Why is Vocabulary Important?  (And How to Use it to Become Fluent)

Why is vocabulary important?

When learning the English language, vocabulary is incredibly important, for several reasons:

  • Communication: Vocabulary is essential for effective communication with other people. Without a sufficient vocabulary, it can be challenging to convey your thoughts, ideas, and emotions accurately. Learning new words can expand the range of expressions that learners have at their disposal and enable them to communicate more precisely and effectively.
  • Academic success: In many academic disciplines, a specialized vocabulary is necessary to understand the material. Students who lack the necessary vocabulary may struggle to comprehend the readings and lectures, leading to poor academic performance. By learning academic vocabulary, learners can better understand and engage with the material, earning higher grades, and achieving success in their chosen field.
  • Comprehension: A robust vocabulary is essential for understanding what others are saying. When learners encounter unfamiliar words, they may struggle to understand the message being conveyed.  This can lead to miscommunication and confusion. By learning new vocabulary words, learners can better understand what they read, hear, and watch, and this can help them to engage more fully with the world around them.
  • Career advancement: English vocabulary is essential for career advancement. In many jobs, specialized vocabulary is used, and knowing this vocabulary can give learners a competitive edge. For example, a doctor who is proficient in medical terminology may be better able to communicate with other medical professionals and patients, leading to better patient outcomes.
  • Cognitive development: Vocabulary development is also linked to cognitive growth, in other words, training your brain to think better. Research has shown that vocabulary size is strongly correlated with cognitive ability. By expanding their vocabulary, learners can enhance their cognitive abilities.  This includes memory, problem-solving, and critical thinking skills.

Why is vocabulary important for fluency?

Vocabulary is an essential component of fluency in any language. Fluency is the ability to speak a language quickly and smoothly, without hesitation or pauses, and with a natural-sounding rhythm and intonation. Here are some reasons why vocabulary is important for fluency:

  • Natural-sounding language: A broad vocabulary allows learners to use a variety of words and expressions in their speech, making their language sound more natural and authentic. This is especially important in conversations, where the use of repetitive or simplistic language can make the speaker sound hesitant or unsure.
  • Word retrieval speed: One of the main obstacles to fluency is hesitation caused by slow word retrieval. When learners lack the necessary vocabulary, they may struggle to find the right words to express their thoughts quickly and accurately. A wide-ranging and varied vocabulary allows learners to retrieve words quickly and easily.  This helps them to speak more fluently.
  • Contextual understanding: A strong vocabulary also enables learners to understand the context in which words are used. Understanding the nuances of words and their meanings in different contexts can help learners to use words more effectively and appropriately in their speech.
  • Improved comprehension: Vocabulary is not just important for speaking fluently, but also for listening and comprehension. When learners have a good vocabulary, they are better able to understand what they hear.  This will often lead to improved fluency in their own speaking as they are able to respond more quickly and naturally to what they hear.
  • Idiomatic expressions: Fluency in a language also involves the ability to use idioms correctly. An idiom is an expression that means something other than the literal meaning of the words.  These expressions are an important part of the language, and often cannot be translated directly into another language.  Learning more vocabulary words enables learners to understand and use idiomatic expressions in their correct context, which can help them to sound more fluent and natural when speaking.

Why is vocabulary more important than grammar?

  • Strong Foundation: Vocabulary is the building block of any language. Without a strong grasp of vocabulary, learners will struggle to communicate effectively in the target language. Grammar rules and syntax can only take you so far, but it is vocabulary that allows learners to express themselves with precision and nuance. For example, while knowing the basic grammar rules can help learners string together sentences, it is the knowledge of vocabulary that allows them to express their thoughts, ideas, and emotions accurately.
  • Understanding Nuance: A wide-ranging vocabulary enables learners to understand the nuances of the target language. Language is not just about conveying information; it is also about understanding cultural contexts, social norms, and the subtleties of human interaction. When learners can grasp the meaning of unfamiliar words, idioms, and expressions, they are better equipped to understand the cultural nuances of the language. In turn, this can help them build stronger relationships with native speakers, understand the media in the target language, and appreciate the art, literature, and culture of the target language.
  • Better Comprehension: Finally, comprehension is the most important part of reading or listening, and having a large vocabulary is what allows learners to successfully comprehend the English language.  Learners can’t understand what they hear or read if they don’t know the words that are being used.

What are the benefits of learning a new word every day?

Learning a new word every day can have many great benefits for English language learners, or any other language. Here are some of the top 5 advantages:

  • Vocabulary growth: When you learn a new word every day, you can expand your vocabulary quickly and steadily. Over time, this can lead to a significant increase in word knowledge, which can improve your communication skills and overall language proficiency.
  • Retention and reinforcement: The daily training on a new vocabulary word can help learners to retain and reinforce their existing vocabulary. When you see that new word in the context of the words you’ve already learned, it will reinforce the meaning and add more context to your education.
  • Enriched language usage: A diverse and extensive vocabulary can help learners to express themselves more clearly and effectively. Learning a new word every day can help learners to discover new ways to express themselves and to use language more creatively.
  • Cultural and social understanding: Language is closely linked to culture and society. Seeing a new topic each day helps learners to gain insight into the cultural and social contexts in which the language is used. This allows learners to better understand and appreciate the language and the people who speak it.
  • Motivation and engagement: Staying motivated is one of the most important, and most difficult, goals when learning a language. Having that sense of accomplishment from learning a new word every day can be a fun and engaging way to stay motivated with a language. By setting a daily goal and tracking their progress, learners can feel a sense of achievement, which can help to maintain their interest and enthusiasm for language learning.

Does learning vocabulary get easier?

The short answer is Yes! Learning vocabulary absolutely does become easier over time with consistent practice and exposure. Here are some reasons why:

  • Increased familiarity: As learners encounter words more frequently, they become more familiar with them and can recognize them more easily. This recognition can help language learners to remember the meaning and usage of the words, making them easier to learn and use in the future.
  • Contextual learning: Studying new words in context makes it easier to remember them. When learners encounter new words in context, they can see how the words are used and understand their meanings more easily. Over time, this helps learners to develop a deeper understanding of the words and retain them more effectively.
  • Learning strategies: As learners become more experienced, they develop more effective learning strategies for memorizing new vocabulary. For example, they often start to use mnemonic devices or visualization techniques to help them remember new words.  The key is that they’re learning the process of learning.  And this can rapidly increase the speed at which they learn a language.
  • Prior knowledge: As learners build up their vocabulary, they also acquire more prior knowledge that can help them to learn new words more easily. For example, if a learner already knows the meaning of the word “dictionary”, they may find it easier to learn the meaning of the word “thesaurus” because they are related in meaning.
  • Interest and motivation: If learners have a strong interest or motivation to learn a language, they may find it easier to learn new vocabulary. Success breeds success, and having those small initial wins from learning new things gives learners the motivation to continue on.  When learners are motivated, they are more likely to engage with the language and seek out new words and phrases.


To put it all together, learning vocabulary is an essential component of language learning. It plays a crucial role in effective communication, fluency, comprehension, understanding context, and practical use in everyday situations. While grammar is important, vocabulary is often considered more essential for language learning as it allows learners to convey their thoughts and ideas more clearly and naturally. Moreover, the benefits of learning vocabulary go beyond language learning and extend to cultural and social understanding as well. With consistent practice and exposure, learners can expand their vocabulary, reinforce existing knowledge, enrich language usage, and increase motivation and engagement. Incorporating daily vocabulary practice into language learning can be a simple yet effective way to improve language skills over time. By developing a rich and diverse vocabulary, learners can communicate more effectively and confidently in the target language.

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