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Last updated: July 2019
To write copy that sells, do you need a good vocabulary?
Some people say you don’t. They say that good writing uses words that are simple, and everyone knows all the simple words.
There are indeed many obscure words like furnish that can almost always be replaced with simpler words like give. In fact, in the 12 best resources for improving your writing, we recommended a useful guide called The A–Z of Alternative Words, which helps you replace pompous words (like ameliorate) with simple words (like improve).
But that’s not the whole story.
You see, you have two types of vocabulary: an active one and a passive one.
The average adult’s passive vocabulary is much larger (some say ten times larger) than their active one. Which means that your active vocabulary is likely to be missing many powerful words and phrases that everyone understands.
So even though you have no trouble understanding the following sentence…
“Hurry! These places are first-come-first-served, so seize the opportunity while it’s still fresh in your mind.”
…you may have never written some of those italicized words.
You should practice moving good copywriting words from your passive vocabulary to your active vocabulary. Here are several ways to do it:
Do those four things and your copy will ameliorate like crazy.
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