How To Expand Your Vocabulary (6 Effective and Fun Ways)

How To Expand Your Vocabulary (6 Effective and Fun Ways)

Are you struggling to memorize new words?

Looking for easier ways to do it?

 The key to improving your English vocabulary is commitment and willingness to consistently learn. 

Whether you’re looking to improve your vocabulary for educational purposes or personal growth, learning how to expand your vocabulary is the first step. 

Reinforcing what you have learned is what makes the difference. 

Your journey towards vocabulary development can be challenging. But lucky for you, we’ve put together six amazing tips that will help you become a better wordsmith in no time.

6 proven ways to expand your vocabulary

Keep a Dictionary and Thesaurus Within Easy Access

When it comes to expanding your vocabulary, the dictionary and thesaurus are your primary tools. Use whatever version you prefer, be it printed, application, or online at Merriam Webster.  

Make it a habit to check your dictionary whenever you come across a new word to learn its definition and get its pronunciation right. Afterwards, check your thesaurus to uncover similar words and phrases, as well as their opposites — and learn the nuances among the words. 

In addition to the dictionary and thesaurus, there are also some free vocabulary apps that are available on both iOS and Android devices. You can download them on your device to help you learn new words anytime, anywhere.

Make Reading a Habit

Reading is one of the most effective ways to improve your vocabulary — and it’s enjoyable. 

The more you read, the more unfamiliar words you’ll uncover. 

As you stumble upon new words, try to make an educated guess about the meaning of the word based on context clues. Then double-check if you have guessed correctly by looking it up in your dictionary. 

However, if you don’t want to be interrupted during your reading time, you can highlight new words for you to check later or include them in your personal vocabulary list by jotting them down in your notebook. 

Also, if you’re not fond of physical books, you might want to consider getting Amazon Kindle Ebooks instead. 

Kindle allows you to read your favorite books on your computer, tablet, or smartphone. It also comes with amazing features to help you enjoy a hassle-free reading experience, including reading in bright or low light, custom font size, and the ability to store a large number of books conveniently.

Watch Movies With Subtitles

Watching movies is another fun and great way to improve your English vocabulary. 


Watching movies provides you with the opportunity to learn many words, phrases, and grammar and see how they are being used in a natural way. 

In addition, it can also help you improve your English speaking skills as well as your listening skills, which will come in handy during real-life conversations.

When watching a movie with subtitles, we are so focused on the subtitles that we end up only practicing our reading skills. 

But to improve our vocabulary as well as our overall English skills, both reading and listening skills are crucial. 

Fortunately, there’s a solution: watching movies with 2-seconds delayed subtitles should do the trick. Take a look at how this unique strategy enables you to improve both reading and listening skills.

Similar to reading books, as you come across new words while watching a movie, you can pause the movie for a bit to check its meaning. 

If you prefer not to interrupt your watching time, jot down the words in your personal vocabulary notebook for later.

Learn About Root Words

Did you know that Greek and Latin words are the foundation, or root, of many English words? In fact, more than half of the English vocabulary is derived from Latin and Greek. Broadening your understanding of these root languages enables you to learn new words and have the ability to easily decipher their meanings.  

For instance, take the words acrophobia and claustrophobia. These words share a similar root word “phobia”, which means “fear” in Latin. Both words — acrophobia and claustrophobia — are derived from the same root word. 

Acrophobia is the fear of heights, while claustrophobia is the fear of confined or crowded spaces. As you can see, learning root words will help you uncover many more words that derive from it.

You can start studying Greek and Latin root words by checking out some examples of root words. You don’t have to memorize every single root word out there, there’s a lot of them that memorizing them is nearly impossible to do. 


What you must do is familiarize yourself with the root words and their meanings. By doing that, it will be easy for you to determine the definitions of words that derive from the root words you have studied.

Practice Word Association

Word association is the act of connecting a new word with something more familiar to you so you can easily remember it. There are two ways to practice word association: based on meaning and based on sound.

When practicing word association based on meaning, you simply come up with words that are related to the word you’re trying to remember. 

For example, you have discovered that the word “scrumptious” defines an extremely tasty dish or an attractive person, depending on the context. 

With that in mind, you can think of several words related to its meaning, such as food, delicious, mouthwatering, appetizing, beautiful, handsome, good-looking, and many more. 

Having these associated words in mind when you hear the word scrumptious will help trigger your memory to remember what it means.

Word association based on sound, on the other hand, is connecting a new word with a familiar word that has a similar sound. 

For instance, take an unusual word like “aristate”, which means having a spiny or bristly tip (it’s a term most commonly used to describe leaves and grasses). 

The word “aristate” sounds like Aristotle, the name of a famous philosopher. If you envision Aristotle whenever the word “aristate” comes up, it will make it easier for you to remember its definition. 

Play Games to Expand Your Vocabulary

Memorizing new words doesn’t have to be boring. And what better way to improve your vocabulary than by playing games? 

Playing word games is effective and fun. There are several classic board games that will hone your vocabulary as well as spelling skills, such as scrabble, upwords, boggle, jenga, scattergories, taboo, apples to apples, and balderdash.

