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Study English vocabulary
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Carry a small notebook (paper or electronic) at all times, and write down new words when you come across them. Test yourself on new words you learn; try to use these new words, and look for them in things you read.
Vocabulary textbooks can be a useful way of studying words in a structured way, with words being groups by subject.
Some possible methods of increasing your vocabulary are suggested below.

English Vocabulary in Use: Elementary
Author: Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: April 1999
Target Vocabulary 1 (Elementary)
Author: Peter Watcyn-Jones
Publisher: Penguin
Date: April 1994
English Vocabulary in Use: Pre-intermediate and Intermediate
Author: Stuart Redman
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: February 1997
Target Vocabulary 2 (Intermediate)
Author: Peter Watcyn-Jones
Publisher: Penguin
Date: September 1994
English Vocabulary in Use: Upper-intermediate
Author: Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: November 2001
Target Vocabulary 3 (Upper-intermediate)
Author: Peter Watcyn-Jones
Publisher: Penguin
Date: January 1995
English Vocabulary in Use: Advanced
Author: Michael McCarthy, Felicity O'Dell
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: June 2002

Business Vocabulary in Use
Author: Bill Mascull
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Date: January 2002

Author: John Seely
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Date: July 2002
Key Words in Business
Editor: Bill Mascull
Publisher: Collins Educational
Date: April 1996
Longman Photo Dictionary of British English
Publisher: Longman
Date: September 2001
Collins Talking English Dictionary (CD software)
Publisher: Intense Educational

Vocabulary in context

The British National Corpus (BNC) is a 100 million word collection of samples of written and spoken language from a wide range of sources, designed to represent a wide cross-section of current British English, both spoken and written.
You can see some example sentences showing how a word or phrase is used by searching the British National Corpus; see

Word frequencies

One way for advanced English students to increase their vocabulary is to learn words according to the order of frequency of usage. The dictionary "Collins Cobuild English Dictionary for Advanced Learners" contains information on the frequency of usage of the words it lists, helping the user to concentrate on the most common words first. For details, see: Dictionary.
A list of the most common words in British English is contained in the file lemma.num available free from the site:

Word Frequencies in Written and Spoken English
Author: Geoffrey Leech, Paul Rayson, Andrew Wilson
Publisher: Longman
Date: July 2001


When you learn a new word, why not see if there are other words with similar or opposite meanings (synonyms or antonyms) and study these at the same time? One way of doing this would be to use Roget's Thesaurus, which is available online at:
Solving crossword puzzles (the ones with simple or "straight" clues are easier) can be a good way to increasing vocabulary. You can use a thesaurus or a crossword dictionary to help you. Crosswords appear every day in most British newspapers, or books of crossword puzzles can be bought.
Some electronic dictionaries provide links to similar or opposite words, helping you to expand your vocabulary

Roget's Thesaurus of English Words and Phrases
Editor: Betty Kirkpatrick
Publisher: Penguin Books
Date: October 2000
Bradford's Crossword Solver's Dictionary
Editor: Anne R. Bradford
Publisher: Peter Collin Publishing
Date: October 2000

Word origins

Learning about the origin of a word or phrase (its etymology) can make the study of vocabulary more interesting, and can also help you to understand the connections between words. There is an online dictionary of etymology at:

Many English words originated from Latin and Greek. Advanced students may find it helpful to study at the same time words which come from the same word stem. Did you know that the word "telephone" comes from the Greek roots "tele" (meaning far) and "phone" (meaning sound)? "Tele" is the link between telephone (far hearing), television (far sight), telegraph (far writing), telepathy (far feeling). "Phone" is the link between telephone (far hearing) phonetic (connected with hearing), microphone (small hearing). A list of Latin and Greek roots and examples of words which use them is available from the Buncha Roots site at

The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Etymology
Editor: T. F. Hoad
Publisher: Oxford Paperbacks
Date: June 1993
Cassell's Dictionary of Word and Phrase Origins
Editor: Nigel Rees
Publisher: Cassell
Date: March 2002

English Words from Latin and Greek Elements
Author: Donald M. Ayers
Publisher: University of Arizona Press
Date: September 1986

English Vocabulary Quick Reference
Author: Roger S Crutchfield
Publisher: Independent Publishers Group
Date: January 1999

American English / British English word differences

Some word differences: British English (American English):

A: Aerial (antenna); Aeroplane (airplane); Aluminium (aluminum); Anti-clockwise (counter-clockwise); Aubergine (eggplant); Autumn (fall)
B: Biro (ballpoint); Block of flats (apartment building); Biscuit (cookie); Bonnet (hood); Boot (trunk); Braces (suspenders)
C: Cannabis (marijuana); Car (automobile); Caretaker (janitor); Chemist (drug store); Cinema (movies); Condom (rubber); Corn (maize/sweet corn); Cot (crib); Courgette (zucchini); Crisps (potato chips); Crossroads (intersection); Cupboard (closet)
D: Dinner jacket (tuxedo); Draughts (checkers); Dustbin (trashcan)
E: Essay (term paper); Estate agent (realtor)
F: Film (movie); First floor (second floor); Flat (apartment); Flyover (overpass)
G: Garden (yard); Grill (broil); Ground floor (first floor)
H: Handbag (purse); Hoarding (billboard); Holiday (vacation); Homework (assignment)
J: Jam (jelly); Jelly (Jello); Jug (pitcher)
K: Knickers (panties)
L: Lawyer, solicitor (attorney); Lift (elevator); Lorry (truck)
M: Maths (math)
N: Nappy (diaper); Notice board (bulletin board)
P: Pants (underpants); Paraffin (kerosene); Pavement (sidewalk); Petrol (gas); Plaster (Band-Aid); Post (mail); Postcode (zip code); Power point (outlet); Pram (baby carriage); Pub (bar); Pudding (dessert); Purse (changepurse)
Q: Queue (line)
R: Railway (railroad); Reverse charges (call collect); Ring (call) - telephone; Roundabout (traffic circle); Rubber (eraser); Rubbish bin (garbage can/trash can)
S: Sacked (fired); Scone (biscuit); Serviette (paper napkin); Sofa (couch); Solicitor/barrister (attorney); Spanner (wrench); Subway (underpass); Sweets (candy)
T: Tap (spigot/faucet); Taxi (cab); Tea towel (dish towel); Tick (check); Tights (pantyhose); Timetable (schedule); Tin (can); Torch (flashlight); Trainers (sneakers); Tramp (hobo); Trousers (pants)
U: Underground (subway)
V: Vest (undershirt)
W: Waistcoat (vest); Windscreen (windshield)
Z: Zip (zipper)

The following are guides to British English words and phrases:

British English A to Zed
Authors: Norman W. Schur, Eugene Ehrlich
Publisher: Facts on File Inc
Date: May 2001
The (Very) Best of British: the American's Guide to Speaking British
Author: Mike Etherington
Publisher: Effingpot Productions
Date: September 2000

Lonely Planet: British Phrasebook
Authors: E.Bartsch-Parker, S.Burger, R.O'Maolalaigh
Publisher: Lonely Planet Publications
Date: June 1999


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