Defining Precise Language and Vocabulary
Have you ever tried to explain something to someone, and you felt that your message was completely misunderstood? If you are writing down information and you want to make sure that the reader understands what you are trying to say, then you will want to make sure that you use precise language and vocabulary.
Being precise in your language means choosing the most appropriate, most specific word so that your message is clear and there is less of a chance that your reader will misunderstand you. For example, say that you were writing a how-to informative text to tell readers how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. In giving instructions on how to get the peanut butter onto the bread, you could use the word 'put' to tell how you get the peanut butter on the bread, but a more appropriate and specific word could be 'spread' because it tells the reader that the knife you had told them to use earlier in the text will be moving back and forth to spread the peanut butter, not just plop a big dollop of peanut butter on the bread.
How to Use Precise Language
An informative text is a text that conveys information to the reader. As already explained, precise language can be useful in making your informative text as clear as possible, so that the reader will understand your message. Here are some tips for using precise language and improving the clarity of your informative writing:
- Big, fancy words are overrated.
- We all like to feel smart and sometimes using long, fancy words that other people don't know or that are hard to pronounce makes us feel more intelligent. But often your message and meaning can become hidden in the forest of long, obscure words that no one can understand. Sometimes it is best to stay with the more plain and boring, but perhaps also clearer, words.
- Synonyms can be your enemy.
- A synonym is a word that means nearly the same thing as another word. Sometimes when people want to add variety to their writing, they look for synonyms for a word. But beware of this: sometimes in replacing a boring, but clear word with a synonym, you might not realize that the synonym means almost the same thing, but has a slightly different meaning and may change the meaning you wanted to create.
- Avoid jargon.
- Jargon is a term for words that are used and understood by a particular group. For example, engineers will have specific names for things that other people might not know about; those words are engineering jargon that is understood by the group of engineers. The problem with jargon is that for people outside the group, it can be difficult to understand what the words mean. It is better to avoid using jargon, or if you have to use jargon, then make sure to define the word so that people who do not understand the jargon can know what the word means.
This lesson has discussed precise language to help you choose the most appropriate words for writing a clear informative text. The tips that will help you the most to use precise language in your writing are avoiding long, fancy words; being wary of synonyms; and avoiding jargon. If you follow these three rules, you will be well on your way to writing with precise language.
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