What about synonyms?
[ 2007-03-30 14:30 ]

Rbbyx writes:
I have found that there are many synonyms in the English vocabulary. It is a tough job to distinguish them. So what is the most efficient way to deal with those similar words?

My comments:
So you have found out, eh, that some English words have many synonyms? Great discovery!

The most efficient way, however, is perhaps to ignore the problem altogether. That is, the best way to deal with a word is to deal with a word itself - understand its meaning and proper usage - and ignore its synonyms, no matter how many of them there are in number.

Deal with each new word alone, by itself. Don't complicate the matter by worrying about its synonyms.

Synonyms, in a way, are like one's in-laws. They don't exist before you're married. So don't deal with them until you're married. This is to say, if you meet someone and are thinking matrimony, don't try to please your mother-in-law first. Please your mate first. Work on the relationship between the two of you first.

If your future mother-in-law has objections against your relationship, that's her problem, not yours. Not yet. Don't try to deal with the mother-in-law first, or else she'll make your mate look like someone you're in love against, not with.

I'm not trying to put down one's in-laws and family relationships, of course. I'm not suggesting that they aren't important. They are. What I am saying is, don't make everything tough for you before hand. Don't make it hard on yourself when you don't have to. Besides, if the two of you are close and your relationship becomes iron-clad, it will help heal your relationship with your in-laws if there are any problems in it. In other words, take care of your mate, and the in-laws will by and large take care of themselves.

There's always the other way of course, and that is to deal with the in-laws first. Quite obviously, some people suck up to their future mother-in-law to leverage the relationship with their mate. It might work. If you want to take that route, it's up to you.

By analogy, it'll be to look up a new word not in a DICTIONARY, but in a THESAURUS first.

I hope this somewhat answers your question.


About the author:

Zhang Xin is Trainer at chinadaily.com.cn. He has been with China Daily since 1988, when he graduated from Beijing Foreign Studies University. Write him at: zhangxin@chinadaily.com.cn, or raise a question for potential use in a future column.

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