Active & Passive English Vocabulary
Vocabulary is a subset of the dictionary: it is restricted to all the words available to a person. We differentiate between “active” vocabulary (the set of words we use, orally and written) and “passive” vocabulary (the set of words we understand).
So Active vocabulary is the words we ourselves use to express ourselves. Passive vocabulary is that which we understand, but don`t actively use ourselves when we speak to ourselves.
Passive vocabulary contains words that a person understands when reading or hearing them, but which they rarely, if ever, use when writing or speaking. There are two kinds of vocabulary:
1. Active vocabulary
2. Passive vocabulary
1. Active Vocabulary: The active vocabulary of a person consists of those words that he can use correctly in his own speech and writing. He fully understands the meaning of those words.
Active vocabulary is also called working or functional vocabulary. Whatever words are taught to the students in the first three years should form a part of their active vocabulary. In other words the students should master those words at the productive level.
2. Passive Vocabulary: The passive vocabulary of a person consists of those words which he recognizes when he meets them in print or in the speech of others. He can make out the meanings of those words, for example, while reading an editorial in the newspaper. But he has not sufficient mastery over those words. So he can`t use them in his own speech and writing.
Passive vocabulary is also called recognition vocabulary. In senior classes students are required to learn certain words which form a part of their passive vocabulary only.
It should be noted that a word which forms a part of a student’s passive vocabulary in the 9th may be included in his active vocabulary next year.
A person`s passive vocabulary is always larger than his active vocabulary because the former also includes the later.