How to learn new words easily using word families

If you want to improve your English it is critical that you have a rich vocabulary. Among other skills, the ability to identify word meanings is extremely important if you want to speak fluently.

Here I am going to share five tips that will help you remember new words and their meanings easily.

Tip # 1

Identify the part of speech of the words you learn. Along with the writing or pronunciation patterns, learning the part of speech can help you remember words and create sentences more easily. The part of speech indicates how the word functions in meaning as well as grammatically within the sentence. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs are examples of parts of speech.

Tip # 2

Organize your vocabulary by word families. A word family is a group of words that have a common pattern. Words that belong to the same family have the same combination of letters or a particular sound.  They are an excellent tool to learn and remember words.

Tip # 3

Look for other words that belong to the same family. Most online dictionaries display a list with nearby words or other entries for the word. Look for those entries to find out other words that belong to the same family.

(source: McMillan Essential Dictionaries Magazine, Issue 14, December 2003)

Tip # 4

Write down in your notebook all the words that belong to the same word family. Graphic word organizers are the best. You can draw a table in your notebook or download a super cool word organizer that I have created specially for my students.

Example of word families + parts of speech

Part of the speech  families  
nounactionbeautydecisionsuccesstolerance
verbactbeautifydecidesucceedtolerate
adjectiveactivebeautifuldecisivesuccessfultolerant
adverbactivelybeautifullydecisivelysuccessfullytolerably

Tip # 5

Write your own examples using each of the words that you add to your notebook or word organizer. It is crucial that you understand the meaning and how to use each word that you learn.

It seems like a lot of work. However, in the long run it will pay off; specially if you are planning to take the IELTS, TOEFL, CELPIP or any Cambridge test.

Challenge

Let’s practice. Complete the sentences below using the correct word from the table above.

  1. “_____________ is in the eye of the beholder” ~Shakespeare (hint: noun)
  2. Although Maria has been looking for a new job _________, she hasn’t ___________ yet.  (hint: adverb, verb)
  3. John is a very ___________ person. He exercises every day. (hint: adjective)
  4. What’s you final _____________? Are you going to buy the detached house in the suburbs or the condo downtown? (hint: noun)
  5. I’m not going to _______________ such disrespectful behavior! (hint: verb)

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