Writing Understandable

Decent Essays
How to Write Understandably We’ve all been there. Somebody gives us a paper to peer-review and it’s practically written in Greek. Eager to demonstrate their mastery of English, the author includes sentences like “The intentional obfuscation of one’s premeditation leads invariably to the unfortunate mystification of one’s readership.” What? (In plain English, this sentence means “Using big words to hide your purpose will confuse your reader.”) Spelling errors can hamper your reader’s ability to understand your writing, but so can overwriting your paper. Bloated sentences and big words may lose your reader. If your grammar is too sophisticated for your intended audience, it will backfire. It doesn’t make you look smart to write like that. It…show more content…
Passive sentences use actions that happen to the subject, not actions the subject performs. Examples of passive voice include “The comet was discovered by the scientists,” and “A fire was contained in the canyon.” To make your sentence active, swap the subject (the comet) and the prepositional phrase (the scientists), and remove the filler that’s left (“The scientists discovered the comet.”). You can also add a new subject instead of implying it (“Firefighters contained a fire in the canyon.”). Passive sentences are generally wordier that active sentences, and they’re less clear. However, they are useful when the recipient of an action is more important than the doer of it; for example, “Pit bulls have received a lot of negative publicity,” flows better in passive…show more content…
Too many short sentences can make your essay sound choppy and disjointed, while too many long sentences will make it hard to follow your points. There’s no hard and fast rule for when a sentence must be long and when it must be short, but if your problem is using choppy sentences then consider combining them when you edit your paper. If they’re too long, look for sentences you can split up. Stay away from “zombie nouns.” A “zombie noun,” known formally as a nominalization, is an adjective, verb, or adverb that has been turned into a noun by the addition of –ation, -ing, -ness, or another suffix. Examples include “understanding,” “creation,” and “recklessness.” They’re called zombies because according to linguist Helen Sword, “they cannibalize active verbs, suck the lifeblood from adjectives and substitute abstract entites for human beings.” These words aren’t always bad, but overusing them will quickly confuse your readers, because nominalizations don’t often have subjects attached to them. To cure a zombie epidemic, remove the nominalization and add a subject. Helen Sword provides the following example:
The proliferation of nominalizations in a discursive formation may be an indication of a tendency toward pomposity and
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