.


A contraction is a shortened for of a word, where an apostrophe is used at the section where the vowel is omitted. Example: Do not would be contracted to bcome “don’t’. Some contractions often cause spelling problems.


A homophone is a word that is pronounced the same as another word but differs in meaning. The words may be spelled the same, such as rose (flower) and rose (past tense of “rise”), or differently, such as carat, caret, and carrot, or to, two, and too.

A homonym, however, is a group of words that share the same spelling and the same pronunciation but have different meanings.

Synonyms and Antonyms are words which are similar and opposite in meaning respectively.

Prefixes and Suffixes in Learning New Words

Most words used in the English language today were not originally English. These words were borrowed (taken) from other languages. The majority of English words have Latin or Greek origins. Iit is helpful to know some of these origins or “roots” of English vocabulary. It may be possible to guess the meaning of an unknown word when one knows the meaning of its root. Knowing prefixes and suffixes can also assist in the process.

An English word can consist of three parts: the root, a prefix and a suffix. The root is the part of the word that contains the basic meaning (definition) of the word. The root is the base element of the word. A prefix is a word element that is placed in front of a root. A prefix changes the word’s meaning or makes a new word. A suffix is a word element that is placed after the root. The suffix changes the word’s meaning as well as its function (use). Prefixes and suffixes are called affixes because they are attached to a root.


  • Root: act

root (act):

means “do” or “perform”

act (root):



verb; to perform, behave
noun; a performance, a thing done


You act like a child.

  • Prefix: re-

Prefix (re-):

means “back” or “again”

react (prefix + root):

“do back”


verb; to act in response to something,
to act in opposition to something


How will she react when she hears the news?

  • Suffix: -ion

Suffix (-ion):

indicates that the word has become a noun

reaction (prefix + root + suffix):

something done back


noun; a response to something,
an opposing action


Her reaction to the news was childish.

Usng Punctuation Marks to Establish Meraning

Comma (,)

  1. Use commas to separate items in a series.
    Example: Our itinerary included Rome, London, and Madrid.

  2. Use a comma before and, but, or, nor, for, so, and yet, when they join independent clauses (unless the clauses are short).
    Example: The story gets off to a slow start, but it gets exciting toward the end.

  3. Use commas to set off nonessential clauses and phrases.
    Example: My father, who started this company, really knows his stuff.

  4. Use a comma after introductory elements.
    Examples: Well, how do you do?
    Before you leave, turn off the lights.

  5. Use commas to set off an expression that interrupts a sentence.
    Examples: The article in The Herald, our local paper, is about writing skills. Cabs in New York, I’m certain, obey the speed limit.

  6. Use a comma in certain conventional situations (to separate items in dates and addresses, after the salutation and closing of a letter, and after a name followed by a title).
    Examples: January 1, 1992
    New York, NY
    Dear Shirley,
    Albert Schweitzer, Ph.D.

Don’t use unnecessary commas. Use them sparingly and only to clarify issues. Commas in the wrong places can be confusing.

Apostrophe (‘)

  1. To form the possessive case of a singular noun, add an apostrophe and an s.
    Examples: Bob’s car; One’s home.
    If the addition of an “
    s” produces an awkward sound, add only the apostrophe. Usually, this is when there is already a double “s” sound.
    Examples: Moses’; for old times’ sake; for goodness’ sake.

  2. To form the possessive case of a plural noun, add an apostrophe after the s.
    Example: girls’ teams.
    If the plural form of the word does not end in s, add an apostrophe and an
    Example: women’s team.

  3. Use an apostrophe to show where letters have been omitted in a contraction.
    Examples: can’t = cannot; it’s = it is.

Semicolon (;)

  1. Use a semicolon between independent clauses not joined by and, but, nor, for, yet, and so.
    Example: Read what you’ve written; don’t just pass it on.

  2. Use a semicolon between independent clauses joined by such words as for example, besides, nevertheless, etc.
    Example: I think he’s right; however, it’s difficult to know.

  3. Use a semicolon between items in a series if the items contain commas.
    Example: Winners in the competition were Bill, first place; Amy, second place; and Jeff, third place.

Colon (:)

  1. Use a colon to mean “note what follows.”
    Example: When you go to training, take these items: paper, pencil, and an alert mind.

  2. Use a colon before a long, formal statement or quotation.
    Example: We remember Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address: Four score and seven years ago….

Hyphen (-)

  1. Use a hyphen to divide a word at the end of a line.
    Example: If you are not sure where to hyphen-
    ate a word, look it up in the dictionary.

  2. Hyphenate a compound adjective when it precedes the word it modifies.
    Examples: fast-moving train, long-distance runner.

Dash (–)

  1. Use a dash to indicate an abrupt break in thought.
    Example: The truth is–and you probably know it–we can’t do without you.

  2. Use a dash to mean namely, in other words, or that is before an explanation.
    Example: It was a close call–if he had been in a worse mood, I don’t think I’d still be here.

Quotation Marks (” “)

  1. Put periods and commas inside quotes.

  2. Put colons and semicolons outside quotes.

  3. Vary placement of exclamation and question marks according to meaning.


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