How we word things is incredibly important in all aspects of life. Do you have a partner? A life-mate? A boyfriend? A theyfriend? A lover? A wife? A spouse? It matters what we call each other and it matters what we call our playtime and our toys.
When you're getting into BDSM, see what names and phrases make you comfortable. For example, I can call myself his mistress or his dom. But I'm not a dominatrix. I'm just not. Likewise, X is my sub or my slave, but never my subordinate. It may seem like a little thing, but what you call each other helps build trust. Pay attention to what your lover wants to be called or wants to call you and see what makes you comfortable.
In the same vein, behaviors can have different names. Let's take striking a partner across the buttocks. Is it paddling? Spanking? Punishing? If it's beating, does that mean you're using an instrument or are you using bare hands? Different phrases have different expectations, so be aware of what expectations you're setting up. Ask clarifying questions to make sure you're on the same page.
When I talk about asking questions, it doesn't have to be anything formal. It can be casual, but still needs to be clear.
Sub to be: Have you ever considered punishing me?
Dom to be: You mean spanking you? Like with my hands?
Sub to be: Or with a paddle.
Notice the set up - the Sub asked for something. The Dom clarified it. The Sub clarified it further. And all done in an informal friendly way. Where you take it after that is up to you.
You will also come across some toys/pieces that could be called the same thing, but aren't the same thing at all. For example, we have a piece of metal that can hold X's ankles and wrists captive in a kneeling position. We call this the stockade. We also have a piece that can hold X's wrists and neck (not to be used at the same time as the stockade). We call this a yoke. Could we technically call the yoke a stockade? Sure. It's similar to a stockade you see at a renaissance faire (because I'm that kind of nerd). But we don't. We call it a yoke and that's its name. Can you imagine the confusion in a scenario if we didn't have these things clarified?
Dom: I'm going to put you in the stockade and you're going to like it!
Sub: Yes mistress!
Dom: Here it is!
Sub: Not that! The other stockade!
Totally ruins the moment.
It doesn't matter if we call the yoke "Bunny Cottontail's Hat." Just pick some phrasing and stick with it. You'll thank me later.