Step 1 to Building Your Vocabulary: Which New Words to Learn?

If you want to build your vocabulary, how do you decide which words to spend the time and effort on to really learn?  While there are a hundreds of lists out there and everybody’s list has different words, my advice is to create your own list.  Start noticing the words you keep seeing but don’t yet know well enough to use and write them down.

These are the words that will have the biggest pay-off if you learn them.  You have already seen them in action so, even though you may not think so, you already have some idea of how they are used and what kinds of words they are.  You will be more interested in finding out what they mean and how to use them because they are already in your world.

For now, just start making a list.  If you aren’t sure how to spell a word, write down your best guess, put a question mark by it, and fix it when you come across it in print.  If you are willing to do a little extra work, write down how the word was used (was it describing something?  If so, what?  Was it an action?  By whom?) But just listing the word is enough for now.  The act of writing it down will invite it into your brain.  In step 2 (coming in a few days) you will start to claim it as your own.

Broach – Word of the Week July 27, 2016

Definition: (verb)  To bring up a subject for discussion or debate

 Usage Example:

She didn’t want to go to her husband’s family reunion, but so far, she hadn’t found a way to broach the subject with him.

Usage Notes:

Often used about awkward or difficult topics, when the speaker is nervous about the listener’s potential response.


Quagmire – Word of the Week July 20, 2016

Definition:  A situation that is so difficult or complicated that it is hard to make any progress.

Usage Example:  Since Jim lost all of his money gambling, he is stuck in a financial quagmire. 


quag originally meant a swamp or marshy, muddy place

mire is to get stuck




Analyze – Word of the Week July 13, 2016

Definition: (verb) To examine methodically by breaking into parts and studying their interrelations.

Usage Example: The new software analyzes the behavior of website visitors by looking at every detail of each visit.

Family Members: analyst; analysis; analytical


Lugubrious – Word of the Week 7/6/16

Definition: (adj.) mournful, dismal or gloomy, especially in an exaggerated or insincere way 

Usage Example: The love songs on her new CD were so lugubrious – they made me too depressed to keep listening.

 Etymology: from lugere (Latin) – to mourn



Day One!


Let me get started here!  I have been so busy playing with all the options for customizing my site that I almost forgot about my main goal – getting information to you about how to improve your reading, your writing, and your vocabulary.

Please see the About Me page to get an idea of who I am and what background I bring to teaching reading and writing.

My first posts are going to be “Word of the Week” entries, utilizing the research that says we should use image and rhyme to help us remember new words.

I am so glad to be here, and I look forward to filling this space with lots of fun, creative ideas about reading and writing.