One Key to Good Writing: A Dictionary
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One Key to Good Writing: A Dictionary

A good, current dictionary will help you with pronunciation, spelling, word usage, idioms , archaic words, word etiology, synonyms, and antonyms. Buy a new one every five years or so to make sure you keep up on the changes in the language. Spelling and even usage changes because language is always in flux.

If you want to be a good writer, begin with a good dictionary.  If you are not English speaking by birth, learning the language is difficult, especially if you want to write. Words and idioms often carry subtle meaning beyond the casual use.One more thing I should mention here:  I am really not speaking about English so much as American.  Even if your family and your education were American and you learned English in school, there are still words and grammar constructions you may have missed.  A good dictionary can help you with all these issues.

I am currently using the Webster's New World Collegiate Dictionary, Fourth Edition.  It is a good idea to buy a new dictionary periodically because the language changes and new words are included.  Spelling evolves too.  I recently became aware of a change in spelling of the word "aging."  Sometimes it is spelled "ageing."   My dictionary lists both as acceptable. 

The dictionary contains a pronunciation guide.  Refer to it if you don't want to feel foolish in front to strangers.  But don't feel badly when you hear people pronounce words in a way you thought was wrong.  When I was in college, I found that various professors pronounced words differently.  In one class the professor said "asce-TYL-cho-line, and in another, the professor said A-CE-tyl-choline.  I learned to go with the flow.The word is the name of a neurotransmitter that doesn't come up much in social situations. 

The dictionary will give you the part of speech and how to use it for any word.  If you are unsure, look it up. I had an English teacher that impressed on me the proper use of past tense verbs, the comma rules, gerunds, participles, nouns, etc.  If you didn't, the dictionary will help you catch up.

The dictionary will also help you find synonyms to bring freshness and variety to your writing.  You may find synonyms that are more precise and revealing than your original word.  It will pay you to do the research.

I know this sounds very picky and tedious.  It is important only if you want to be a really good writer.  I recognize that even good writers use bad grammar sometimes, but their poor usage should never be because they don't know the right way, but because it an important part of their story.  If you are writing about truck drivers, you should use trudk driver slang and parlance, but you don't have to be a truck driver to do that.

Get a good dictionary or use the internet or go to the library, and write on.

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Comments (1)

Thank you dear Gayle. I voted for your another article. There I could not write comment. Thank you. Hoping for your friendship and support.