What are synonyms?
Synonyms are words that have a meaning very close to another word. Here are some easy examples:
Can you think of a synonym for these words:
How do we use Synonyms?
A good rule to remember when speaking English is that we don’t want to use the same word over and over in our sentences. Being repetitive when we are talking makes it difficult for the listener to keep interested in what we are trying to tell them.
Synonyms give our speech color like a painting. What looks nicer? A picture painted in just one color or a picture painted in many different colors?
Using words that are synonyms is like painting with different colors and will help you sound like a native speaker.
Is it important to use Synonyms?
However, using the wrong synonym can change the meaning of our sentences. Earlier we asked you to think of a synonym for the word, “correct.”
If one of your answers was, ‘right,’ you have understood what synonyms are very well.
But, the word “right’ has another meaning, remember it is a direction, the opposite of “left.”
Let’s see how the meaning changes in the following sentence if we use the word right instead of correct.
- His answer was the correct one.
This sentence is clear and tells us that the person got the exact answer.
- His answer was the right one.
This sentence also shows us that the individual got the correct answer. But, we could also say that the individual (person) chose the answer that was on the right side of the test.
Complete sentences help us understand the correct meaning, but in some sentences, if we use the incorrect synonym we could change the meaning we are trying to communicate.
If this happens to you, try to understand why the synonym you used led to the misunderstanding and which word was the correct/right one.
Overall synonyms are an essential part of English, and we encourage you to learn them.
I encourage all of my students who are trying to increase their vocabulary, to learn synonyms of words they already know. It is much easier for you to remember new vocabulary that way.
Remember, the benefits that come from using synonyms are:
- Increased vocabulary
- More colorful, interesting speech
- More fluent English like a native English speaker
Did this article help you to understand what a synonym is and how to use it? Please tell us. Leave your comment below. Remember to check out our other great articles on the website too.
What is a Synonym?
Simply put, a synonym is the grammatical English term for a word that has a similar meaning to another word.
As an example, here are some synonyms for the word, think.
- Meditate, ponder, reason, contemplate, reflect, deliberate.
But does that mean synonyms mean the same thing and every kind of synonym are interchangeable with one another? No.
Let’s ponder synonyms!
While these words may have similar meanings, remember they are different words with subtle differences otherwise there would be no need for them!
Let’s use our word, think, to help us understand this detail.
Think, is perhaps the most commonly used word to describe our thinking ability. However, it’s synonyms can add further details and depth of meaning to a sentence, some synonyms are more similar than others.
Also, notice how the use of a synonym can modify the sentence structure also. We will use a scale to show the intensity of the synonyms meaning, one being the simplest and five the most meaningful.
1. Let me think about it.
This general statement is frequently used as a way of avoiding an immediate yes or no answer to a proposition. It implies the person wants to have some time to think about it a little more before deciding.
2. Let me reflect on it.
Reflecting on a matter is similar to pondering about it. This synonym would be more commonly used when thinking about a past or present issue.
3. Let me deliberate it.
While less familiar, it is similar to ponder or reflect. A jury would deliberate its decision for example during a trial.
4. Let me reason it out.
To reason, is to think about a matter logically and understand it, thus coming to a conclusion.
5. Let me meditate on it.
Religious persons more commonly use the word meditation. To meditate on a thing means to think very deeply about every aspect of the matter, how it affects you, how it affects others, what are the benefits, what are the dangers, how can it be applied personally and so on.
Why is it important?
In casual conversation, synonyms add variety to our speech, however, for our work or more pressing matters, the use of an incorrect synonym can imply the wrong details. Here is a simple example.
- This piece of meat is tough and chewy. (Correct.)
- This piece of meat is strong and chewy. (Incorrect.)
Tough and strong are synonyms but have unique qualities which can mean different things. A piece of meat is not strong, but it can be tough and hard to chew.
- He is a violent man. (Correct.)
- He is a turbulent man. (Incorrect, it does not convey a clear idea.)
A man can be violent, but turbulent is not a word typically applied to a person.
However, in this case, both words can be used in the same sentence.
- The flight was quite violent.
- The flight was quite turbulent.
So, although violent and turbulent are synonyms, they are an example that you cannot always swap synonyms for any single one.
How to use Synonyms?
Certain sentences may mean repeating the same word; we try to avoid doing this in English, that’s where synonyms help us. Our sentence below is an example of this.
The key to knowing which synonym to use is (knowing) understanding the minor differences between them. For English students, practice along with a little trial and error will help you do this!