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Links for Improving Your Vocabulary


Learning the vocabulary of any language is essential to its mastery. Because English has the largest number of words, over 1,000,000, it is clearly among the most challenging.

Why learn more words? Since the average adult has a vocabulary of only 40,000-50,000 words, it is easy to see that the more terms you know and use the better you are able to express yourself, an essential skill in the college classroom and the workplace. Here is some information to help you reach this goal.


Strategies to Increase Your Vocabulary

Textbooks are full of new terminology, so much so that you could argue that learning chemistry is largely a mater of learning the language of chemists and that mastering philosophy or history or sociology requires a mastery of the terminology of each particular discipline.

As you look at the material found at the links listed below, select strategies that you like and that you will use each day as you study within each discipline.

woman working on laptop

Vocabulary: An On-Going Process This is a good illustration about the number of words most people know. (Virginia Tech)

14 Ways to Increase Your Vocabulary Good tips with useful links. You need to scroll down the list. (Niagara University)

Building a Better Vocabulary This comprehensive site includes strategies to improve your vocabulary; prefixes and suffixes; quizzes; dictionary use, and more. (Capital Community College)

A Word A Day Sign up for a free subscription and learn a new word every day.

Building a College Level Vocabulary: How to Remember New Words Follow these guidelines to increase your retention of vocabulary terms. (University of Alabama)

Vocabulary: An On Going Process How big is your vocabulary? Check this site and get an idea, then read the short suggestions to make your word knowledge grow.(Virginia Tech)

Vocabulary Training Exercises These activities are in English, French, German, and Spanish.

Dealing with New Words Five tips for learning unfamiliar words. Be sure to check out the links at the end of "Further Resources." Note that some information at the end is for University of Toronto students only. (University of Toronto)

How to Remember New Words Learn how to use context to figure out what words mean. (University of Alabama)


Vocabulary Lists

Vocabulary lists are helpful IF you have developed a strategy to learn and retain the words, their meanings, and usage. Here are some lists of words that college students are expected to know. One or more of the strategies covered in the previous section will help you make these terms your own.

5,000 Collegiate Words with Brief Definitions Great for GRE, SAT, TOEFL, and other tests!


Specialized Vocabulary: SAT, GRE, Medical and Computer Terminology

SAT and GRE Vocabulary Here you will find self-tests and flash cards. (Sheppard Software)

Sat Vocabulary in Context Quizzes are given to assess your understanding of SAT terms. (Sheppard Software)

Advanced Vocabulary in Context Additional quizzes are provided. (Sheppard Software)

Medical Terminology Numerous links to quizzes on medical terms. (WebCrawler)


Dictionary and Thesaurus Use

computer hands holding book for student

Dictionary Use What do all the symbols mean? Here are the basics.

How to Use a Dictionary What can you find in a dictionary? What do the special sections tell you? Learn some pointers to save time when using your dictionary. (University of Alabama)

Your This site includes

OneLook Dictionary Search

How to Use a Thesaurus A thesaurus helps you avoid repetition in your writing and helps you find a word for an idea you have in mind.


Visual Thesaurus Here you will find an interactive map showing the meaning of your word.

Encyclopedia Britannica Includes Merriam-Webster dictionary, Encyclopedia Britannica. World Atlas, and Thesaurus


Prefixes and Suffixes

dictionary page


Because many words in the English language come from Latin and Greek, using word parts can be a shortcut to learning new terms quickly.

These words contain three parts:

  • the root, which contains the basic meaning;
  • the prefix, which changes the meaning or makes a new word;
  • the suffix, which changes the word use.

The more you know, the faster you learn.

Vocabulary: Suffixes and Prefixes Here you will find the meanings of common suffixes and prefixes. (University of Alabama)

Vocabulary Workshop Prefixes, roots, suffixes, vocabulary, and exercises

Latin and Greek Prefixes and Suffixes Medical terms



Common Words That Sound Alike The site includes i/e words, and -ible and -able endings. Be sure to try the exercises toward the end of the page, as well as one at the bottom. (Purdue OWL)

Count and Non-count Nouns with plurals, articles, and quantity words (Purdue OWL)

Capitals (Purdue OWL)

Writing Numbers (Purdue OWL)


ESL Vocabulary

ESL Vocabulary This comprehensive site has just about everything. Take a look! (Gallaudet University)

ESL Student Resources Be sure to also click on the links for idioms, activities, reference, as well as the items in the menu on the left. (Ohio University)

Learn English There are many activities to do. Just put your cursor over each heading and a short explanation with appear. Choose the ones you think will be helpful.

 Self-Study English Vocabulary Quizzes You will find lots of tests ranked from "Easy" to "Difficulty." See how you score! (Activities for ESL Students)

Learning Vocabulary: Dictionary Use Do you want to use your dictionary to help you to understand an oral (listening) or written (reading) text? Or do you want to use your dictionary to help you produce language (speaking and writing)? This site addresses these strategies. (Using English for Academic Purposes)


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This site was created and is maintained by Barbara J. Speidel, SWC Learning Assistance Services Coordinator. @ Barbara J. Speidel

The ASC logo was created by Andrew C. Rempt. @ Andrew C. Rempt

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