Using New Vocabulary In Sentences

2 December 2010

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  Image by greeblie

 

Word count:  395

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 

When you learn new words, it’s always best if you also learn how to use them correctly in sentences. This makes the words easier to remember and use in your everyday life.

 

Learn the correct grammar

To help you with this, I’ll give you another tip that Professor James Venema recommends for his students when they’re learning new vocabulary. It involves a close look at the structure of sample sentences in dictionaries.

 

I’ll illustrate the process with an example.

 

Example

Let’s say that you’ve discovered that the noun premonition would be useful to learn.

 

The Cambridge Dictionary Online defines premonition as “a feeling that something, especially something unpleasant, is going to happen”.

 

Here are sample sentences listed at the same site:

He had a premonition that his plane would crash, so he took the train.

I had a sudden premonition of what the future might bring.

 

How to examine basic sentence structures

Begin by looking at the basic subject+verb+object structure of the sample sentences.

 

In those above, you’ll notice that the verb used with premonition is had. Both of these sentences use simple past tense, but you could also use simple present tense. ‘He has a premonition that his plane will crash, so he will take the train.’ ‘I have a sudden premonition of what the future might bring.’

 

Remember to pay attention to the word type. Premonition is a singular countable noun, so you must use the article ‘a’ with it. If you’re learning a verb, check out the other forms: present, present participle, past and past participle. And if you’re learning an adjective or adverb, be sure to notice which words collocate with them properly – that is, which words they’re frequently used together with.

 

Let’s look closer at each of the sample sentences above.

 

1.  He had a premonition that his plane would crash, …

 

In this sentence, premonition is followed by a clause beginning with that – ‘…that his plane would crash’.

 

Structure: Subject + have/has/had + a premonition + [that] clause

 

2.  She had a sudden premonition of what the future might bring.

 

In this sentence, premonition is followed by a prepositional phrase that starts with of.

 

Structure: Subject + have/has/had + a premonition + of + noun/noun phrase

 

Time to practise

After you’ve examined the structures of sample sentences from a dictionary, use those same structures to practise writing your own sentences.

 

There may be other sentence structures than those in the dictionary, but they are a very good start to help you learn the correct grammar.

 

Thanks to Professor Venema for these useful tips! 

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