"The difference between the right word and the almost right word is the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."—Mark Twain
Word up. That is to say, today's task is to begin a practice of improving your vocabulary. Start by learning five words you're unfamiliar with.
Now to be clear, the point of doing this isn't so you can show off a bunch of long, fancy words in conversation. Seriously—nobody likes an excessively loquacious sesquipedalian.
Studying words and their meanings has a host of benefits. It makes writing easier, reading more fun, and trains your brain so you're able to communicate more clearly and precisely when speaking.
Advancing your vocabulary is an ongoing process, but you can start making improvements right away. Here are a few easy and fun ways to test your knowledge of the English language and learn some new words.
Vocabulary.com quizzes your knowledge of words using a database of more than 40,000 questions. You can play without an account, but if you sign up for a free membership, the site tracks the words you have trouble with and adapts its questions to help you focus on areas where you can improve. It's also got a nifty dictionary that is faster and less weighed down by ads than many of the others available online.
A.Word.A.Day is one of the best free vocabulary email services out there. Subscribe and each day in your inbox you'll find a new word with its definition, a usage example, and an audio clip to help you with pronunciation.
IntelliVocab is a free mobile app developed by students at MIT. It uses the principles behind machine learning—the more you practice with it, the more personalized your quizzes become. It's available for both iPhone/iPad and Android users.