“Words cut deeper than swords.” Well, we are not encouraging violence, but the point of this statement is that words can be used to manipulate human emotions, which is technically worse than causing physical wounds. In fact, some great wars in the world have been won with words, not with weapons or soldiers. Such is the power of words. For a student, exams and assignments are nothing less than a battle, and if you want to succeed in this encounter, you need to choose the most suitable words for you essay assignment (or exam paper), just like a swordsman needs to choose his mightiest sword for a battle.
Achieving higher grades is no easy task. You need to come up with the amazing ideas for your text, construct an impeccable essay, stick to the guidelines, and do some serious research – all these to do what? Only to impress your professor. You need to understand one thing. Your professors are just as human as everyone else. And they can also be impressed with the impeccable use of words, whenever you want. As mentioned before, words are really powerful, and if you want your ideas to put across the table, you need to choose the correct set of words to convince your audience.
In this blog, we will discuss 10 of the most effective ways to choose the right set of words for your essay. So let’s get started with it.
- Stop the use of slangs and contractions
As an essay writer, you need to understand the fact that academic writing is different from the way you write your blogs or usually converse in day-to-day life. There is a formal tone in an academic content, and there is no place for slang words or phrases like “feeling blue”, “getting under your skin”, or “frying your brain”. These may make your blogs more interesting, but when it comes to writing an essay, you should avoid the use of such words, terms or slangs. Also, do not use contractions such as don’t, won’t, they’ve, I’d, etc. These sounds informal, and it will certainly not help you to make your grades fly high. Also get rid of the colloquial terms such as bunk, fetch, reckon from your essay if you are trying to impress your professor.
- Use your words to convey, not to sound smart
When you are writing an essay, you need to keep one thing in mind: it is for the readers. So you need to make use of those words that make sense and sound best to your readers, not only to you. As an essay writer, you need to understand what your readers are expecting from your essay. If you think your audience expects you to sound smart by using complicated jargons and technical terms, then you are completely wrong. The idea of an essay is to communicate your arguments or facts clearly and convincingly. So, it is wiser to choose those words that are easily understandable.
At times, students assume that simple words signify simple and ordinary thoughts. If you are being able to connect every dot of your arguments with valid information, then even the simplest form of content can bring you desired results. There’s a particular format for all sorts of academic content, and you need to adhere to that formatting style without fail. If you are unaware of these formats and still hung up on sounding smart, there’s a chance that you may end up forming some complicated content which your readers may not be able to understand.
- Smart use of transition words
In order to maintain flow and coherence to your essay, you need to work on the transitioning of concepts (or paragraphs). You can’t just end an argument abruptly and introduce a new one without a smooth transition. It becomes quite harder for the readers to continue with the essay if the flow of words is disrupted every now and then. The best way to connect two disconnected arguments (or even paragraphs) is by using the proper transition words. They help maintain the continuity of the essay and also introduce the new argument taking a cue from the last one. There are plenty of transitions words, and with practice, you’ll get to understand which word is best suited to join the gap between two separate arguments (or ideas and paragraphs). “However”, “Nevertheless”, “Furthermore”, “Although”, “On the contrary”, etc. are a few examples of these transition words. In fact, every great writer employs these transition words to make their content flow smoothly.
- Avoid unclear and vague words
As mentioned before, the point of an essay is to convey your ideas to the readers in the most comprehensive way. If the readers don’t understand what you are trying to convey, then your whole effort becomes pointless. Again, it is very much important to remember that the essay is being written for certain audiences so writing things, which you only understand is not good enough. You need to make it clear for the readers as well. There can be misused words, unwanted connotations or even jargons that can confuse the readers. Note these examples:
- Thomas was loved by many, but his brother hated him. He died without the knowledge.
- The soldiers took shelter in their private places.
These aforementioned lines might have meant something else, but while reading them, you may get some different meaning as they were presented in such fashion. A more comprehensive version of these sentences would be:
- Thomas was loved by many, but he died without the knowledge of his brother’s hatred for him.
- The soldiers took shelter in their hiding places.
In the first example, it was unclear who died and without what knowledge. In the revised version, we understood that Thomas died without knowing that his brother hated him. In the second example, the term “private places” was used to mean “hiding places”, but “private places” meant something else to you. So, it is important to avoid such unclear and vague words that may confuse the readers and to make proper use of the prepositions to communicate your ideas.
- Don’t repeat the same words (or phrases)
When you are writing a long text, repetition of the same word is bound to happen. The theme of your essay does not change throughout the content. So, it is reasonable if a word has been found in the text more than a couple of times. But using the same words (or phrases) in short spaces can make the essay monotonous and dull. We certainly don’t like to watch a movie that is full of clichés, do we? Same goes for the essays or any text for that matter. When you go on repeating the same words for several times, it loses its significance and creates a roadblock in the flow of words. Try to recognise these clichés and come up with the alternatives that can eliminate the monotony from your essay without changing the essence of your writing.
