The Choice of Words by V H Collins

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Wow! I can’t believe how quickly this week has gone. It is almost Saturday again which means it is time to pull another book of my shelf and tell you all about it. As with my first book review (see here) I will be giving you a general summary of the book and my thoughts, so you can decide whether you want to add it to your own bookshelf. Following a request from Kamila on Instagram, I am going to be reviewing The Choice of Words by V H Collins. If you get a chance check out Kamila’s stuff on Instagram (@kamilatekin) or her website here.

The Choice of Words – A Book of Synonyms with Explanations

I originally found this in a charity shop and couldn’t resist buying it. I am a sucker for language books in any shop, much to the dismay of my long suffering fiancèe, but when it is an old, tattered book like this there is really no question if I will buy it.

Charity price markings

As the title suggest, it is a book of synonyms; words in English with similar meanings. Unlike what you would find with a normal thesaurus, this gem focuses on a small set of words in a particular group (sorted by meaning) and then explaining the common usages and differences between them. For example, one grouping is frighten, terrify, alarm, intimidate and scare. Then it goes into detail explaining the difference of frighten (to cause various degrees of fear) and terrify (to frighten to an extreme degree). Very clear and concise; great for the no-frills English learner.

Frighten, Terrify, Alarm, Intimidate and Scare

I have these kinds of books on my shelf for fun rather than any practical reason but I think this would be really helpful for anyone who is learning or teaching English. From conversations I have had with my Italian language partner in the past, it is commonly difficult for a foreigner learning English to easily define the difference between similar words or phrases.. It is equally difficult for the average native speaker to explain it in a simple way, without resorting to repeating the definitions that Google provides after a quick internet search. This book is the perfect solution for this situation.

It makes me wish I could find the equivalent in German and Italian to help learn those small nuances that are really hard to get to grips with at the early or intermediate stages.


If you are looking for a nice story book or a textbook to teach you specific grammar rules, then you probably won’t be interested in this one. However, if you want a little insight into the differences in English terms or a reference to have on standby when a tricky question is thrown at you, then you are in luck!

The only link I can find on Amazon (UK) is here. Unless you are lucky enough to find this on a dusty charity shop shelf like me.

I hope you have enjoyed this review and stay tuned for another next week!

Ciao for now!

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