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Grasping English Vocabulary through Context

English Dost
22/12/2016 1 0

Learning English vocabulary is essential to understand words in a sentence. The stronger the vocabulary skill, the better it is to comprehend what the author wishes to tell us. As children, the little Oxford pocket dictionaries were our go-to resource when we came across a strange new word and didn’t know what it meant. We would learn its meaning and try to use it every opportunity we get. But, is a dictionary valid enough?

Dictionaries will give you the exact meaning of the word you’re looking for. In a country where English is not the first language, dictionaries are responsible for building 50% of our vocabulary, helping us learn those strange words. Before the popularization of the internet, it was the primary and sole source for the many inquisitive minds.

A lot has changed since then. With everything around us evolving at a very rapid speed, so is language. The English language isn’t what it was fifteen years ago. The language experts have chosen to express themselves in unique ways. Figurative speech has become common for most modern writers today. They make use of certain words. However, what they mean or wish to express could be entirely different from the literal meaning of the word. For example, in the statement ‘My tummy could explode if I eat anymore!’, the speaker does not literally mean his tummy will burst or explode if he takes another bite. He simply means he is feeling incredibly full. Similarly, the statement ‘go fly a kite’ could be very misleading if one refers his famed Oxford dictionary and looks up the meaning of each word individually. Today, even colors have meanings of their own. People can now say they’re feeling blue, green and red without the risk of sounding silly. For a non-English speaker, it can cause a world of confusion when he comes across such statements. Dictionaries will prove to be useless.

How is one to understand meanings of such fancy idioms? Context is what plays a major role here. With a basic understanding of the paragraph or the sentence in which the unfamiliar word lies, it is, in fact, easy to determine the meaning of that word. Oddly, some recently formed simple words like ‘overchoice’ and ‘agender’ haven’t even been included in the dictionary. The meaning of the word is rather obvious if one knows the meaning of ‘over,' ‘choice’ and ‘gender.'

Thus, knowing the basics can help improve your English vocabulary to a very great extent. With a little bit of common sense and logic, context is what all one needs to grasp and master the art of English vocabulary.

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