As the famous band, Bee Gees would say –
“It’s only words, and words are all
I have to take your heart away."
No, no. You don’t have to take your professor’s heart away with the words you say. But you got to impress him with the words you write. And that means putting a lot of extra thought and effort into your essay. You’ll have to analyze your paper on a microscopic level to see if the words you’ve used have selected come from the list of the choicest terms in the English language. Now that is no easy task. But you cannot get deterred by the challenge it presents as using the correct locution is more important than you think it is.
Let’s hark back to what the Bee Gees are trying to tell us. Words are how we communicate, how we put our ideas across and how we convince our audience to accept our ideas without hurting their sentiments – whether we’re speaking our words out loud or quietly putting them down in paper (obviously irrespective of the topic you chose). That’s what makes it an all the more important element for your essay, as here’s where you have to drive your point in the most acceptable way possible, to reveal your knowledge and authority over the subject in question at the same time, and only words can help you do that.
The good news, though, is that in this post, we’ll be teaching you ways on how you can pick those words that drive your point without altering the context or without confusing or offending your readers. All it will need at your end is, practice, patience and attention to detail- all in all this the success formula of great/quality/good essay writing.
1. Never use Slang or Colloquial Terms
That is, until and unless you’re directly quoting someone whose utterances can make your essay richer. If you’re not, you are not allowed to use contractions such as “don’t, can’t, won’t” etc., any slang words or phrases such as “feeling blue, couch potato, down to earth, cold shoulder” etc., and colloquial terms such as “fetch, reckon, yonder” etc. While these may be great for blogging, they're not going to help you in academic writing. This is because of informal language, as these three can be collectively termed, take away from the credibility of your essay, and make you come off as insincere and callous in your approach.
2. Avoid Awkward, Unclear and Vague Words
Remember that the words you use in your mind to explain things to yourself may not always be clear or even appropriate for the understanding of others. For it to make perfect sense to your readers (and to escape the word ‘awkward' written in margins when you get your paper back), you have to re-read what you've written and check if the ideas are not clashing. Let us illustrate with the help of a simple example. Take a look at the two sentences below
“Having completed their homework, the pastries were gulped down.”
“Having completed their homework, the children ate the pastries.”
Read the sentences, and you'll see that the first one appears all jumbled up even though it follows the trail of your thought. The second one, on the other hand, is crystal clear in meaning and conveys the same idea as the previous sentence, only in more lucid sans awkwardness and vagueness.
Clarity is also an issue that you can face if you use the wrong words. Take a look at this example -
“I got rats out of their private places with the help of cheese.”
“I got the rats out of their hiding places with the help of cheese.”
‘Private places’ has a completely different meaning than ‘hiding places’ and doesn’t fit into the context, leading to confusion among the reader. So be mindful of the words you use, and take essay help if you don’t understand where you’re going wrong.
3. Repetition is a Big No-No
Repetition is commonplace in an essay. After all, those odd 500-1000 words are all going to focus on the one central idea that is the theme of your paper. The bad thing about repetition is that the use of same words in short spaces make them appear as clichés. Such words lose all meaning and become tiresome to read. But don't be alarmed just yet. You don't have to change thematic words, as it is expected that they will appear more than once throughout the length of the paper, as will conjunctions, prepositions and articles. What you have to change are the terms you’re habituated to using often. For example, you may have used ‘thus’ every time you were concluding a sentence. Instead, you should write ‘hence’ and ‘therefore’ in certain places. You can check out the step-by-step essay writing guide we have on our website to get a clearer picture.
4. Redundancy is, Well, Redundant
Using redundant terms is one of the commonest mistakes you may be making unconsciously. Redundant words are slightly different from repetitive words. In repetition, you’re using the same words or saying the same things over and over again like you’re a hypnotist casting his spell. Redundancy is using unnecessary words where they’re not needed at all, and the sentence would make perfect sense (in fact, more sense) without it. Here are a few sentences to offer clarity. The bolded words are necessary elements, while the italicized ones are just fluff added to increase the word count.
“It is completely vital that you take your medicines.”
“This is the exact same dish I had yesterday.”
“This is really amazing.”
“An armed gunman shot 16 people dead.”
As you can see, if we remove the words ‘completely', ‘exact', ‘really' and ‘armed' from their respective sentences, each of them would still make perfect sense without these terms. By putting an end to using terms just for the heck of it, you can eliminate redundancy from your writing.
5. Don’t begin Every Paragraph with the Pronoun ‘I’
While adding a personal touch to your essay is a good thing since it can help in revealing your opinions on the given topic, but you cannot treat like a piece of conversation and keep on writing ‘I' over and over again. Adopt a more straightforward approach instead. Using so many ‘I's will make your sentences look stunted, and your language will appear unsophisticated. Not only that, you run the risk of sounding highly conceited too. If you must use self-referring pronouns, keep altering between ‘me', ‘my' and the like to keep it clean and self-centric.
6. Populate your Essay with Confident Words
‘I’ is not the only way of writing in a confident tone. There are several powerful words that can lend strength and credibility to your write-up. And then there are many that can take away the same strength and credibility from your paper. Before we tell you all about the powerful words, let us tell you about the weak ones.
