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  • Dr. V

Words Matter, so Choose Exact Ones

Many elements that strengthen academic writing have less to do with issues of right and wrong and more to do with issues of style, tone and word use. Writers must be intentional in the words they choose to articulate ideas, as the sentences below illustrate.


Sentence: South American countries HAVE SEEN a significant increase in refugees.


Edited Sentence: South American countries HAVE EXPERIENCED a significant increase in refugees.


Explanation: In terms of grammar, the above sentence is correct. However, the use of the phrase “have seen” does not capture the exact idea of the sentence though a reader will grasp the meaning of the sentence.


In the edited sentence, the verb phrase “have seen” is replaced with a more accurate verb phrase (“have experienced”). The act of “seeing” something makes one an observer while “experiencing” something makes one an active participant. Clearly, the use of “experience” more accurately communicates the meaning of the sentence.


When reviewing your writing, be sure the words you use, especially verbs and verb phrases, accurately convey your message.


Until next week, happy writing!!!


Dr. V

Writing Coach-Editor-Speaker

Author of I'm Not a Writer...I am Just in Graduate School (order your copy at https://www.amazon.com/Not-Writer-Just-Graduate-School/dp/1533392919)

Available in hard copy and on Kindle



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