Chapter 12-1-3: Synonyms

Not All Words Are Alike

It's not because a corresponding word exists in a thesaurus that it can automatically be used.

Synonyms are words that share meaning with other words. Their meanings may be exactly the same or only similar. Using synonyms can help build vocabulary and avoid repetition from using the same word too many times.

Synonyms can show well-developed language skills because the user knows more than one way of expressing themselves. However, we should be careful with choosing the correct synonyms to use in the right place. Sometimes their differences can cause misunderstandings or not make any sense at all. Sometimes it is also necessary to change other parts of the sentence in order to use the synonym correctly. The next examples show how synonyms may be similar but not the same.

Synonyms for like (related to preference): enjoy, appreciate, admire

I like this food you prepared.

I enjoy eating this food you prepared.

I appreciate this food you prepared. You worked hard and I am grateful.

I admire your talent in preparing food.

Notice that the synonyms can be used in a similar situation. Sometimes they have a slightly different focus (such as a focus on the food or the hard work of cooking). Sometimes the sentence needs to be changed in other ways in order to use the synonym correctly.

Now, let’s see these synonyms used to talk about an activity.

I like skiing.

I enjoy skiing.

The next examples seem strange or do not make sense in English.

Incorrect: I appreciate skiing.

Incorrect: I admire skiing.

We would use these synonyms in different contexts.

Correct: I appreciate the colours in this painting. They are expertly


Correct: I admire people who work hard and achieve their dreams.

Synonyms for angry: annoyed, enraged, wrathful

Note that enraged means very angry and is often used in relation to a specific event.

George is angry about what Peter said.

George was enraged by what Peter said.

Note that wrathful is a literary synonym. It can be about a personality trait or used in relation to a specific event.

Incorrect: George is wrathful today.

Correct: The king was wrathful and ordered the traitors be put to death.

TIP: After seeing that words are related in a thesaurus, go back to a dictionary to check their specific meanings. This can help to judge if they are appropriate for the context in question.

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