Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English

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Part 1: Introduction


With more than 8 million speakers in every part of the world, English now has taken its place as the most important international language. Therefore, the goal of learning and using this language is not just the knowledge of grammatical rules but also the knowledge of lexicology, especially, antonyms and synonyms which will pave a way for learners reach to the goal of successful communication. English learners can enhance their writing and speaking skills by using a variety of words in their own in term of using two amazing aspects in English language i.e: Antonyms and Synonyms respectively. For instance, often most of the words will have more than one Antonym (Synonym) totally depending on the context. Thus, it’s important to chose the right one, for this , you have to make analysis of all the meanings in detail in order to learn the appropriate use of Antonyms (Synonyms) in English language.

Aims of the study (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

  • This study gives the overview of antonym and synonym on English
  • This study analyzes types of antonyms as well as synonyms in detail.
  • This study gives the common problems of English learning when using antonym and synonym.
  • A lot of exercises are given in order that learner practice and enrich their vocabulary.

Scope of the study

This study looks into the antonym as well as synonym and gives how to choose an antonym (synonym). Besides, provides the learners the general view on English antonym (synonym) such as: definition, characteristic features and classification with illustrated examples.

In the main part, this study gives some notes when using Antonyms and Synonyms in English in order to use exactly and appropriately.

Methods of the study (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

To carry out this search, qualitative methods are mainly implemented I search for relevant knowledge from different books, dictionaries and web pages.

Based on the knowledge, collected, and studied, I systemized into a logical theoretical background of Antonyms and Synonyms in English and give typical Antonym (Synonym) groups and explain their Antonyms (Synonyms) in different situation. With the difficulties I myself cannot solve, I discussed with my teachers and friends and asked for their advice and instructions.

Design of the study

In order to help readers understand easily, this study is divided into three parts:

Part I-INTRODUCTION: gives the background of the study. It comprises five ingredients:

  1. Rationale
  2. Aims of the study
  3. Scope of the study
  4. Methods of the study
  5. Design of the study

Part II-DEVELOPMENT: includes three chapters:

Chapter I: Theoretical background: Provides the background to the study.

It consists of Antonyms and Synonyms.

Chapter II: Some notes when using Synonym and Antonym in English Chapter III: Implication: gives some related problems, suggested solutions and provides some exercises for practice.

Part III: CONCLUSION: Summaries the content of the whole study and suggests and ideas for further study.



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Chapter I: THEORETICAL BACKGROUND (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

1. Synonyms in English

1.1 Definition

Expressions with the same meanings are synonymous. Two points should be noted about this definition. First, it does not restrict the relation of lexemes to words: it allows the possibility that lexically simple expressions may have the same meaning as lexically complex expression (tease = to pill sombody’s leg). Second, it make identity, not merely similarity, or meaning the criterion of synonym. While the first point is right, the second is obviously a narrow position. Many words or expression which we perceive to be synonyms would not fit this definition.

Synonyms are actually words of the same parts of speech which have similar meaning, but not identical meanings. They may share a similar denotational or connotational meaning. They can differ from each another in terms of denotation or connotation.

Father and dad differ in terms of connotation rather than denotation; on the other hand, misfortune and accident, catastrophe will be different in denotation. (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

I’ll be happy to come vs I’ll be glad to come 1.1.1 Condition

Lyons (1995) introduces the notion of absolute synonymy. According to him, two (or more) expression “are absolute synonyms if, and only if, they satisfy the following three conditions: I’ll be happy to come vs. I’ll be glad to come.

  • (1). All their meanings are identical;
  • (2). They are synonymous in all contexts;
  • (3). They are semantically equivalent (i.e. their meaning or meanings are identical) on all dimensions of meanings and descriptive and non-descriptive.

It can be seen t hat such s ynonyms are extremely rare. We can talk about synonyms in terms of just one meaning. Further, it is important to distinguish between partial and near synonyms. Consider:

  • They live in a big/large house.

Big and large are generally regarded as synonyms, but clearly, they are not synonymous in all of their meanings. Thus, they fail to meet condition (1) above and so are partial synonyms only. Near synonyms are mist and fog, stream and brook, and dive and plunge, ask and beg, like and love, gift and talent. They differ in terms of denotation. Condition (2) is basically about the collocational range of an expression or word: the set of contexts in which it can occur. The issue is can synonyms be used interchangeably and substituted in all contexts? Let us consider: (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

  • She is making a mistake, big mistake vs. she is making a large

“She is making a large mistake” is grammatically well-formed, meaningful. But it is unacceptable collocationally.

