In a good essay, everything should be in moderation: the correct style, appropriate tonality, competent presentation of information, and, most importantly, measure of words. In this article, you will find out why too many words can spoil an essay and how to avoid wordiness.
Why wordiness happens in essays
The main culprits for wordiness are described in the concepts of pleonasm and tautology:
Pleonasm is a turn of speech in which there is a duplication of some element of meaning; the presence of several linguistic forms expressing the same meaning within a complete segment of speech or text; as well as a linguistic expression in which there is such duplication.
Tautology is the repetition of the same words that are close in meaning.
Wordiness in an essay arises from using an excessive number of words to express thoughts – superfluous, repetitive, and similar. This happens more often in such cases:
- When the text is written in a formal and scientific style. It is for the scientific and official-business style that this problem is characteristic. Nevertheless, the reader would be glad to read the text in which the idea is stated clearly and concisely because the information is already difficult to perceive. When reading a long scientific article, you often want to condense all this material into three sentences. Fortunately, as a rule, essays are not written in this style.
- Limited vocabulary. Simply, the author does not know how else to express his or her thoughts and uses those speech patterns which are not appropriate semantically. A few examples of pleonasms from the colloquial speech: very large, ran fast, unexpected surprise, morning sunrise, meet for the first time, a crowd of people, get up upstairs, fall down, heavy snowfall, etc. If you don’t possess a large vocabulary, you’d better get help with your essay writing. Professional writing services offer cheap research papers, essays, and term papers which can serve as samples for your writing.
- A lot of “empty” words are used, also known as stop words and parasite words: strongly, weakly, very, absolutely, as much as possible, in our time, in fact, to be honest, so to speak, etc. Stop words or noise words do not carry useful information and specifics, they rather act as an amplifier for other, more important words. Instead of writing, “Just a huge office building was built near our house,” it is better to write, “A 50-story building was built near our house.”
- A huge number of gerund and adverbial expressions are used. Bad usage: “The car belonging to the owner, Mr. Smith, is in the garage.” Better usage: “Mr. Smith’s car is in the garage.”
- Many phrases can and should be shortened: at the present moment – now; make repairs – repair; we provide design services – we design; for installation – we install; for training – we train; must complete authorization – login.
- How to make the essay more informative and with fewer words
To remove wordiness from your essay, try to heed the following guidelines:
- Use fewer adjectives and adverbs. If possible, it is better to choose one word that will reflect both the meaning and the definition (heavy snow – snowfall; light wind – breeze).
- Find long sentences in your essay and try to shorten them while maintaining sensitivity.
- Read the essay out loud. Reading word by word, you will immediately understand what should be removed from the text. By ear, information is perceived differently than visually.
- Use active verbs instead of passive ones. The following examples first show the passive form, and then the better, active form:
The contract was signed by the secretary. The secretary signed the contract.
The room is lit by a lamp. A lamp is lighting the room.
The bill was paid by them. They paid the bill.
- Eliminate phrases that you use to reinforce your personal opinion: I think, I believe, in my opinion, I want to emphasize, etc.
- Along with adjectives and adverbs, avoid participles, and pronouns that do not supplement the characteristics of the noun to which they refer. For example:
A method is some set of operations used to solve a specific problem.
Techniques for constructing a model in accordance with the well-known laws of special sciences.
A person is depicted at a certain transitional moment in his emotional life.
Reproduction of the inner world of the human personality.
The quality of welding depends on the correctly selected mode.
- Avoid verbs or verbal nouns that convey an action expressed by a nearby verb or noun. For example successful implementation of coordination (instead of successful coordination); installation work (instead of installation); conditions necessary to carry out thermonuclear fusion in the laboratory (instead of the conditions for carrying out thermonuclear fusion in the laboratory). Words such as work, activity, and activities in combination with a preposition are superfluous. Examples: work on implementation (instead of implementation), activities on implementation (instead of implementation), activity on procurement (instead of purchase).
- Avoid nouns or verbs expressing actions that are not required for the subject. In the examples below, words are highlighted that, in terms of meaning, cannot act differently and cannot relate to other objects in another way. For example, All these features can be set with varying degrees of accuracy, depending on the purpose for which the calculation is made and the way it is done (instead of depending on the purpose and method of calculation); An operation is a way in which the actions are performed; Reduce time spent on manufacturing; Benefits that arise from the application; The requirements which are set for an employee are diverse.
- Avoid participles, adjectives, verbs, and nouns with the meaning of the presence or appearance of the described object (process). These are, as a rule, the words available, existing, taking place, observed, appeared, presented, a number of, etc. For example: Examples presented in the book show …; There are a number of libraries in the country that are characterized by high quantitative and qualitative indicators.
The process of removing wordiness and pleonasms from the text will take some time. But it’s worth it. The essay will become more readable, the information will be perceived more easily, and your reader will definitely like your paper.