As children, we went through grade school with reading and writing classes that taught us the same words that we now use today in everyday language. We were always emphasized how important it was to learn how to spell words, to learn how to read effectively, and to learn how to write efficiently. Today, we are college students and we’ve caught on the to basic learning process that is necessary to having a great vocabulary. Here are ways that you can expand your word toolbox.

Read, read, read

Reading really does expand your vocabulary in ways that may not seem noticeable right away. But when you start to read every single day, you begin to come across words that really stick out. You begin to question what words mean and you find yourself looking up the words that you don’t understand. Sentences start to make more sense to you in ways that they didn’t before you began reading again.

I suggest many different kinds of reading a day so that your mind gets a strong reading muscle. Different genres of books, poetry, training manuals, magazines, the newspaper, instruction manuals, and so on. Mixing it up definitely helps cultivate your word toolbox.

Write, write, write

Just like reading, writing is vitally important. After you come across those words that you don’t know and you begin to study their meanings, you can start to use them in your writing. Keeping a daily or weekly journal will help you strengthen this muscle so that the words become concreted in your head. Being able to use a strong vocabulary helps you in everyday conversations, it challenges you to think outside of the box, and it increases your social skills significantly. Buy a composition notebook and get to writing.

Read some more

Did I mention that you should read? It’s direly important. Keep reading!

Learn a new word each week

Some dictionary or thesaurus websites will give you an option to opt into an email that is sent either daily or weekly that will give you a word to study, it’s meaning, and what context to use it in. A simple, easy to use site like can help you with this. Or the Oxford English Dictionary,, can give you a historical context to use a word. Whatever you choose, make sure that you learn the word before you use it in your speaking vocabulary.

 Substitute boring words

Some words are boring, including the word “boring.” Instead of saying, “the mean dog ate my homework,” say something like, “the ferocious dog gobbled up my homework.” The reason why this is so important is because once you start to use these words, you become used to it. It becomes second nature for you to utilize them in your every day life.

All of these things will help you strengthen your vocabulary significantly. This will help you get a job, impress members of your interest group, and give you a boost when you have to write papers.

What else would you add to the list that would help someone strengthen their vocabulary?

Image credit: halderman