Another example is firm and hard. We generally identify them as synonyms, but we may have serious doubt if someone say a hard government in stead of a firm government. Thus, it will be a mistake to asume that synonyms can be interchangeable.

Consider this example: Why did you marry her? I’ve asked that thousands of times. If we replaced ask by question, that you will entail a change in structure, at least. We will have to remove “that” (I’ve questioned you thousands of times).

While substitution is a good test of synonymousness, some reservation should be made about it. In fact, synonyms may be context-dependent (called contextual synonyms), i.e. they are similar in meaning only under certain specific distributional or collocational range. Buy and get offer an example.

  • Where did you buy the shirt?
  • Where did you get the shirt?

The third of the conditions listed above is identity on all dimensions of meaning. The most widely recognized dimension of meaning that is relevant to this condition is descriptive (or prepositional) meaning. By identity of descriptive meaning what we mean is that two expressions share the same descriptive meaning (i.e. are descriptively synonymous) if, and only if, propositions containing the one necessarily imply otherwise identical propositions containing the other, and vice versa.

For example: “bachelor” and “unmarried man”. A bachelor is necessarily an unmarried man but not vice versa.’ One can test for descriptive synonymy, in this case, by examining whether anyone truly, or correctly, described as a bachelor is truly describable as an unmaried man, and vice versa. It may be well that for some speakers the expressions are synonymous and for others they are not, and that for a third group the situation is unclear. Those who hold that “unmarried ” means, not just “not married” but “never having been married, and cannot be correctly applied to divorcees together with those, if any, who would readily apply both “bachelor” and “unmarried” to “divorcees” which will presumably treat “bachelor” and “unmarried man ” as “descriptively synonymous”. (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

“Big” and “large” are also descriptively synonymous in one of their meanings and over a certain range of contexts. Expressive (or socio-expressive, or connotative) is a kind of non-descriptive meaning. For example native English speakers are fully aware that a whole set of words including “huge, enormous, gigantic, colossal” are more expressive of the speaker’s feelings towards what they are describing than “very big” or “very large”. Other examples are:

  • Statesnam: politician
  • Thrifty: mean
  • Stingy: econonic
  • Stink: stench
  • Fragrance: smell

There is a very important point we wish to acknowledge, i.e. most of the words expressions everyday have both a descriptive and expressive meaning. (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

If we consider “autumn” and “fall”, there is no way of telling whether they are synonymous or not unless they are used a sentence like “He travels to the States every fall/autumn”. Thus exists a view that synonymy is a relation between predicates or sentences rather than words.

1.1.2 Synonymin group.

There are about 8000 synonymic groups in English. A synonymic group is a group of all synonyms (for example, chief – principal main – important). In a synonymic group we can see “synonymic dominant”, mostly general, neutral word, usually belonging to the basic stock of words.

  • Hope, expectation, anticipation.
  • Leave, depart, quit, retire, clear out.

1.2 Sources of synonyms (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

1.2.1. Borrowings

Many words were borrowed from Greek, Latin and French and they became synonyms to native words forming the synonymic group, in which the native words are usually neutral, French words are literary, Latin and Greek are bookish or scientific.

  • To ask – to question – to interrogate
  • belly – stomach – abdomen
  • to end – to finish – to complete

1.2.2 The change of meaning (especially metaphor and metonymy)

The word “hand” for example, acquired the. meaning “worker” and became synonym to this. word, then the meaning “side, direction” (hand side), signature (hand signature)

1.2.3 Word-building

(1). Use/creation of phrasal verbs:

  • to rise – to get up
  • to get off the ground – to talke off the ground.

(2). Conversion may also be a source of synonymy:

  • laughter – laugh

(3). Quite often synonyms (mostly stylistic) are due to shrotening:

  • bicycle – bike
  • microphone – mike
  • popular – pop (Khóa Luận: A Study On Synonyms And Antonyms In English)

(4). Synonyms are created by means of derivation and composition:

  • deceptive- deceitful
  • trader – tradesman
  • periphery – circumference
  • hypothesis – supposition
  • synthesis – composition

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