How to Study
Vocabulary Words

Do you want to know how to study vocabulary words? First, get a list of them. A vocabulary word list is a group of words that belong to a certain subject.

A lamp and a book

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All English Tenses

Click Here for Step-by-Step Rules, Stories and Exercises to Practice All Tenses

Here are some examples:
  • A list of common verbs (be, go, do, have, etc.)
  • A list of weather adjectives (rainy, sunny, stormy, etc.)
  • A list of family nouns (mother, father, sister, brother, uncle, etc.)

You can visit Vocabulary Websites (Word Lists) section for some useful word lists. You can also take advantage of our illustrated lessons with word lists for different topics and situations. For example: restaurant vocabulary, airport vocabulary, wedding vocabulary, sports vocabulary, banking vocabulary, etc.: English Vocabulary Word Lists (Illustrated).

Now, how do you study these word lists?

There are a few things you can do.

1. Make up example sentences with each word on the list.

Just reading the word or memorizing it is not enough, at least not in most cases. But using the new word in sentences of your own, can really take you one giant step forward. Try it yourself, and see the results.

For example, let's say you are learning the word "resign" (which means "to leave your job"). You can make up some example sentences:
  • "I am sorry, but I must resign."
  • "The new manager is already leaving, he resigned yesterday."
  • "She loves her job and she will never resign."
A man thinking

2. Use the words in a story.

Take the list of words and write a short story with all of them. The story doesn't even have to make perfect sense. Even better – make it ridiculous! This can actually be fun. Check out the following example.

Let's say you are studying some verbs beginning with the letter E:
earn, eat, end, enjoy and estimate.

You can write a short story such as this:
"Andy was eating dinner and enjoying a quiet evening, when he started thinking about his future. He estimated the amount of money he must earn. This ended his enjoyment."

A lady writing a story

3. Write the words on flashcards and practice daily.

Vocabulary flashcards are special cards that you use to memorize data. They are called that way because the cards are flashed (shown quickly) to the learner. There are several things you can have on a flashcard: a word in English, a word in your own language, a photo or an illustration.

For example, you can prepare a set of cards with "food words". Write the English word on one side of the card, and on the other side put a picture, or write the translation in your own language.

Here are two examples of food flashcards (the front side of the card is on the left, and the back side of the card is on the right):

  Food flashcards  

Vocabulary flashcards are good tools to use while learning a new language. The bonus in using them is that you turn it into a game.

Vocabulary flashcards

4. Use dictations to help you memorize spelling.

Make a dictation. You can do it all by yourself. Simply follow this process:
  1. Write the words (usually no more than ten at once) on a piece of paper. Use two columns: one for English, and one for the translation in your language.

  2. Fold in the piece of paper so that you can only see the translation in your own language.

  3. Take another piece of paper and write the English words that match  the translated words. Don't look at the answers! The point is remembering by heart.

  4. When finished, compare the English words you have just written to the ones on the original paper.
At first, you might not do so well. Don't worry about it. After a few times you won't believe how much you have improved!

A word of warning though: don't use a big portion of your time for dictations. Just like flashcards, they work on simple memorization, rather than understanding. Therefore, you should use them as a supplemental exercise, and not as the main one. If you don't practice using these words later on, you can definitely forget them in the future.

A dictation

5. Practice the words in a conversation with a friend.

What are good friends for? Grab a friend, tell him or her what you need, and start practicing! Make a conversation, and try to use as many new words as possible. The conversation doesn't have to make sense. Actually, sometimes it is more fun if it doesn't... The important thing is that you improve your vocabulary and have some good laughs in the process!

A lady practicing with a friend on the phone

Related articles:

Visit the Vocabulary Activities section to improve your vocabulary!

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