List of Vocabulary Words Important for English Study
This list of vocabulary words includes 120 of the most useful words for study in English. These words include the most common vocabulary you'll need for university or professional work. They're essential for understanding proposals, arguments, or the news in English.
How to Use This List
The list is arranged in six sections of 20 words each to make study and practice easier.
(The top 100 are essential-- and common-- academic words. The last 20 are somewhat less common, but also important.)
Each list is followed by links to pages that explain or practice many of its words.
Direct links to each section of the list:
• Section 1: Start with these Thinking Words
• Section 2: Academic Writing Vocabulary
• Section 3: Persuasive Words
• Section 4: Adjectives and Adverbs
• Section 5: More Useful Vocabulary
• Section 6: Higher Level Vocabulary. (Most of the words in the sections above are from the most common two thousand+ words in English. The words in this section aren't quite as common. They are still crucial for understanding discussions, arguments, and tests.)
These words will help you to understand more of what you read with only occasional use of a dictionary.
That’s important for comprehension. If you interrupt your reading often to look up unknown words, it's easy to lose the thought you’ve just read.
Even the small number of academic vocabulary words on this list can help you get closer to the level you need. (There are 120 word “families” here. That's well over 200 words counting all the most common forms.)
There are of course many more words you will need for serious academic or professional work. (You can practice many of the others on EnglishHints too.) This list of vocabulary words is an excellent place to start.
It’s based on my own experience (as a student, reader, and teacher). I've also considered lists made by several other teachers and researchers.
Hints for Word Study
Note that many of these words are so common that they have developed more than one use or meaning. It’s important to notice how they are used in context as you read. Don't just memorize a simple definition.
Vocabulary.com is very good for giving the different meanings or uses of words. It also has lots of examples of their use in sentences.
See especially the 100 words on the Academic Vocabulary Toolkit list. It's a little different from this list. (She counts each form or part of speech separately.) But it's well worth the study. She also gives definitions and sentence examples for each word.
If you only have time for one sub-list of 10 words, try list 3 (see list intro-- "Read More"-- for links to the 10 sub-lists).
You will already know many of these words. Learn the others with the help of the links on this page. You’ll be well on your way to reading whatever you need in English!
1: Start with These Thinking Words
Note: Each word family begins with the verb (vb.), if it has one. Next comes its noun (n.) or nouns, and common adjective(s) (adj.) or adverb(s) (adv.), if any. Only commonly used forms are listed.
Spellings are American when British spellings differ. (For example, analyze vs. analyse.) Both American and British spellings should be acceptable anywhere.
- analyze (vb.), analysis (n.) & analyst (n.- person), analytical (adj.), analytically (adv.)
- assume (vb.), assumption (n.)
- categorize (vb.), category (n.)
- conclude (vb.), conclusion (n.), conclusive (adj.), conclusively (adv.)
- consider (vb.), consideration (n.), considerable (adj.)
- context (n.), contextual (adj.)
- evaluate (vb.), evaluation (n.)
- evidence (n.), evident (adj.), evidently (adv.)
- examine (vb.), examination (n.)
- factor (vb. or n.)
- hypothesis (n., plural: hypotheses), hypothetical (adj.)
- identify (vb.), identification and identity (ns.)
- intend (vb.), intention (n.), intentional (adj.), intentionally (adv.)
- investigate (vb.), investigation (n.)
- perspective (n.)
- predict (vb.), prediction (n.) predictable & unpredictable (adjs.) , predictably (adv.)
- rely (vb.), reliance (n.), reliable (adj.), unreliable (adjs)
- resolve (vb.), resolution (n.)
- select (vb.), selection (n.), selective (adj.), selectively (adv.)
- solve (vb.), solution (n.), solvable or unsolvable (adjs.)
You can practice most of these words in the Investigations Crossword. (answers here) and Scientific Method Vocabulary. If you already know most of the 100 words on this priority vocabulary list, try the other words they teach!
Many of these first words are also used in the explanations on the Improve Reading Skills page. They're also in the flashcards and games for this Quizlet List. (I like the matching game best, but Gravity is challenging!)
You can also practice them (along with the words in section 3) in a word search puzzle. (Its answers are here.)
Section 2: Academic Writing Vocabulary
- compare (vb.), comparison (n.), comparable & comparative (adjs.)
- contrast (vb.or n.*), contrasting (adj.)
- define (vb.), definition (n.)
