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Vocabulary: Synonyms & Word Substitution

In this article, we are going to learn about how you can increase your vocabulary. And the best way to do that is to READ. A lot! Read often, read about a variety of topics and most importantly, read happily. Take a look at this blog to learn how to help your child fall in love with reading.

We will learn about synonyms and word substitutes in the article below. These are important topics as far as the PSLE is concerned and the details covered are suitable for students in the Primary 5 level.


Synonyms are words that have the same or similar meaning to another.

For example:

If Word A is equal or nearly equal in meaning to Word B, then words A and B are said to be synonyms of each other.

Why should we use synonyms?

Synonyms help to enrich your compositions. They are important because they:

  1. Add flavour and liven your story
  2. Convey or imply subtle nuances about your characters or story

Let’s look at a few words and their synonyms to understand this better.

Synonyms for EAT

All the words below are synonyms for ‘eat’ but there are slight differences in the meanings of these words.

  • Devour: eat (food or prey) hungrily or quickly. This has a greedy, violent or animalistic nuance to it
  • Consume: eat, drink or ingest some food or drink
  • Gobble: eat quickly and often, with a lot of loud chewing or swallowing sounds
  • Chew: keep chomping on the food in the mouth with your teeth to make it easier to swallow
  • Munch: eat something steadily and often, with some noise. It denotes a ‘fun’ feeling, i.e. if someone is munching his food, he is having fun eating it
  • Ingest: take (food, drink, or some other substance) into the body by swallowing or absorbing it. It is used to refer to scientific or medical substances

Synonyms for SCREAM

All the below words are synonyms for ‘scream’ but there are slight differences in the meanings of these words.

  • Shout: utter a loud cry, generally while expressing a strong emotion
  • Bellow: the deep loud roar one emits when they are in pain or anger
  • Yelp: a short, sharp cry denoting pain or alarm
  • Screech: a loud, harsh, piercing cry by a person or an animal
  • Caterwaul: to make a shrill howling or wailing noise, like that of a cat

Try It Yourself!

Try to give a synonym for the words given. Hints are given for the synonyms.

  • Hug - starting with ‘em…’  =====  {embrace}
  • Trick - starting with ‘dec…’ =====  {deceive}
  • Roomy - starting with ‘spa…’ =====  {spacious}

Question 1:

The man gave a __________ of surprise when the spider jumped out from behind the door.

  1. scream
  2. yelp
  3. screech
  4. caterwaul


2) yelp

Question 2:

The staff stayed back to make a list of all the items they had in the stock room.

What can you best replace a list with?

  1. an inventory
  2. an order
  3. a checklist
  4. a directory


1) an inventory

Word Substitutions

Word substitutions involve replacing many words with one word or a shorter phrase.

This allows us to:

  1. Summarise
  2. Be concise
  3. Be precise

Question 3:

“My tooth hurts, I should see a doctor who specialises in teeth.”


  1. practitioner 
  2. ophthalmologist
  3. dental hygienist
  4. dentist


4) dentist

Question 4:

If I feel let down, I can also say I feel:

  1. regretful
  2. disappointed
  3. infuriated
  4. frustrated


2) disappointed

Word Substitution for ‘at the same time’

Give a word for the phrase ‘at the same time’ that begins with:

  • sim =========  {simultaneous} 

It refers to events that occur at a point in time.

  • con =========  {concurrent} 

This refers to events that occur over a period of time.


  • Up to 100 people can simultaneously access the online portal.

  • Both movies will be screened concurrently, but I want to watch both!

 Question 5:

The book launch and product reveal will be held __________ at two separate locations. You will have to decide which event you would like to attend as both events will take up the whole day.

  1. simultaneously
  2. concurrently
  3. adjacently
  4. similarly


2) concurrently

Question 6:

“Hey, is the cat in the living room?” Mother shouted from upstairs.

“Yes!” Eren and Mikasa answered __________. They turned to each other to giggle at their coincidental timing.

  1. annually
  2. concurrently
  3. simultaneously
  4. significantly


3) simultaneously 


In this article, we learnt about synonyms and word substitutions.

  • Synonyms 

    • They have the same or similar meaning. 
    • However, they are not always interchangeable - there are slightly different meanings that may imply something entirely different from what you plan to initially convey if the most suitable synonym is not used.
  • Word Substitutions

    • These help to make our sentences concise. 
    • But do note that these word substitutions should not change the intended meaning of the sentence. The substituted word should preserve the meaning of the original phrase.

As you read more and more, you must pay attention to how the author uses synonyms to describe the same scenario and how it adds flavour to the story. Also, pay attention to the various word substitutions that you come across. 

These are important topics that you need to prepare for your PSLE and Primary 5 tests or exams. You must make every effort to read widely so that you can practice these tips.

Continue Learning
Synthesis & Transformation : Reason Relative Pronouns: Who, Whom & Whose
Vocabulary: Synonyms & Word Substitution Pronouns: Demonstrative, Possessive & Reflexive
Editing: Sharpening Your Understanding Synthesis & Transformation: Reported Speech
Verbs: Modals & Interrogatives Synthesis & Transformation - Active And Passive Voice
Character Development: ALTOS & Creating A Memorable Character Grammar Cloze - Revision
Expand Your Vocabulary: Different Ways To Express Speech, Hearing & Seeing Comprehension & Question Tags
The Difference in Some Clozes Perfect Tense & Common Tense Errors
Interrogative Words & Modal Verbs Prepositions - All Types
Comprehension - Factual Questions Simple, Perfect And Continuous Tenses
Resources - Academic Topics
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