- Get rid of redundant terms
While we are talking about repetition in the text, let’s talk about something which is pretty similar to repetition, but not quite. Redundancy is using two or more words that mean the same thing. These redundant terms are unnecessary, and they only increase your word count without adding any significance to the content. To get an A+ for your essay, you need to be careful about such mistakes. Here are some examples of common redundancies:
- Basic fundamentals
- Brief summary
- Introducing a new
- Exact same
- Armed gunman
As you can see, in these aforementioned examples, every word in each pair meant the same thing as the other word in the set. Instead of writing “fundamentals”, just write “fundamentals”, and it will convey the same message. Write “summary” in place of “brief summary”, and it will still mean the same thing.
- Steer clear of wordiness
As we learn about redundancy, it is also important to know something similar in this context – wordiness. Just like redundancy, wordiness also causes the unnecessary addition of content to your essay. It may seem like you are adding a flair in your writing by creating playing with wordiness, but in reality, you are just confusing the readers with needless words. With wordiness, the sentences get too complex to read. These words and phrases that cause wordiness do add colour to the language, but that is not needed in academic content. Instead of focusing on adding colours to your language, try to make your essay more easy-to-read and more impactful, so there’s no room for confusion or misinterpretation. Here are some examples of wordy phrases along with their shorter alternatives.
|Last but not the least||Last|
|In order to||To|
|As a matter of fact||In fact|
|Agree to disagree||Disagree|
|Concerning the matter of||About|
|Regardless of the fact that||Although|
Go through your essay and see if you can find such wordy constructions in your writing. If you do find such set of words, try to replace them with concise words or phrases.
- Use strong nouns and verbs
While writing their essays students often put stress on the adjectives to make the nouns and verbs more convincing. Well, if you are going to write an essay, it will be better if you use accurate and strong nouns and verbs that sound convincing on their own. Adjectives are important, but their part comes later. Note this example: “Don’t use his good gadget in his absence.” Do you get a clear idea of the situation with this set of words? Perhaps not. Maybe “good” is not the best adjective to use in this context, but we can keep that aside. Don’t you think the verb “use” and the noun “gadget” could be stronger and more specific? How about some alteration? “Don’t play video games on his new laptop in his absence.” It makes more sense and provides us with better information.
- Limit the use of the pronoun “I”
It is okay to add a personal touch to the essay by revealing your opinions on the topic in hand. But that does not mean you can make this a casual conversation between you and the readers and keep on using “I” in every 3rd or 5th sentences. The repetition of the same pronoun “I” not only creates monotony, but it also makes the sentences look stunted and unpolished. You can use the first person in the essay to convey your arguments, but instead of using “I” in every paragraph, try to incorporate other self-referring pronouns, such as “me”, “my” and “mine”.
- Fill your essay with confident words
To make your essay sound more convincing to the readers you need to use a confident tone in your writing. The use of the first person in your writing is surely one way to execute the idea, but there are various other ways to make your argument sound more convincing and confident through your essay. In fact, there are plenty of words that can lend credibility and confidence to your content. However, there are some words which can do the exact opposite to your content. Take the following sentence for instance:
“Perhaps elements like these don’t really matter to the organisation”. – This sentence has several uncertainties. Note the words “perhaps”, “like these” and “don’t really”. These words do not promote credible and confident information. If you continue using such words, it is surely going to be a turn off for the readers. Put yourself in the chair of a reader and read that line. Do you find it convincing? I guess the answer is “NO”.
Now read this next line and see the difference. “These two factors do not concern the organisation.” It does sound convincing, doesn’t it? It is concrete, there are no loopholes, and most importantly it states the fact confidently. You need to put right words in the right order with the right timing to make the impact. Use strong and confident words to fill your text. It does make your essay look better. So be more careful while choosing the words.
All these tips can be little overwhelming in the beginning, so instead of deploying these tricks in essay all at once, use a strategy to choose the right set of words for your essay.
- Don’t rely too much on the thesaurus, and certainly don’t trust it blindly. It does provide you with the synonyms of certain words, but it may not always suggest you the right synonym. The suggestions that the thesaurus makes may have a different connotation than the one you are looking for, or it may not be appropriate for the context of your sentence.
- Skip the unfamiliar words. If you don’t know the meaning of a particular word, it is wiser to avoid it, or you may change the entire meaning of the sentence. Take the help of a dictionary to understand the word if it seems necessary.
- Look for repetition in your essay. See if it is appropriate for the given context and helping the sentence to be more meaningful, then only keep it. If it is due to redundancy, laziness or an honest mistake, replace them with meaningful alternatives.
- Read the content of your essay to your friend, roommate or a family member or you can do it alone. See if the words make complete sense to you and the listener. If something sounds confusing to you or the listener, don’t hesitate to rewrite and make it more graspable.
- Hand the paper to someone novice who has the least amount of knowledge about the topic and ask them if they find any word or sentence confusing. Don’t underestimate his/her opinion just because that person doesn’t have any knowledge about the issue. Take his view into consideration and rewrite the words (or sentences) so that your argument is understood by everyone.
A wise person once said, “Practice makes a man perfect”. So keep working on your writing skills and employ these aforementioned tricks and strategies in the process to get the best results. Initially, these all may look a bit intimidating, but with practice, it all gets a lot easier. Experts suggest the use of some helpful apps and tools like Hemingway editor or Grammarly which can help you proofread your copy and provide some useful suggestions if they detect any mistakes in the content. And lastly, don’t leave your essay for the eleventh hour. It is a crucial part of your curriculum. So give it the attention it needs and put your best effort in writing the essay.
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