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Use strong language

If you’re writing a formal report, you need to use formal language. Weak verbs and intensifiers sound wishy-washy and can undermine the quality of your writing. 

Weak verbs

  • to be, to do, to have, to get, to share

The verb “to be” is ubiquitous, and associated with the passive voice and impersonal beginnings, such as “it is” or “there is”. You’ll also find it in long noun phrases, where a dynamic verb would be better:

“The objective of the project is the development of a new system of water management.”

Better:  “The project aims to develop a new system of water management.”

Although commonly heard in spoken language, the verb “to share” is vague:  “I shared my document with the relevant parties.” (What exactly did you do with it?  Cut it into pieces and distribute it?). 

Weak intensifiers

  • very, quite, rather, really, considerably, extremely

When we encounter one of these, we tend to read over it as a meaningless word, because it comes across as subjective.  

Rather, very, little, pretty–these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words.  (William Strunk, Jr., and E.B. White, The Elements of Style. 1972)

Suggested tool

Try out Wordtune – a free Artificial Intelligence tool. It will give you many options to redraft your sentences.

Carol Waites (PhD)
For more writing tips, consult my website:
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