Vocabulary

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Theory
  • ·We have been asked this question by a lot of students - how do I build my vocabulary? The honest answer is that there is no easy way. You can memorize a thousand flash cards without it making any material impact on your vocabulary. To have a good vocabulary you need to be introduced to words in a context. The more vivid the context the more likely it is that you will remember the word. Hence, adjectives should remind you of a person, nouns of real life examples etc. The best way to do this would be through books. Reading good quality books will have the natural side effect of improving your vocabulary.
  • However, this may not be a good preparation plan for PO exams if the exam is two months away. In that case, try to solve as many vocabulary related questions as you can. Questions, especially incorrectly solved ones, have higher recall value as compared to ordinary vocabulary building methods like flash cards.
Tip
  • If a vocabulary question is asked in a passage, then even if you do not know the meaning of the word, you can still answer the question by understanding the context of the passage. Also, in this type of questions, the words are often meant in a different way than their actual usage in general language. So, always try to understand the meaning of the context in which the word is used.
  • Vocabulary is often important in fill in the blanks’ questions as well. Keep an eye out for the words such as however, but, although, which change the flow of the sentence and hence the word that comes in the blank here must be in sync with the meaning of the sentence.
Solved Example

Question) Though one eye is kept firmly on the _______, the company now also promotes _______ contemporary art.

a) present, experimental 
b) future, popular 
c) present, popular 
d) market, popular

Solution) The word ‘though’ in the first clause shows a change in the flow of the sentence. Therefore, the word ‘now’ in the second clause must be in contrast with the word in our first blank. ‘Future’ is the only word that is in contrast with ‘now’. Therefore, future and popular are the words to be used in the two blanks. Hence, it is important to know the meaning of the sentence while solving vocabulary questions.

Solved Example

Question) The manners and _______ of the nouveau riche is a recurrent ______ in literature.

a) style, motif 
b) morals, story 
c) wealth, theme 
d) morals, theme

Solution) Here, the conjunction ‘and’ tells us that the word ‘manners’ and the word in the blank must be in sync. ‘Morals’ is the only word that is sync with ‘manners’. Between the words ‘story’ and ‘theme’, ‘theme’ is more relevant because story is not recurrent in literature but the theme can be recurrent. Hence, ‘morals’ and ‘theme’ are the words to be used in the blanks.

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