Selecting the right words is an essential part of communicating, whether you’re writing a wedding speech or a technical report. You need to choose words that are appropriate for your subject matter, that pitch your message at the right level for your audience, and words that most clearly convey what you are trying to say.
It is true that English has a vast and varied vocabulary. However, we mostly communicate using only a fraction of those words. They are all standard, everyday words such as tall, eat, forget, and good. Those are the words that people are most used to. So, if you use them rather than more flowery words, your writing will be easier for people to read and process.
English is very rich in synonyms. But very often synonyms do not mean exactly the same thing. They are used in distinct styles of writing; some are more formal; some are slangy.For example, dozens of words express the idea ‘to steal’, but they are all different. Just to examine three of them: purloin is definitely formal, while steal is ‘neutral’, that is to say it is neither formal nor informal. But nick is definitely informal: you would be surprised to find it in a newspaper report of a crime!
It is important to respect groups in society such as people with disabilities, older people, ethnic minorities, and so forth. One way of doing this is to choose appropriate, non-stereotyping words. In particular, the words you use should be gender-inclusive and not suggest a masculine bias. There are several ways of doing this. For example, when referring to professions it is nowadays standard to avoid words that refer only to one sex, such as actress (use actor) or policeman (use police officer).
By widening your vocabulary you will have more words to choose from, which means you are more likely to know a word that most precisely conveys your message. Reading is an excellent way to learn new words. However, before you use them, be sure to check the meanings of any words that are new to you in a dictionary!