Question from Salim in Lebanon:

Recently I stopped on the word vocabulary to find that it can be can you offer me the way we can use vocabularies in a what sense can it be correct..thanks

Hi Salim, this is a quick question to answer for you. The word ‘vocabulary‘ can of course be singular as in ‘the English vocabulary‘, that is all of the words in the English language, or ‘my English vocabulary ‘, all of the English words that I know, but, as you point out, it can also be plural.

Think about all of the languages in the world – each one has its own vocabulary. So there is a Chinese vocabulary, and an Arabic vocabulary, a Russian vocabulary – each one is very different, and we can say, ‘ the Chinese, Arabic and Russian vocabularies contain a large number of items’.

You can also have sub-sets of word groups in a language, such as English, where we talk about a ‘vocabulary’, for example the ‘vocabulary of marketing’ or the ‘vocabulary of banking’ – we could group these together under ‘business vocabulary’ and talk about the different business ‘vocabularies‘.

Hope that has helped.

Anthony Hughes
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