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10.5: Synonyms and Antonyms

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    12103
  • As you work with your draft, you will want to pay particular attention to the words you have chosen. Do they express exactly what you are trying to convey? Can you choose better, more effective words? Familiarity with synonyms and antonyms can be helpful in answering these questions.

    Synonyms

    Synonyms are words that have the same, or almost the same, meaning as another word. You can say an “easy task” or a “simple task” becauseeasyandsimpleare synonyms. You can say Hong Kong is a “large city” or a “metropolis” becausecityandmetropolisare synonyms.

    However, it is important to remember that not all pairs of words in the English language are so easily interchangeable. The slight but important differences in meaning between synonyms can make a big difference in your writing. For example, the wordsboringandinsipidmay have similar meanings, but the subtle differences between the two will affect the message your writing conveys. The wordinsipidevokes a scholarly and perhaps more pretentious message thanboring.

    The English language is full of pairs of words that have subtle distinctions between them. All writers, professionals and beginners alike, face the challenge of choosing the most appropriate synonym to best convey their ideas. When you pay particular attention to synonyms in your writing, it comes across to your reader. The sentences become much more clear and rich in meaning.

    Writing at Work

    Any writing you do at work involves a careful choice of words. For example, if you are writing an e-mail to your employer regarding your earnings, you can use the wordpay,salary, or hourlywage. There are also other synonyms to choose from. Just keep in mind that the word you choose will have an effect on the reader, so you want to choose wisely to get the desired effect.

    Exercise 13

    Replace the underlined words in the paragraph with appropriate synonyms. Write the new paragraph on your own sheet of paper.

    When most people think of the Renaissance, they might think of artists like Michelangelo, Raphael, or Leonardo da Vinci, but they often overlook one of thevery importantfigures of the Renaissance: Filippo Brunelleschi. Brunelleschi was born in Florence, Italy in 1377. He is considered thevery bestarchitect and engineer of the Renaissance. Hisimpressiveaccomplishments are atestamentto following one’s dreams, persevering in the face of obstacles, and realizing one’s vision.

    Themost difficultundertaking of Brunelleschi’s career was the dome of Florence Cathedral, which took sixteen years to construct. Amajor blowto the progress of the construction happened in 1428. Brunelleschi had designed a special ship to carry the one hundred tons of marble needed for the dome. He felt this would be themost inexpensiveway to transport the marble, but the unthinkable happened. The ship went down to the bottom of the water, taking all the marble with it to the bottom of the river. Brunelleschi wasreally sad. Nevertheless, he did notgive up. He held true to his vision of the completed dome. Filippo Brunelleschi completed construction of the dome of Florence Cathedral in 1446. His influence on artists and architects alike wasfelt stronglyduring his lifetime and can still befeltin this day and age.

    Collaboration

    Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

    Exercise 14

    On your own sheet of paper, write a sentence with each of the following words that illustrates the specific meaning of each synonym.

    1. leave, abandon

    2. mad, insane

    3. outside, exterior

    4. poor, destitute

    5. quiet, peaceful

    6. riot, revolt

    7. rude, impolite

    8. talk, conversation

    9. hug, embrace

    10. home, residence

    Collaboration

    Please share with a classmate and compare your answers.

    Antonyms

    Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of a given word. The study of antonyms will not only help you choose the most appropriate word as you write; it will also sharpen your overall sense of language. The table below lists common words and their antonyms.

    Figure 0.5 ” Common Antonyms “

    Word

    Antonym

    Word

    Antonym

    absence

    presence

    frequent

    seldom

    accept

    refuse

    harmful

    harmless

    accurate

    inaccurate

    horizontal

    vertical

    advantage

    disadvantage

    imitation

    genuine

    ancient

    modern

    inhabited

    uninhabited

    abundant

    scarce

    inferior

    superior

    artificial

    natural

    intentional

    accidental

    attractive

    repulsive

    justice

    injustice

    borrow

    lend

    knowledge

    ignorance

    bravery

    cowardice

    landlord

    tenant

    create

    destroy, demolish

    likely

    unlikely

    bold

    timid, meek

    minority

    majority

    capable

    incapable

    miser

    spendthrift

    combine

    separate

    obedient

    disobedient

    conceal

    reveal

    optimist

    pessimist

    common

    rare

    permanent

    temporary

    decrease

    increase

    plentiful

    scarce

    definite

    indefinite

    private

    public

    despair

    hope

    prudent

    imprudent

    discourage

    encourage

    qualified

    unqualified

    employer

    employee

    satisfactory

    unsatisfactory

    expand

    contract

    tame

    wild

    forget

    remember

    vacant

    occupied

    Tip

    Learning antonyms is an effective way to increase your vocabulary. Memorizing words in combination with or in relation to other words often helps us retain them.

    Exercise 15

    Correct the following sentences by replacing the underlined words with an antonym. Write the antonym on your own sheet of paper.

    1. The pilot who landed the plane was acowardbecause no one was injured.

    2. Even though the botany lecture was two hours long, Gerard found it incrediblydull.

    3. My mother says it isimpoliteto say thank you like you really mean it.

    4. Although I have learned a lot of information through textbooks, it is life experience that has given meignorance.

    5. When our instructor said the final paper wascompulsory, it was music to my ears!

    6. My onlyvirtuesare coffee, video games, and really loud music.

    7. Elvin was soboldwhen he walked in the classroom that he sat in the back row and did not participate.

    8. Maria thinks elephants who live infreedomhave a sad look in their eyes.

    9. The teacher filled her students’ minds withgloomythoughts about their futures.

    10. Theguestattended to every one of our needs.

    Key Takeaways

    • Synonyms are words that have the same, or almost the same, meaning as another word.
    • Antonyms are words that have the opposite meaning of another word.
    • Choosing the right synonym refines your writing.
    • Learning common antonyms sharpens your sense of language and expands your vocabulary.

    Writing Application

    Write a paragraph that describes your favorite dish or food. Use as many synonyms as you can in the description, even if it seems too many. Be creative. Consult a thesaurus, and take this opportunity to use words you have never used before. Be prepared to share your paragraph.

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