- demonstrate (vb.), demonstration (n.), demonstrative (adj.)
- describe (vb.), description (n.), descriptive (adj.)
- develop (vb.), development (n.), developed, developing, undeveloped (adjs.)
- emphasize (vb.), emphasis (n.), emphatic (adj.), emphatically (adv.)
- explain (vb.), explanation (n)
- illustrate (vb.), illustration (n.), illustrated (adj.)
- imply (vb.), implication (n.)
- indicate (vb.), indication (n.), indicative (adj.)
- interpret (vb.), interpretation (n.), interpretative (adj.)
- introduce (vb.), introduction (n.), introductory (adj.)
- purpose (n.), purposeful (adj.)
- quote (vb. or n.), quotation (n.), quotable (adj.)
- revise (vb.), revision (n.)
- suggest (vb.), suggestion (n.), suggestible or suggestive (adjs.)
- summarize (vb.), summary (n.)
- topic (n.), topical (adj.)
- transition (n.), transitional (adj.)
*Often if a word is used both as a noun and a verb, the noun form will have the accent (stress) on the first syllable. The stress on the verb will be on the second. (Con'-trast is the stress for the noun. Con-trast' is the verb.)
(Other examples: object & subject in section 3 & impact, in section 6 below. Im'-pact, ob'-ject, and sub'-ject are the pronunciations of the noun forms. The verbs are im-pact', ob-ject;, and sub-ject'. The same is true for noun and verb forms of conduct, extract, increase, permit, progress, and transport, among other words.)
However, 'support' in section 3 has the accent on the second syllable for both noun and verb forms: sup-port'. Ben'efit in section 3 has the stress on the first syllable for both.
You can see examples of many of these words in the TOEFL or IELTS Essay Sample or Essay Organization. Practice them on Writing Test Vocabulary or Online Crossword- Essential Academic Vocabulary. (Those also include many Section 1 words.)
There's a word search puzzle to review these words (and the words in sections 3 & 5). Its answers are here.
Section 3: Persuasive Words
- agree (vb.), agreement (n.), agreeable (adj.); negatives are disagree, disagreement, and disagreeable
- argue (vb.), argument (n.), argumentative (adj.)
- benefit (vb. or n.), beneficial (adj.), beneficially (adv.)
- challenge (vb. & n.), challenging (adj.)
- consistent (adj.), consistently (adv.)
- convince (vb.), convincing (adj.), convincingly (adv.)
- issue (vb. or n.)
- justify (vb.), justification (n.), justifiable, justified or unjustified (adjs.), justifiably (adv.)
- logic (n.), logical (adj.), logically (adv.)
- object (vb. or noun), objective (n. or adj., with different meanings), objectively (adv.)
- oppose (vb.), opposition (n.), opponent (n.-person), opposed & opposing (adjs.)
- persuade (vb.), persuasion (n.) persuasive (adj.), persuasively (adv.)
- principle (n.), principled (adj.)
- propose (vb.), proposal, proposition (ns.), proposed (adj.)
- react (vb.), reaction & reactor (ns.), reactive (adj.)
- relevant or irrelevant (adjs.)
- respond (vb.), response (n.), irresponsible, responsible, & responsive (adjs.), responsibly
- subject (n. or less commonly a vb.), subjective (adj.), subjectively (adv.)
- support (vb. or n.), supporter (n.- person), supportive (adj.)
- valid & invalid (adjs.)
Section 4: Words Used Primarily as Adjectives and Adverbs
- accurate (adj.), accurately (adv.)
- adequate, inadequate (adjs.), adequately, inadequately (advs.)
- alternative (adj.-- or n.), alternatively (adv.)
- appropriate (adj.), appropriately (adv.) or inappropriate
- aware (adj.)
- brief (adj.), briefly (adv.)
- crucial (adj.), crucially (adv.)
- essential (adj.), essentially (adv.)
- fundamental (adj.), fundamentally (adv.)
- major (adj.)
- maximum (adj. or n.), maximal (adj.)
- minimum (adj. or n.), minimal (adj.)
- minor (adj.)
- previous (adj.), previously (adv.)
- primary (adj.), primarily (adv.)
- prior (adj.)
- significant or insignificant (adjs.), significantly
- similar (adj.), similarly (adv.)
- specific (adj.), specifically (adv.)
- unique (adj.), uniquely (adv.)