“Maybe the few problems enlisted will not make much of a difference to the solution.”
Do you find the above sentence to be convincing? Forget that, do you even think its reading? The honest answer will be a resounding NO. The feeble language made use of here (read: maybe, few, much of a difference) is an instant turn off, and one that will put off any reader, including you.
Now sample this:
“The two problems enlisted will not have any effect on the solution.”
That’s better. Now it sounds concrete. It sounds confident. A solid point has been made here. These are the right words in the right order at the right time. Specific verbs can achieve the same effect. So instead of using show, say or report, we suggest you use maintain, demonstrate, conclude, outline and note to assert your point in your essay. And just as powerful words can make your essay look better, so can strong evidence to back up your arguments, so choose your data carefully.
7. Employ Suitable Transitions to Progress from One Concept to the Concept
Transitioning is one place where most of you falter. Moving from one concept to the other seems really difficult, and you just don’t understand how to connect the dots between two apparently disconnected ideas (or even paragraphs for that matter). However, these transitions are intrinsic to the development of your essay and help in providing a flow and coherence to your write-up. They make your trail of thought apparent and maintain continuity in your article. Ask any professional writer and he’ll tell you that using appropriate transitions is really important. Phrases like ‘on the other hand’, ‘on the contrary’ and words like ‘also’, ‘however’ and ‘but’ can be very effective in creating the transition that you desire. For example –
“Keats talks about the ripeness and abundance of life, with the season being a symbol in his Ode to Autumn. On the other hand, in the closing lines, he introduces the rather morose concept of death.”
8. Ensure you’re Using the Words in their Right Connotation
There are so many synonyms out there for each and every word that you can’t be blamed for failing to understand which ones to use so that the sentence makes perfect sense. To know if you've made the right choice you have to understand the connotation of the word. This means stripping the word of its mechanical, technical meaning an attaching an emotional response to it. For example, if we give you a choice between two words – home and house – you'll instantly associate ‘house' with a building, and ‘home' with that warm place where you get a safe haven. Connotations can make a big difference, as you can see, and in fact, can help in reinforcing your point. So when you're in doubt, use a thesaurus and select the best word from the menagerie presented as you do not want to make a silly mistake in your college essay.
9. Keep it Simple and Precise
Sure, technical jargon and big words sound attractive to you, and you feel like a smart person using them. The sad part is your professor doesn’t think the same, and if you were trying to impress him by this tactic, you have unfortunately failed. Your audience doesn’t want a dictionary as a constant companion when reading what you've written. Moreover, such eruditeness has the air of haughtiness, and that's not what you want your readers to think of you. However, if you're writing for a hoity-toity audience, this style of writing would be appropriate, but that's not the case in college. So if you’re writing –
“The actual aortic pump of the homo sapiens does not bear any semblance to the one popularized by the media.”
You’re confusing your readers. But if you write –
“The human heart does not look anything like the shape that has been popularized by the media.”
You’re driving your point in a clear manner with the use of simple and precise words.
10. Avoid Wordiness
Wordiness is like a cousin to redundancy, and is as useless its brethren over here; used for the very same purpose of adding words to so you can reach the set target without struggling to find new points to add. But wordiness is quite jarring. It makes the sentences too complex to read. While you can argue that such phrases and idioms add color to the language, they are not an essential part of academic writing and are completely uncalled-for. Instead, what you should do is constantly eliminate words to write stronger, punchier sentences so that the essay is easy to read and there’s no question of misinterpretation. Let us show you by contrast what we’re trying to explain-
Read these –
“I am of the opinion that…” “I think…”
“In accordance with the rules…” “According to the rules…”
The sentences on the left have extra words that make it a difficult read. The sentences on the right look much cleaner without the extras and are super simple to comprehend.
We know all this is too much to take in. But the entire process of word selection can be so much easier if you just employ these strategies -
• Never use unfamiliar words. If you don’t know the meaning, look it up in a dictionary.
• If you get stuck while writing and just don’t understand which word to pick, make use of the slash (/) and put in all the alternatives you’re considering in your sentence. Then choose the one that makes the most sense.
• Don’t ever blindly use a thesaurus as not all the synonyms will be appropriate for the context of your sentence. Check for examples of the words being used in sentences to be sure.
• When you’re editing, make a list of all the repeated words, and look for alternatives to them, jotting down the alternatives too on the same paper. The purpose of making this list is that by writing it down, you’ll most likely not make the same mistake in future papers. But be cautious and don’t replace thematic words.
• Write your thesis statement in at least three separate ways and then pick the most effective version and include it in your paper. This way you’ll understand on your own how to write efficiently and effectively.
If all of it still seems a bit too confusing or overwhelming, you can always take help. We suggest certain apps and tools such as Grammarly and Hemmingway Editor that proofread your copy and provide relevant word suggestions if they detect any mistakes in your writing. You can also get your paper proofread by your friends and family (the more, the merrier), as each of them will have different suggestions, which you can incorporate in your essay. Finally, don’t treat your essay as a boring chore as that’ll reflect in your writing. Don’t get too nervous either, and give it your best shot.
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