If you don’t have any of these board games, don’t worry! There are many vocabulary games you can play either by yourself or with your friends. And most of these only require a paper and a pen! Let’s check them out:

  • Word Cloud

In this game, you only need a piece of paper and a pen. Begin by writing down a random word. Don’t overthink it, just jot down the first word that comes to your mind. However, keep in mind that nouns, verbs, and adjectives work best because they have synonyms.

Once you have written it down, set your timer to 1 minute. The goal is to write as many synonyms as you can within the time limit. This game is an effective vocabulary practice that helps you remember not only the words but also their synonyms. 

  • Categories

Similar to Word Cloud, the only tools you need to play this game are pen and paper. In a piece of paper, draw four columns and write a category at the top of each column. The categories are the four major word classes: noun, verb, adjective, and adverb. 

Then write down a word for each category starting with letter A within a 30-second time limit. When the time is up, move on to letter B whether or not you have completed writing for that category. Keep moving on to the next letter until you finish the alphabet.

To make this game more challenging, you can shorten the time limit. This game is also not limited to the four word classes, you can change the categories to make it more fun, depending on your preferences. Popular categories include names, animals, food, place, cities, countries, and more. 

If you have friends who can play with you, that’s even better! Here are three games you can play with them: 

  • Pictionary 

In this game, you’ll need the original Pictionary board game. If you don’t have it, pen and paper will work as an alternative.

Divide the players into two groups. There should be at least two players in each group. But the more, the merrier! Have one player from Team A draw one card from the Pictionary set of cards. Alternatively, you can have someone that isn’t a part of the game (preferably your parent) to write different words on slips of paper for the players to choose from. 

Once the player draws a card or picks a paper, he or she must convey the word written in it to his or her team using only drawings and without speaking. The player can’t use words, symbols, or hand gestures. Each team must take turns in guessing the word. Limit the guessing time to three minutes maximum. The first team to make three correct guesses wins. 

  • Charades 

Charades is quite similar to Pictionary, but it uses actions to convey the secret word instead of drawings. Have someone who isn’t part of the game to write different words in slips of paper. In this game, verbs are likely to be the easiest to guess. You can also include some complicated words, depending on how challenging you’d like this game to be. 

Divide the players into two teams. There should be at least two players for each team. Have one player from the team who will go first choose a piece of paper and act out the word written in it. The player’s team will have to guess the correct word within the time limit. Failing to do so will give the opposing team a chance to make the guess. The team that guesses correctly gets 1 point. The two teams must take turns in having their representative do the acting, and each player in each team must experience being the representative. The team that acquires 10 points first is the winning team. 

  • Guess The Word

In order for this game to work, there should be two groups with a minimum of two players each. If there are more than four players, everyone is welcome to join as long as the two groups have an equal amount of players. The two groups must be seated at opposite sides of the room, facing each other. This game also needs one chair positioned in the middle of the two groups.

The first step is to decide which team will go first. This can be done by a toss coin or a quick rock-paper-scissors battle. The team who will go first has to choose a representative from their team who will sit in the “hot seat”, which pertains to the chair in the middle. 

Once the representative is sitting in the “hot seat”, the opposing team will write any word to a piece of paper and give it to the other team who will do the guessing. The representative doesn’t know what is written to the paper, but their team does. It is the team’s obligation to help their representative guess the secret word within a predetermined time limit. The representative will then ask questions about the secret word and throw in guesses. The catch is that their team can only answer “yes” or “no”. To be able to guess the word easily, it is recommended to ask which part of speech the word is. Is it a noun? Pronoun? Perhaps a verb? And so on..

If the representative guesses the word correctly, the team they represent gets 1 point. The team will then take turns in choosing a representative, and every player on each team must be able to experience sitting in the “hot seat”. The first team that hits 10 points is the winning team. 

Final thoughts

A great vocabulary is a powerful tool that fuels both your English speaking and writing skills. The more words you know, the more capable you are of delivering exactly what you want to say.

In this article, we've given you a lot of ideas on how to expand your vocabulary. 

And remember, learning new words doesn’t have to be boring. This article covers a lot of fun vocabulary activities that will make you enjoy what you’re doing! 

We can also help you to master the English vocabulary as soon as possible.

If you’re interested in expanding your English vocabulary even further, consider these excellent online learning resources: Kick off your journey with Babbel, offering user-friendly, engaging lessons tailored to fit seamlessly into your daily schedule. If you want something more in-depth, there's a great English course on Coursera that covers everything from the basics to more advanced topics. For a more personalized learning experience, connect with native English tutors on Preply, enhancing your speaking and comprehension skills. Take advantage of a 50% discount on your first Preply session by using this link.

How can I widen my vocabulary?

Here are 6 best ways to widen your vocabulary.
1) Keep a dictionary within easy access
2) Read everyday and turn it into a habit
3) Watch movies with subtitles
4) Learn root words
5) Play word games
6) Practice word association

Is there an app to expand my vocabulary?

There are many apps that you can use to expand your vocabulary. Try Language Drops or PowerVocab. They are quite fun and useful too.

Why is it good to expand your vocabulary?

Having a strong vocabulary is essential for every language learner. You need words to communicate. If you want to be able to express your thoughts in a good way, then you have to work on your vocabulary.

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