How to WRITE EVERY WORD you know.

Since learning Chinese I’ve been increasingly interested in words. I’ve never really thought about it but there is literally a word for everything you can see, feel and do.

When I have my Chinese lessons I’ll say something like “Tomorrow I will go to” in Chinese, and “get a massage” in English. My teacher will then usually tell me what “get a massage” is in Chinese. It’s silly but I usually think ‘wow, there is a word for everything!’.

Why I decided to write down every word I know

After the thought of ‘wow, there’s a word for everything’ I wondered how many words do I know? I’m a native speaker of English, I’ve been speaking English all my life, so how many words do I actually know?

I decided to write a list, and each word I write I’ll use in a sentence. I will publish the list on my site (well, write some posts about it). I will do one which is entirely alphabetical, and the other will be divided into categories. For example “nature”, “technology”, “food and drink” etc. They’ll be the same words, just presented differently.

i wonder how many words we’ve learnt in our life?

How to write every word you know.

1. Give yourself some rules, or parameters

The first thing I did was create a set of guidelines. I gave myself rules such as no plurals, no numbers, no names. Or things which were okay, such as different verb forms were okay, same spelling but different meaning was okay.

Here are my rules:

Dan of the World writing words rules

2. Give yourself a few simple words to start and go from there

The sentences you write will generate more words. I started with a few basic words such as: a, I, you, me, red. When I used the word in a sentence this generated more words for myself to add to the list. For example:

a – This is a cat.

This sentence created three more words: this, is, cat. Now I can add those three words to the list and make sentences for them. This allows for extreme exponential growth, plus it’s fun and super easy to do.

A list of ten words quickly goes to 54. Then that list will generate 120 more words. Those 120 words will generate a lot more. At the moment I’m currently sitting at 500 words, about 80 of those still need a sentence. From those 80 words I’ll probably generate another 200 I can add to the list. It will just keep going and going.

Part of the un-alphabeticalised list. The bold is where I need to start looking in the sentences for new words. I can already see the word itinerary is new, so it will be added to the list. (I also haven’t double checked grammar yet, such as with compute).

Writing every word you know will keep going and going until…

Writing every word I know has been super easy and fun so far. The most difficult part has been RSI from all the typing. I haven’t yet had to even think of any new words. I’m not yet sitting there wondering to myself “what words do I know?” The sentences are creating them for me.

I think it’ll become more interesting when I really start to think about what words I know. Words like: nuclear, stabilisation, philanthropy, tentative, monolithic etc. These words don’t come up in everyday conversation, so they’re words I need to think about.

There is still a few months until I need to finish. But if you feel like a cool project to work on for about 10-15 minutes everyday I suggest giving this a go. How many words do you know?

Dan of the World words waiting for sentence
Words currently waiting for a sentence.

Since you’re here, why not look at some more interesting posts like How to wake up feeling FRESH using sleep cycles. Or Three amazing reasons why you should have a ROUTINE.

Better yet, see all my posts by looking at my self development page.

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