Presentation on theme: "UAB UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER Improving Word Choice."— Presentation transcript:
UAB UNIVERSITY WRITING CENTER Improving Word Choice
Features of Effective Word Choice Clarity – the meaning of the word is clear, not ambiguous Concise – each word has purpose and power; no unnecessary words Coherent – each word is clearly connected within its phrase, sentence, and paragraph Emphasis – each word is situated within the sentence in a way that clearly indicates its degree of emphasis in the sentence
Clarity Watch the use of pronouns – always locate its antecedent and make sure it is clear and agrees: Everyone (singular) wants their (plural) study to be featured in their (whose?) latest journal. Each aspiring researcher wants his or her study to be featured in the latest scientific journal. Context shapes meaning, but taken out of context, a word may lose its clarity. Ex. Character: a person in a fictional setting, such as a novel, a play, or movie; a symbol on a keypad; positive connotation: one’s inner level of integrity, as in “moral character”; negative connotation: a jokster, as in “he’s a real character.”
Concise “Less is more” strategy: one strong word choice is preferable to several weak words Reduce clauses to phrases. Reduce prepositional phrases to adjectives: Ecosystem with many endangered species Endangered ecosystem Avoid unnecessary repetition Be specific, rather than vague Try reversing the order of the sentence
Coherent Generally, coherence refers to how the word fits within its paragraph and/or essay context Repeat key terms Use transitional/cohesive devices that show connections/relationships among the words: Therefore, Although, In addition to, However, First, Second, Finally, Because, Moreover, In summary… Keep consistent connotative value among word choice Keep verb tense consistent
Emphasis The location of a word in a sentence indicates its importance. The strongest position (in English syntax) is the beginning of a sentence or independent clause. Subjects often go at the beginning of a sentence. For emphasis, a connecting word may precede the subject. The second strongest position (in English syntax) is the end of a sentence or independent clause. Ex. What we really want in sentences is ________.
Strategies to Improve Word Choice Reduce the use of linking or passive verbs: Circle every use of am, is, are, was, were, being, been Consider replacing the weak verb with an action verb: ex. He is exciting vs. He excites. If passive, consider placing the subject before the verb: ex. She was hit by the ball vs. The ball hit her.
Strategies to Improve Word Choice Read a variety of nonfiction genres Learn the discourse of your writing community (read discipline-specific articles, abstracts, reports) Replace clichés Replace unnecessary words or phrases. Replace “It is” or “There are” whenever possible. Ex. It is imperative that writers use engaging, effective language for academic writing. Better Ex. Writing for academic audiences requires the use of engaging, effective language.