Expanding Your Vocabulary

At some point in elementary, middle or high school, you probably took a vocabulary test. If you were anything like me, you probably just memorized the words for the test, and forgot about most of the words afterward. Vocabulary in public relations, as in many other fields, is extremely important. Writing is often thought of as the foundation of public relations. Without a strong vocabulary, strong writing is hard to attain. If you want to have a stronger vocabulary, here are five tips you can try:

1. Read.

Teachers have probably told you over and over again to read more. Reading really does improve your vocabulary, as it exposes you to new words and new ways to use words that you already know. The more you are exposed to writing, the better writer you will become. An important tip to keep in mind is to read a variety of topics. Reading books, magazines, newspapers and other materials you normally wouldn’t read will expose you to all different styles of writing, which will expose you to new words.

2. Look up words you don’t know.

As you’re reading, you will come across words that you aren’t familiar with. When you see these, look them up. The first part of learning a new word is to understand what it means. After looking it up, try to use it in a conversation or in something that you are writing. After some repetition, these words will stick in your memory.

3. Learn a new word every day.

There are multiple ways to do this. You can buy a word-of-the-day calendar to give you a new word to incorporate into your vocabulary. If you don’t want to purchase something, there are several websites that feature a new word every day. If you focus on trying to use this new word at least once during your day, it will start to stick. You can even develop your own list of words you want to learn, that can contain synonyms or antonyms to words that you already know. Some online dictionaries offer “word of the day” emails as well.

4. Vocabulary Games.

There are several websites that feature games that will help expand your vocabulary. Using a game is a different way of learning, but depending on how you learn, it could be a good option for you. Websites like vocabulary.com allow you to play games with new vocabulary. Freerice.com challenges you to learn new words, as every question you answer correctly, 10 grains of rice are donated in an effort to end world hunger. 10 grains of rice may not seem like a lot, but the more words you learn, the more rice you are able to donate.

5. Learn the roots.

Many English words are Latin and Greek based. If you take the time to learn both Greek and Latin roots, prefixes and suffixes, it may help you decipher the meaning of words that you are unsure of. With that being said, learning and understanding parts of the Greek and Latin languages is not easy. If you have a curiosity for how words are formed, and the history behind them, this might be the option that would work best for you.


Gabrielle Coy is a sophomore public relations major at Waynesburg University. She serves as the social media coordinator for Waynesburg PRSSA, as well as a project manager for Red Brick Communications. After graduation, Gabrielle hopes to pursue her passions within the public relations field and work within the nonprofit or crisis communication sector.

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