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Steps to Success » Grammar

Expanding Vocabulary through Parts of Speech

Most Hong Kong primary schools teach vocabulary from readers or textbooks, and this means students may know many words in specific areas (e.g. sports or household items) but be missing lots of common words. Many students struggle with reading because they haven’t acquired enough vocabulary items to comprehend a whole text.

It is only when they’re asked to cram vocabulary lists in secondary school that they realise the importance of parts of speech. Prior to that, students are not taught the different forms of words they know. For example, they may know the adjective ‘proud’ but not the noun ‘pride’. By learning different forms of words, they drastically expand their vocabulary and make reading a much easier task.

This important tool doesn’t need to wait until secondary school – it’s something that students of all ages can use. Here are two ways to expand vocabulary through parts of speech:

  1. Use search engines

When you come across an unfamiliar word, not only can you look it up online, but also search its other forms. It can be as easy as typing ‘satisfy noun form’ and you’ll see ‘satisfaction’. Some dictionary websites even list the word family, which contains all available parts of speech of the word you search.

  1. Make sentences using new vocabulary

After you learn new forms of an already-known word, try to rewrite sentences to switch from the original form to the new one, e.g. change ‘I was very proud of my brother’s efforts’ to ‘My brother’s efforts filled me with pride’. This way, you can make sure the new vocabulary items can be used practically and aren’t just something that rings a bell.