11 Dec 2016

Synonyms & Antonyms

One of the most confusing, not to mention frustrating things about learning English is the multitude of ways things can be said using different words.

In a previous article, we covered homonyms – words that sound the same but have different meanings. Think of ‘their’ and ‘there,’ for example.

In this article, we’ll be talking about Synonyms and Antonyms.

Synonyms are words that have (more or less) the same meaning but are completely different. For example, ‘different’ has some of the following synonyms:

  • changed
  • altered
  • special

If we think of the verb (to perform an action) ‘close,’ we could also use ‘shut’ – if we were talking about windows, doors or boxes.

The confusion with learning English comes when there is the same spelling, but different pronunciation & meaning – a homograph.

Let’s use ‘close’ again.

Except this time, we’re using an adjective and we mean ‘to be near’ or ‘next to.’ We could also use the adverb form, meaning ‘very near to someone or something.’

We could also use ‘near,’ ‘adjacent,’ ‘together’ or even ‘nearby.’

As confusing as it might be, with patience, and by learning the meaning and context of synonyms, you’ll soon get the hang of things.

We recommend a thesaurus – either online or from your favourite bookshop. The definition of thesaurus is ‘a dictionary of synonyms and antonyms.’ Essential for any student of the English language, it offers a way to expand your vocabulary and, in doing so, you’ll get much more from the reading, writing and speaking.

Find a word and explore – it’s part of the fun. You’ll be surprised how quickly you pick up contexts, meanings and, of course words! Most modern word processing or writing software comes with an extensive thesaurus already built in, so it’s even easier to increase your knowledge.

There are also many websites available for you to use – the aptly named thesaurus.com (along with its companion at dictionary.com), is one of our favourites – especially if you’re learning English and writing for professional purposes.

The trick is to always keep it simple – don’t use words just because you can. As always, clarity (simplicity) and brevity (economy of words) is best. The whole point is to get your message across, whether written or spoken. At Sounds English, that’s our aim when you learn English with us.


Now that we’ve covered synonyms, we come to antonyms.

Simply put, these are opposites – the world renowned Oxford Dictionary defines antonym as ‘word opposite in meaning to another.’

Taking our earlier examples, ‘different’ would become ‘equal’ or ‘(the) same.’  The verb ‘close’ would become ‘open’ and, in its adjective form could become ‘distant’ or ‘far.’

Almost every word in the English language has a synonym and an antonym and the more you know, the better your grasp of English will be, no matter what your reason for learning.

So, why not join us at soundsenglish.com and start your journey today? There are FREE lessons, booklets and tests to find your level of understanding – and a FREE trial!

You have nothing to lose and a lot to gain, no matter what your reason for wanting to learn English.

We look forward to welcoming you.

Chris Ryu


  1. Eager to learn english from your website.

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