These are popping up all over the place right now so we figured it would be good to do a quick post on them.
Someone wrote about how they worked at a bank and they had customers who “did not want to maintain high balances because there was no interest.”
Be careful of sneaky words that can mean different things in different contexts! That simple phrase “no interest” could mean “nobody wanted to do it” – or it could mean the money earned on an investment. In this case, the BSer meant the ACCOUNTS paid no interest, which is totally different to the customers not being interested in it.
This happens in “real world” writing too — sometimes intentional but often maybe not. In this article on movie theaters reopening during the coronavirus pandemic , a sentence read like so: “Even for those with cooperative colleagues [who comply with safety requirements and wear masks], some worries still plague service workers of all kinds.”
Is that word “plague” really the right one to use in an article about, err, the plague??? In that case, using “plague” as a verb seemed a bit off. It’s similar to what we shared last season on word choice affecting tone.
This can happen with these words as well:
- ally — because this word can be used as both a noun and a verb, you’ll want to be careful that you re-read the sentence where you’ve used it, to make sure it doesn’t trip the reader up when they’re cruising along in your essay
- terminal — this word doesn’t show up in many essays but it’s another one that has multiple meanings, and when we see it, it’s usually in a more technical context (describing some type of engineering process), which also means that extra care needs to be taken that the writing is easy to read for a non-technical outsider
- diverse — you want to be super careful about using this word nowadays. Are you referencing diversity as in socioeconomic or demographic aspects to a person’s identity? Or are you just using this word to mean “many different types”? If the latter, find another way to write it (but please do not say “various”!)
- the all-time trickiest one: sustainable — do you mean that it was eco-friendly and good for the environment? or that it was going to be something that the business could maintain and that the process would endure?
When you’re first writing your early drafts, you don’t necessarily need to focus on individual words in individual sentences. You’re just trying to get the ideas on the page.
However, as you start to have your topics defined and your stories taking shape, then you’ll want to turn your attention to how the sentences are formed, and what words you’re using to get your ideas into your reader’s head as they read.
If you’re stuck on that first part of the process – the Essay Ideas stage — our App Accelerator for Essay Outlines could be a big help! We explained how this service works in detail here if you’d like to learn more.
The moral of the story: Getting into your essay drafts at this point is a very good idea! Those deadlines are creeping up fast! Let us know if you think we can help at whatever stage of the journey you’re in!