Many of these have noun forms. (Examples: accuracy, awareness, relevance, significance, similarity, validation & validity. There are also some that are less common.) A few have verb forms (alternate, convince, maximize, minimize, & specify). Most are not as common as the adjective or adverb forms.
Notice how often adjectives are formed from verbs or nouns by adding -al, -ic and -ive. (Even more common is using the verb’s past or present participle. See the yellow box in Word Formation for an explanation of the difference. See also Suffix List for many more examples of all these endings.)
You can practice many of these on the Adjective Opposite Matching Games pages. See especially the main page and the Thinking Adjectives page. Several are also on the Vocabulary for Achievement page.
More Useful Vocabulary
- approach (vb. or n.), approaching ot approachable (adjs.)
- chart (vb. or n.), uncharted (adj.)
- consequence (n.), consequent or consequential (adjs.), consequently (adv.)
- contribute (vb.), contribution (n.)
- cycle (n.), cyclical (adj.)
- exclude (vb.), exclusion (n.), excluded, excluding, & exclusive (adjs.), exclusively (adv.)
- imagine (vb.), imagination (n.), imaginative or imaginary, unimaginable or unimaginative (adjs.)
- include (v.), inclusion (n.), included, including, & inclusive (adjs.)
- label (vb. or n.), labeled or unlabeled (adjs.)
- locate (vb.), location (n.), local (adj.)
- participate (vb.), participation (n.), participant (n.-person) participating (adj.)
- prioritize (vb.), priority (n.)
- require (vb.), requirement (n.), required (adj.)
- resource (n.), resourceful (adj.)
- restrict (vb.), restriction (n.), restrictive (adj.)
- source (n., though it can less commonly also be used as a verb)
- strategy (n.), strategic (adj.), strategically (adv.)
- symbolize (vb.), symbol (n.), symbolic (adj.)
- transform (vb.), transformation or (electrical) transformer (ns.)
- vary (vb.), variable, variation or variety (ns.), invariable or variable (adjs), invariably (adv.)
You can practice some of these List of Vocabulary words on the Collaborative Thinking Crossword. (Answers are here).
You can also practice lists 2-4 with the games and flashcards on Quizlet. Just enroll in my (Mrs. Simonton’s) course there. It’s free, but you have to register. (Link to list 1 is above, after Section 1.) The list has changed over time, so some words will be different.
Art Vocabulary demonstrates several of the words on these lists. See explanations for assumption, demonstration, explanation, illustrate, perspective, and symbol.
Free Word Search Puzzles has academic vocabulary word searches. There are links to some of them at the ends of sections 1 and 2. The first also includes section 3 and the second includes most of the word families in section 4.
It has two more puzzles at the end of the academic section with 50 words each. Use them to review 100 more useful words for university study or professional work.
6. Higher Level Vocabulary
- adapt (vb.), adaptation (n.), adaptable, adaptive or maladaptive (adjs.)
- approximate (adj. or vb.), approximately (adv.)
- clarify (vb.), clarification (n.), clarified (adj.)
- coherence (n.), coherent or incoherent (adjs.), coherently or incoherently (adv.)
- compensate (vb.), compensation (n.), compensated, compensatory, or uncompensated (adjs.)
- contradict (vb.), contradiction (n.), contradictory (adj.)
- cooperate (vb.), cooperation (n.), cooperative or uncooperative (adjs.)
- criteria (n.- plural; sing. is criterion)
- eliminate (vb.), elimination (n.)
- flexibility (n.), flexible or inflexible (adjs.)
- ideology (n.), ideological (adj.), ideologically (adv.)
- impact (vb. or n.)
- infer (vb.), inference (n.)
- interact (vb.), interaction (n.), interactive (adj.)
- modify (vb.), modification (n,), modifiable, modified, or unmodified (adjs.)
- motivate (vb.), motive or motivation (ns.), motivated (adj.)
- precede (vb.), precedent (n.), preceding, unprecedented (adjs.)
- regulate (vb.), regulation or regulator (ns.), regulatory (adj.)
- reverse (vb. or n.), reversible or irreversible (adjs.)
- volunteer (vb. or n), voluntary or involuntary (adjs.), voluntarily or involuntarily (advs.)
Home> TOEFL & IELTS Vocabulary> Priority List of Vocabulary Words.
Didn't find what you
needed? Explain what you want in the search box below.
(For example, cognates, past tense practice, or 'get along with.') Click to see the related pages on EnglishHints.