Word Choice, Commonly Confused Words, Spelling WR

Word Choice, Commonly
Confused Words, & Spelling
Brenham Writing Room
Created by D. Herring
Word Choice Problems
• There are four common word
choice problems:
Vague and Abstract Words
Wordy & Redundant Language
1. Vague and abstract words
• Vague and abstract words
are too general. They
don’t provide readers with
a clear idea of your
That was a good movie.
I felt bad when I woke up.
The dog is small.
Sally won a lot of money at
the casino.
Vague and abstract words cont.
• Try to replace vague and abstract
words with concrete words or
specific words.
– A concrete word names something
that can be seen, heard, felt, tasted, or
• The movie had many plot twists.
• I was running a fever when I woke up.
– A specific word names a particular
individual or quality.
• The dog weighs only three pounds.
• Sally won five-thousand dollars at the
2. Wordy and Redundant Language
• Wordy language results from
using too many words to
express your thoughts.
– Incorrect (I): I haven’t picked a
major at this point in time.
– Correct (C): I haven’t picked a
major yet.
– I: Due to the fact that I don’t
feel well, I stayed home today.
– C: Because I don’t feel well, I
stayed home today.
Wordy and Redundant Language
• Redundant language
occurs when you use words
that say the same thing.
– I: He has reverted back to
– C: He has reverted to
– I: My two twins are
celebrating their birthday.
– C: My twins are celebrating
their birthday.
3. Clichés
• Clichés are phrases used
so often that people no
longer pay attention to
– Writing an “A” paper is easier
said than done.
– I’ll turn it in late, but it’s better
late than never.
• Avoid using clichés in
academic writing.
4. Slang
• Slang is informal and casual
language often shared by a
particular group.
– My mom chewed me out for
coming home late.
– I used to not get along with my
mom, but we’re cool now.
– I was bummed about my
midterm grade.
• The use of slang is
inappropriate in formal
Commonly Confused Words
• Homophones are words that sound
alike but have different meanings
and are spelled differently.
to, too, two
there, their, they’re
your vs. you’re
its vs. it’s
threw vs. through
• See comprehensive list on pp. 54544 in Little, Brown Handbook.
Strategies to Avoid Misused Words
• Proofread carefully!
– You can’t count on spell-check
to catch these words.
• Use a dictionary.
– Look up the words you aren’t
sure about; don’t guess!
• Develop a personal list of
words you often confuse!
– Consult your list and doublecheck for these words before
turning in any assignment.
• Misspelled words are
considered a serious error
in writing.
• Spelling errors leave a bad
impression; you are and will
continue to be judged by
your spelling!
• If you want to become a
better speller, you must
practice certain strategies.
Strategies for Improving Spelling
1. Watch for certain words
that are always spelled as
one word.
• cannot, nobody, anybody,
everybody, somebody,
somewhat, wherever,
worthwhile, anything,
Strategies for Improving Spelling
2. Master your own “personal
spelling demons.”
– Create memory aids.
– Break the word into parts or
say the word phonetically.
– Write the word correctly 10
– Take a spelling test.
Strategies for Improving Spelling
3. Master commonly
confused words.
• If you can master these
words, you can eliminate
many of your spelling errors.
• Use your handout as a tool.
4. Learn the six spelling rules!
• Use the handout on the
Writing Room website as a

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