24 complex words—and their simpler alternatives

As a general rule, writers should use simple words in the place of complex ones. Otherwise, readers are often confused. Here are two dozen examples.

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Years spent editing articles written by attorneys (whose writing is purposefully vague) and physicians (whose writing is full of specialized language) have taught me the value of using simple words in place of complex ones.

The use of unfamiliar or complex terms interferes with comprehension and slows readers down. Readers may even skip terms they don’t understand, hoping to find their meaning in the rest of the sentence.

Readers are not impressed by the use of complex words; they’re frustrated by them.

Take “use” and “utilize.” According to the Oxford Dictionaries, the word “use” means, “take, hold, or deploy (something) as a means of accomplishing a purpose or achieving a result.” While “utilize” means to “make practical and effective use of.” And though there is a distinction between the two words, there is rarely an occasion to use “utilize” instead of “use.”

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