Elevating your Professional Adjectives
Once you’re proficient at communicating in English, it can be very easy to stay in your comfort zone and use the same descriptive words. After all, everybody is sure to understand you, and that’s a great feeling!
However, staying in your comfort zone and using the same adjectives over and over again prevents you from taking your English to the next level. Many English language learners fall into the pattern of repetitively using adjectives like: good, bad, fine, and interesting.
This isn’t a serious problem, but your listener will be impressed, and your message will be more powerful and specific if you use more advanced and varied adjectives.
How to Build Your Adjective Vocabulary
1. Use an online thesaurus when you want to find synonyms for commonly used adjectives. I even used the thesaurus while writing this blog post! For example, if you search for interesting, you’ll find excellent synonyms like fascinating, impressive, and compelling that you can try to use instead.
Of course, not every synonym is going to be correct in the context of your sentence. If you’re unsure of the definition, use an English dictionary or an online translator to confirm that you’re using your new vocabulary word correctly!
2. Think critically about which adjectives you use most when you speak. Which adjectives are you using repetitively?
Pick an adjective, and try counting how many times you use that adjective during a conversation. For example, if you use the word fine five times in a short conversation, it’s probably time to mix things up and learn some synonyms!
Take this exercise one step further, and try eliminating one of your most repetitive adjectives from your vocabulary for a whole day. This will force you to actively and intentionally use new words.
3. As always, reading articles and books, listening to podcasts, and having English conversations are great ways to build vocabulary. Be an active reader and listener!
When you’re reading an article, circle all of the adjectives you find. When you’re listening to a podcast or having a conversation, make note of new adjectives as well.
Start to make a list of new adjectives AND their definitions. Or better yet, make digital flashcards. Each week, try using three words from your list in your regular spoken language.
The chart below shows how easy it can be to elevate your sentences by simply changing an adjective.
Basic - My boss is good. He always plans ahead.
Advanced - My boss is strategic. He always plans ahead.
Other Adjectives - Strategic, careful, intentional, thoughtful
Basic - I think this topic is very interesting.
Advanced - I think this topic is very thought-provoking.
Other Adjectives - Thought-provoking, fascinating, compelling, intriguing
Basic - When there’s a lot of work to do in a short time, it’s important to be fast.
Advanced - When there’s a lot of work to do in a short time, it’s important to be efficient.
Other Adjectives - Efficient, resourceful, expedient
Basic - My coworker is nice.
Advanced - My coworker is friendly.
Other Adjectives - Friendly, cheerful, kind, thoughtful, empathetic
Basic - There are many problems with the current project. It’s very bad.
Advanced - There are many problems with the current project. It’s very challenging.
Other Adjectives - Challenging, difficult, stressful, overwhelming
Basic - Working with people is fun.
Advanced - Working with people is rewarding.
Other Adjectives - Rewarding, meaningful, enjoyable
Basic - This is a very hard problem to solve.
Advanced - This is a very complex problem to solve.
Other Adjectives - Complex, complicated, difficult, challenging
Basic - We had a fine meeting.
Advanced - We had a productive meeting.
Other Adjectives - Productive, useful, effective, constructiv
Basic - This is a necessary part of the process.
Advanced - This a critical part of the process.
Other Adjectives - Critical, integral, imperative, required, vital
Basic - I am a hard worker.
Advanced - I am a persistent worker.
Other Adjectives - Persistent, motivated, dedicated, committed
Written by Mariah Wika