Antonyms, Synonyms and Homonyms - Rules and Examples, Verbal Ability CAT Notes | EduRev

SSC CGL Tier 2 - Study Material, Online Tests, Previous Year

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Antonyms, synonyms, and homonyms are three sources of concern in classrooms. They can be confusing, and it's good to get a hang of them early. Every year in school, students will hear about these three groups of words, but the sooner they get clear on them, the sooner they can use them.

Interrelationships of Words

When you're learning words, there can't help but be spots where things get a little murky. English vocabulary is especially full of pitfalls since the language is so vast. In English, there are several words that share one meaning or nuances of one meaning. Then there are tiny words like "set" and "get" that have so many meanings that their definitions take up multiple dictionary pages. Then, just to make it more daunting, the English language has over a million words. As far as word banks, English is massive.

But don't let the enormousness of the language turn you off. Homonyms, antonyms, and synonyms can be used to learn new words and add a great deal to your diction and the way you talk about language in particular.

Knowing what words are similar or opposites helps people to understand the same when it comes to ideas. Ideas are impossible without words, and words are impossible without ideas. The more you think about the interrelationships of one, the better you are able to think about the interrelationships of the other.

Antonyms

Antonyms are words that mean the opposite of other words. The antonym of big is small, for example. Pretty easy, right? Well, slow down there, there's something to be learned in this. English lets its speakers make their own antonyms just by adding a prefix. The ability to make up one's own words and have them be real words is something truly lovable about English.

Mis, dis, dys, mal, in, and unare all prefixes one can affix to words to create antonyms.

Examples:

  1. Official becomes unofficial.
  2. Flexible becomes inflexible.
  3. Adroit becomes maladroit.
  4. Functional becomes dysfunctional.
  5. Peptic becomes dyspeptic.
  6. Philanthropist becomes misanthropist.

Careful: changing prefixes doesn't always work, like flammable and inflammable pretty much mean the same thing––they're synonyms––but usually prefix juggling works like water on fire.

Synonyms

Synonyms are words that share meanings with other words. There are many reasons why synonyms are great. Here are three:

  1. They make it possible for writers to create a mood with the nuances of their vocabularies. "Walk" is different than "saunter," and "drink" is different than "guzzle." The differences are in the mind, and when a writer is trying to paint a picture in a reader's mind, those differences can make or break a writer's prose.
  2. They give writers more rhythmic tools. "Absquatulate" means the same thing as "abscond," but they are rhythmically very different. Every serious writer thinks about the rhythm of what he or she produces. Synonyms give writers more control over that rhythm.
  3. They sound fancy. A little of this goes a long way, like using "utilize" for "use," but sometimes knowing a better-sounding word makes you sound intelligent. If you don't use fancy synonyms, you should at least be able to know when someone else is. Certain people use argot that isn't immediately understandable, but if you know a lot of synonyms, you will never be lost. Plus, if someone fails to comprehend your own jargon, you can use a synonym they know to get your point across. In writing, you can work on tone by saying "discharging a firearm" instead of "firing a gun" or "disenfranchised youths" for "kids without voices."

Homonyms

Homonyms are words that sound alike but have different meanings. They're great. They are source of entertainment, confusion, and inspiration.

Homonyms are often the cause of a spelling or word usage error. For example:

  • We accept (receive) a gift and we except (exclude) someone from a gift list.
  • We have multiple days (more than one day) of fun and we can have be in a daze (to be bewildered) on a new job.
  • We can go to (a preposition) the store, tell someone we want to go too (also) and we can take two (a number) friends.

Knowing antonyms, synonyms and homonyms will certainly expand our vocabulary; but, they can also be very confusing if the wrong word is written or spoken.

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