(This post comes from my experience of adding 5,000+ words to my active vocabulary, the one you can actually use when speaking and writing.)
Don’t you get impressed when a news anchor or other proficient speaker uses just the perfect word, and not a long-winded explanation, to describe a situation without a pause?
Those apt words are a result of a large active vocabulary.
We’ll learn more on what active vocabulary is later in the post, but in short it means vocabulary you can actually use when speaking and writing, the holy grail of any vocabulary-building exercise. If you introspect, you’ll realize that although you can understand lots of words when reading or listening (also called passive vocabulary), you can use only a minuscule fraction of that in speaking and writing (also called active vocabulary).
This post focuses on, first, building active vocabulary and, second, making this process efficient by building on words you already know – passive vocabulary – thereby making for faster progress.