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Author Topic: Writing Style: Awkwardness  (Read 571 times)

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Writing Style: Awkwardness
« on: March 29, 2017, 02:23:12 PM »
Though English is not a hard language to learn it is full of subtle peculiarities that gain tremendous gravity when we speak about formal writing. It is therefore quite easy to make a sentence or the whole paper be, as we call it, awkward or sound primitively. Usually, the editors or the quality control team send you a note where they state that the paper reads awkward or you tend to have primitive statements. This means that definite sentences in your paper did not work well. This guide will shed light into the topic of primitivity and awkwardness in writing, and explain what exactly did not go well, and what exactly was awkward.

Awkwardness in writing is a tendency to make your writing confusing and uncomfortable to read. Such awkward sentence or a paper makes the reader guess what exactly did the writer mean, which breaks the integrity of reading and the impression your writing makes. In order to avoid that, the writer should be aware of the following concepts:

A)    Parallelism.

Parallelism means expressing similar parts of a sentence in a consistent way. In other words, the elements that are similar in their function should be alike in construction too.

Wrong: She likes cooking, jogging, and to read. / She wants to learn English, to work hard, and becoming a good writer.

As you can see, the grammatical units in these sentences are not balanced. This makes the sentences sound awkward. Properly balancing parts of your sentence into a well-organized parallel construction improves readability and flow of your sentences.

Right: She likes cooking, jogging, and reading. / She wants to learn English, to work hard, and to become a good writer.

B)    Mixed construction.

When a sentence has mixed construction, the subject of the sentence does not match the verb or the verb does not match the object.

Wrong: A person taking on the role of a caregiver is a very demanding job.

Narrowing the sentence down to its core shows that something is wrong with the logic. The core of the sentence says, “A person is a job,” which is nonsense.

Right: A person taking on the role of caregiver has a very demanding job.

As you can see, a simple change of the verb is enough to fix the awkward construction.

C)    Nominalization.

Nominalization is a transformation of a verb or adjective into a noun. While such forms are acceptable in general, the sentence reads much easier and looks clear if you avoid unnecessary nominalization.

Wrong: Attempts at explanations for increases in voter participation in this year’s elections were made by the scholars.

Right: The scholars attempted to explain why more voters participated in this year’s elections.

As you can see, when the verbs and adjectives are not used as nouns the sentence reads much better.

Here is another example of an awkward nominalization:

Wrong: The indication of the results was that pH controlled the rate.

Right: The results indicated that pH controlled the rate.

D)    Passive voice.

Passive voice is a construction in which the subject of the sentence does not actually “do” anything, but has something “done” to it. Passive voice often comes with nominalization since in both cases, the person who actually takes action, is not in the subject position. Let’s take a look at the same example from the previous section:

Wrong: Attempts at explanations for increases in voter participation in this year’s elections were made by the scholars.

Place the doer in a subject position in order to correct the passive construction.

Right: The scholars attempted to explain why more voters participated in this year’s elections.

 E)     Wordiness.

Wordiness presumes more words than necessary to make a point. Usually wordy sentences are extremely redundant. In such awkward constructions, it is quite easy to make a number of mistakes.

This sentence comes directly from one of the essays we found during the general evaluation: “Over the past one decade, social media has recorded unprecedented and has had an immense impact on the way people interact.”

Do you like it? Neither do we. Definite writers believe it is a sign of a good style to use the largest polysyllabic words they can find; and that it is even better to use a lot of them. However, good writing is not about using the big words; it is about using the best words. And, as we always suggest, use simple language.