Cody Chun, Kieran O'Neil, Kylie Young, Julie Nelson Christoph
Subsection7.3.2Making Effective Word Choices
Strong word choice improves the quality of a paper and helps hold the reader's interest; inversely, using words incorrectly or ineffectively can lessen the writer's credibility. As you entrain for forthcoming linguistic endeavors, exploit these pointers to ensure your belles-lettres aren't as annoying and incorrect as this sentence has been.
Incorrect Word Choice.
Incorrect word choice usually occurs when a writer uses a word outside of its standard definition or context. This misuse can happen for a variety of reasons, including the writer having a wrong mental definition of the word, not knowing the word's popular connotation, or using the word in an inappropriate disciplinary context.
Ineffective Word Choice.
While academic writing usually employs more abstruse and sophisticated language than you find in every day conversation, sometimes using “big words” simply to sound smart can come across to an audience as pedantic. Words that are overly complicated and obfuscate the meaning of a sentence are therefore ineffective; if the point of writing is to convey meaning clearly, a confusing word should not get in the way of that meaning.
Alternatively, using words or phrases that are too simplistic, overused, or trite can also ineffectively convey meaning to a reader. Passive sentences, phrases constructed around “to be,” and clichés like “to be honest” all diminish the point you're trying to convey to a reader.
Example7.3.2.Effective Word Choice: Alas, Poor Hamlet!
Compare the following two sentences:
“To be honest, I didn't think that Hamlet was played by the right actor.”
“The actor who played Hamlet fell five times on stage, broke poor Yorick's skull, and forgot his lines during the “To be, or not to be. . .” speech. The directors of the play should have chosen a better actor to play Hamlet.”
The first sentence isn't bad, but the second sentences uses specific verbs that are widely known to paint a rich picture about why the actor who played Hamlet should get the hook.
Here are some synonyms that you might consider using to replace common or boring words. Remember to search for the definition of the synonym if you're uncertain of its meaning or connotations to ensure that it correctly conveys the meaning of your sentence.