BC: Vocabulary building

When you come across a new word, try to learn as much about it as you can:

What does it mean? What is its form? How is it used? How is it pronounced? How is it used in a sentence? Is it formal or informal? What other words is it commonly used with? What are the other members of its family?

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It is also a good habit to note down an example sentence with the word. This can help you with remembering the word better and you will see how it is used in a sentence. If you note down single words, you don’t always know what they mean. For example, the word “book” can mean “a written or printed work consisting of many pages” but it can also mean “to reserve”.

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You can use a notebook or flashcards to keep a record of words. There are many flashcard tools which allow you to practise your vocabulary online, on your smartphone or computer, for example cobocards.

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Task1

Learning word families can help you build up your knowledge of vocabulary more quickly.

Use a dictionary (online or print) and complete the table below.
Download the table in .doc format. The words are taken from the Urban Planning text. You can add more words to the list if you want.
Screenshot of word family table

Click here to see and download (PDF) completed table

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Task 2

If you look down the columns, you will recognize some kind of system. To make different words from the same root English uses prefixes and suffixes which are attached to the root of a word. Example: un-happi-ly. It is useful to learn the meaning of the most frequent ones. For example, un- means “not, the opposite of”. Now, look up some more.

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Note that sometimes a syllable looks like a prefix but it cannot be separated from the root (anymore). Example: innovation is not the opposite of novation although both have the same root.

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Task 3

Look at the prefixes and suffixes. How do they change the word? When does its meaning change? When does the word type/category change? What about the pronunciation and word stress?

Click here to see the answer.

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