English has an ability to express an idea or concept with the finest details possible.
This can be done using synonyms.
A synonym is a word with the same, or almost the same, meaning as another word.
For example, you could say, “Janet wears a blue hat and a red dress.”
You could also say, “Janet sports a navy cloche and a burgundy gown.”
Let’s explain the second sentence:
“Sport” means “to wear in a proud way.”
It is a synonym of “wear.”
“Navy” means “very dark blue.”
It is a synonym of “blue.”
“Cloche” means “a woman’s hat that is shaped like a bell and fits close to the head.”
It is a synonym of “hat.”
“Burgundy” means “dark red,” like the Burgundy wine.
(That’s wine from an area in eastern France called Burgundy.)
It is a synonym of “red.”
“Gown” means “a long woman’s dress, worn in special occasions.”
It is a synonym of “dress.”
If we didn’t have the above words in the English vocabulary, we would probably say something like this:
“Janet proudly wears a very dark blue hat. Her hat is shaped like a bell and fits close to the head. She also wears a dark red long formal dress.”
This is longer and slightly less accurate. (Though definitely clearer if you are unfamiliar with the above words!)
- Now reread the first and second sentences.
- After reviewing each, Imagine Janet’s appearance.
She looks quite different, doesn’t she? :-)
This is only one way of using synonyms.
Understanding synonyms (and their opposite – the antonyms) is important to truly mastering the English language with all its “colors” (= aspects).
1) So what are synonyms and antonyms?
2) Pretty, beautiful, handsome… what’s the difference?
3) Why are synonyms and antonyms important?
4) How to use them to improve vocabulary?
5) How to use them to improve writing skills?