This AWL vocabulary, much of it writing words, or at least words connected with books and plays, is mostly found in two interesting Voice of America articles for English learners, one on the development of modern English and one on William Shakespeare. After a few explanations, you can practice these words by filling in the blanks in several paragraphs. If you would like to review their meanings first, you will find most of them on a Writing Words crossword. (Right click here to download the crossword and here for its answers.
The adjectives ‘positive’ and its opposite ‘negative’ have several meanings and uses. ‘Positive’ usually means something good or favorable, but it can also express certainty (no doubt): “I’m positive Larry visited us last Wednesday, not last Thursday.”
A positive attitude is hopeful and flexible: “Mary always stays positive about life. Even when things go badly for her she finds something good in her situation.” A person with a negative attitude sees or expects the worst in a situation. He or she may be excessively critical , finding fault with what others do or the solutions they propose. Positive and negative also refer to the advantages and disadvantages of a possible choice, and to opposing electrical charges.
To manipulate (from the Latin word for hand) means to handle or work with something (for example, data), but it also can have a negative meaning: to work secretly to get what one wants, not by frankly expressing it but by subtle twisting of other people’s thoughts. A manipulative person finds sneaky ways to get other people to do things to his or her advantage.
We distinguish, or make a distinction, between similar things to point out their differences. Something distinctive stands out from other related objects (it’s ‘distinctly’ different.) These words also may imply praise or honor. Someone might introduce a speaker by saying, “I would like to present the distinguished educator (or author or other professional) who ...” A person who writes with distinction writes clearly and well.
Here is a range of adjectives for describing difference:
identical- exactly the same >... distinguishable- it’s possible to tell the difference between them >... similar- alike in many ways >... related- connected, about the same subject >...distinctive- different, standing out from others >...unique- one of a kind, with nothing similar or at all like it.
Stress is a body’s reaction to danger or problems-- or the amount of emphasis we put on syllables or ideas. (“The boss stressed that anyone who was late to the meeting would be fired.”)