Last week, I briefly touched the subject of proper word usage in the post Vocabulary Notebook: Be on the Lookout for Useful Words. Today I’d like to share three simple tips on how to maintain correct word usage.

While good writing is commonly attributed to good content, it’s equally important to understand that proper word usage is what makes the content lucid. Without clarity, good ideas easily lose their meaning when written down.

Here are three easy steps that enable you to be clear about new words. The key is to follow these steps every time you encounter an unclear word. Make it a habit.

  1. Whenever you feel unsure whether you’re using the correct word in a sentence, immediately consult a dictionary. Dictionary.com is a good free online dictionary if you’re writing in English.
  2. When you’re dealing with an unfamiliar word, it’s worth checking how the word has been used by other writers. If your dictionary doesn’t provide you with good enough examples, you should try doing a search on the word or phrase. With a longer phrase, be sure to enclose it with quotation marks. The Free Online Dictionary displays more examples for words.
  3. If the word doesn’t fit your sentence, and you don’t know what to do, you should look for synonyms in a thesaurus. For this, Thesaurus.com is a fine choice.

Now, I’d like to hear your tips on maintaining proper word usage. Please share them in the comments. Thanks!