vocabulary (words)

epistolario

Senior Member
Tagalog
One teacher was teaching vocabulary words to pupils. She just wrote the word vocabulary on the board with the list of words related to the topic, but it sounds incomplete. I would normally see the expression vocabulary words. Are both acceptable?
 
  • lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    'Vocabulary' covers words.
    :thumbsup: Therefore it makes little sense to use it attributively to modify the words it automatically covers.

    Vocabulary — which can also be a vocabulary related to a specific subject or existing in a specific language — means a body of words.
     

    pob14

    Senior Member
    American English
    What ETB and lingo say is sensible and correct. Nonetheless, from third grade through high school, we were always given lists of vocabulary words, so I find it natural.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Non-native speakers often use "vocabulary" as a countable noun:

    I had to study thirty vocabularies. :cross:
    I had to study thirty vocabulary words. :tick:


    Perhaps this is why epistolario suspected "vocabulary" might be incorrect in the original. But it's not.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    Interesting! We had "vocabulary lists" or "lists of vocabulary" (in French and German - not in English).

    ....
    Cross-posted:)
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    I had thirty words to learn.
    The vocab list was thirty words long.

    etc etc etc.:)
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Agreed. I’d written: We were given 30 words to learn.

    In the UK, as you can see, we probably wouldn’t use the word study in this context either.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I think when it's used that way it's serving as the name of a subject.

    Vocabulary contrasts with spelling, for instance.

    These are words you are supposed to learn the meaning of. Spelling words might be tricky to remember how to spell. Which is a different topic.

    So it's a label for the kind of learning the words apply to.
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    At my American school, "vocabulary" was a regular part of English classes. This consisted of high-register/literary/formal words -- the kinds of words you may not know even as a native speaker if you're a child or a teenager. ;) By "study" I meant "study for a quiz/test."

    I'm studying for a test. These vocab(ulary) words are driving me crazy!
     

    lingobingo

    Senior Member
    English - England
    A possible British version:

    I’m swotting like mad for my test. The vocab is a doddle, but the grammar is a pain in the proverbials. :D
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'd have got nowhere telling the French teacher I'd learnt the meaning of the words but not the spelling
    As Elroy says, we're talking about quizzes and tests. A spelling test was different than a vocabulary test. For a spelling test, the teacher would stand at the front of the room and say a list of words one by one. You didn't have to know what they meant, you just had to be able to spell them. I remember that very specifically from 6th grade because we would trade papers and grade each other's quizzes. The teacher would go through the list and say the correct answers one by one and she knew which word (usually just one) I might have trouble with. When she said the correct spelling she would look at me and could usually tell by my face whether I got it right or wrong. It was kind of a little game.

    I don't remember having any direct vocabulary tests, but vocabulary testing was probably merged in with other tests, where you had to show you knew how to use words correctly in context. But it was a different group of words.
     

    Loob

    Senior Member
    English UK
    This is clearly a case where the difference in usage reflects differences in educational practice.:)
     

    velisarius

    Senior Member
    British English (Sussex)
    It wasn't originally about tests.;)

    One teacher was teaching vocabulary words to pupils. She just wrote the word vocabulary on the board with the list of words related to the topic, but it sounds incomplete. I would normally see the expression vocabulary words. Are both acceptable?
    The teacher seems to be making a list of the new vocabulary associated with the lesson. This may be for making practise sentences, or for copying down in a vocab(ulary) notebook, to be learned by heart after the lesson.
     
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