If you are looking for fancy words for your essay, then watch this video to find out how some students do it the wrong way and what to do instead.
I am Tutor Phil, and in this video I’ll show you how NOT to use fancy words in essay writing. Here’s an example from a college level essay:
“The author’s argument exemplifies his claim and support to increase ‘meritocracy’ and ‘nepotism.'”
It sure sounds fancy, but does it really make sense, meaning, will your professor be impressed with it? Let’s analyze this sentence and see where this student might have gone wrong.
First, I like that the sentence begins with the subject – “the author’s argument.” That’s the good part. So, we know that we’re talking about the author’s argument – we’re obviously writing about another piece of writing – an article, a book, or a piece of research. That’s good.
Now, let’s look at the VERB in the sentence: “exemplifies.” Now, this word means that it is an example. To exemplify means “to be an example.” Is there a problem with that? Well, remember, an argument is usually supported with examples. Which means that the main argument itself is not an example. It is supported by examples, but it’s not an example. So, the use of the word “exemplifies” really doesn’t work here. But let’s continue.
What about the Object in the sentence? Well, the Object is “his claim,” meaning the author’s claim. Can this be right? Let me ask you a question – what is the difference between an argument and a claim? If you look up these words, you’ll find that they are synonymous. Meaning, an argument is almost the same thing as a claim. So, if you try to translate this part of the sentence into plain English, you’ll get something like “the author’s main point is an example of his point.” That’s pretty much what you get so far.
Now, what is another Object here – it is the word “support.” Add that to the sentence, and here’s what you get “the author’s main point is an example of his point and his support.”
Do you see how easy it is to completely obscure the meaning of what you’re trying to say? How easy it is to confuse the heck out of your reader? This sentence really makes no sense.
I won’t go into the rest of it about “meritocracy” and “nepotism.” I’ll just say that they are opposites of each other, and you can’t increase both at the same time. When one goes up, the other goes down.
So, what is your big takeaway from this so far? The lesson is:
In your writing only use the words that you know, words that are a part of your working vocabulary.
So let’s rewrite this sentence assuming that we know what this student really meant. Let’s try it.
Here’s the original again: “The author’s argument exemplifies his claim and support to increase ‘meritocracy’ and ‘nepotism.'”
And now let’s rewrite it so that it would actually make sense:
“The author presents an argument in favor of ‘meritocracy’ and against ‘nepotism.'”
Now, what do you think about this new sentence? Is it more clear? Is it easier to understand? Of course it is. And why is that? Because we rewrote this sentence without trying to be fancy.
So, again, remember – stop looking for fancy words for your essay and just say what you want to say in plain English. If you do, you’ll make much more sense to your professor and get higher grades. The best way to impress your professor is not to try to do so with fancy words.
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