Quiz: How to Improve Your Vocabulary

By: Staff

How large is the vocabulary of the average nonreader?

Reading is the ultimate vocabulary booster, and nonreaders tend to have a low vocabulary range of 10,000 to 20,000 words.

Where does the average vocabulary for frequent readers tend to top out?

People who read often have a vocabulary of 30,000 to 40,000 words — much greater than nonreaders.

Roughly how many words are in the English language today?

The English language consists of around half a million words, so even well-read people use less than 10 percent of all words, on average.

True or false: Online dictionaries are as good as hardback ones for boosting vocabulary.

While online dictionaries are great for looking up a word, a physical copy of the book encourages browsing and appeals to curiosity, which can help you learn even more.

True or false: To master a new vocabulary word, you need to be able to define, pronounce and spell it.

Mastering a new vocabulary word is a three-part process that requires being able to define, pronounce and spell the word. Without all three of these things, your knowledge is more passive than active.

True or false: New words are easier to remember if you study them in themed lists.

Don't just pick random vocabulary words to study — group them in themed lists to form powerful associations that boost memory.

What percentage of new words do people learn from reading?

For the average person, 10 to 15 percent of all new vocabulary comes from reading, making reading a powerful tool for those looking to build their word bank.

How many words can a child learn through direct learning — think memorization — each year?

Memorizing new words is great, but it adds only 400 words to an average child's vocabulary. For best results, combine direct study with indirect boosters, like reading alone or aloud.

How many words does the average English speaking adult learn each day?

The average native speaker learns just one new word each day between age 16 and 50.

True or false: The average adult has a 22,000-32,000 word vocabulary.

Vocabulary builds as you age, but the average adult knows 22,000-32,000 words.

True or false: The average person today knows more words than a person 50 years ago.

The average vocabulary is shrinking. An average 14-year-old in 1950 knew 25,000 words. Today, it's closer to 10,000.

How many words make up the average person's speech?

The average person's spoken vocabulary consists of just 5,000 words.

True or false: Most people know more written words than spoken ones.

Most people use 10,000 words in their writing and only half that many in speech.

True or false: Shakespeare's plays contained 33,000 different words.

Want to build your vocabulary? Pick up a play by Shakespeare, who used a staggering 33,000 words in his plays.

Twitter contest Artwiculate awards prizes for this.

Artwiculate lets you learn words through Twitter, then win contests for using your new vocab creatively.

True or false: Fiction reading is more closely linked to vocabulary than nonfiction reading.

Reading fiction exposes readers to a broader vocabulary than nonfiction. People who read lots of fiction tend to have a vocabulary in excess of 30,000 words.

How many words do kids know by age 4?

A typical 4-year-old knows 6,000 words.

How many new words do frequent readers pick up daily?

Frequent readers learn 4.1 new words per day, while people who rarely read learn 1.4 words per day.

What is the word gap between readers and nonreaders by age 16?

By age 16 — SAT time! — readers know 10,000 to 12,000 more words than nonreaders.

True or false: You only need a 3,000-word vocabulary to read 95 percent of popular media.

A simple 3,000-word knowledge bank allows a person to understand 95 percent of newspaper and magazine articles. This is good news for those trying to learn a new language.

True or false: One root word can spawn more than 100 individual vocabulary words.

Want to boost your brain power? Learning a single Latin or Greek root word, like "temper," can help you detect the meanings of 100 related terms (temperament, temperance, etc.).

How many root words can most kids pick up per week?

Schools that eschew memorizing lists of vocabulary in favor of teaching Latin or Greek root words generally give kids just one root word per week to maximize results.

True or false: Children from high-income homes hear 30 million more words than children of parents on welfare by age 3.

Children from low-income homes start at a significant word disadvantage, hearing an average of 30 million words fewer than their wealthier peers by age 3.

Where do toddlers pick up most of their vocabulary?

Between 86 and 98 percent of all words in a toddler's vocabulary come from Mom and Dad, which means that boosting your vocabulary will also boost your child's.

What can you find in a thesaurus?

Before you use the same old words to describe something, try looking words up in a thesaurus to discover clever new synonyms.

True or false: It takes 21 days to build a habit.

It actually takes 66 days to build a habit that sticks, so if you're trying to study your vocabulary each day, you'll have to work at it consciously for at least two months.

True or false: Writing words down will help you remember them.

Writing is linked to tactile memory and can help keep new vocabulary words on the tip of your tongue.

True or false: The SAT no longer tests knowledge of obscure words.

In spring 2016, the SAT dumped obscure vocabulary questions, much to the relief of students everywhere.

What replaced the obscure vocab on the SAT?

The vocabulary questions on the SAT now focus on high-utility word, which are terms that shift their meaning depending on the context and can be used in a variety of fields.

What percentage of English words have Latin roots?

A full 60 percent of English words — and 90 percent of scientific and technical terms — have Latin roots, so even a little Latin study can have a significant impact on your vocabulary.

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About This Quiz

Love learning lexicon, juggling jargon and topping off your terminology? Take our quiz to see what really works when it comes to boosting your vocabulary.

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