Collect words from other references
Some people learn many writing principles but cannot readily apply these principles. The main obstacle is they cannot always retrieve the right word from their memory. Problems with retrieving the right word compromises their capacity to write fluently and effectively. This section is designed to address this problem.
3.1 Read some of the references you have collected. While you read these materials
- identify over 50 words—or phrases that comprise two or three words—that you do not use in everyday speech but could be useful in your work
- record these words or phrases in your working document
- specifically, if possible, insert these words or phrases immediately after one of your sentences; choose a sentence that might be vaguely related to this word
- suppose your word is alleviate
- you might insert this word after the following sentence
This finding is consistent with the notion that humility diminishes personal doubts.
- the reason is that alleviate and diminish are related;
- consequently, a sentence that comprises alleviate and a sentence that comprises diminish might later appear in the same paragraph
3.2 Identify at least 20 more words, or phrases that comprise two or three words, from the following sentences. Again, insert these words or phrases immediately after one of your sentences.
3.3 Convert all the words or phrases you collected into short sentences. That is, if possible, write a sentence that could extend or clarify the previous sentence. For example
- to use the word alleviate after the sentence This finding is consistent with the notion that humility diminishes personal doubts, you might write
Humility can alleviate unpleasant memories of past failures.
3.4 At the top of your Working Document is a table of recommendations you will learn during this course. To improve the sentences you have written, apply all the recommendations that corresponds to a 2 in this table
Words that elicit caution
Although some words may be helpful, other words, although valid, should be used with caution. These words, such as the words impact, only, and there, are often used incorrectly. To illustrate
- in previous decades, many writers assumed the word impact is always a noun and is usually followed by the word of. For example, people might examine the impact of some initiative.
- these writers did not believe the word impact should be used as a verb. For instance, they criticised sentences like this initiative impacted their emotions.
- although the use of this word has changed, to satisfy traditional writers, perhaps use the word impact as a noun
More disconcertingly, however, words like impact, affect, and influence do not specify the direction of some relationship. For example, this program affects health is not as informative as this program impairs health or this program enhances health. That is, whenever possible, indicate whether the relationship is positive or negative. Otherwise, your sentences may be too vague.
3.5 In your sentences, search terms like impact, affect, or influence
- check the word impact is a noun—and is usually preceded by the word of
- if appropriate, replace the word impact, affect, or influence with a word that specifies whether the relationship is positive or negative
- sample words include enhance, improve, promote, foster, impair, compromise, and undermine
3.6 If possible, insert the word only immediately before the term that needs to be modified. When inserted in the wrong spot, the sentence may be misconstrued. For example
- he ate only one biscuit is correct, but
- he only ate one biscuit indicates he ate, rather than initiated another act, on a biscuit.
Therefore, search the term only in your sentences. Shift the word only to the correct location in the sentence.
3.7 The word there often indicates the sentence could be more concise or precise. For example
- There are researchers who claim that coffee is healthy could be reduced to Researchers claim that coffee is healthy
- There has been an increase in obesity levels could be reduced to Obesity levels have increased
Accordingly, search the term there in your sentences. If possible, rewrite the sentence to exclude this word.