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How to strengthen your vocabulary

Red Pen Bristol editors will often spend some time with a text trying to improve the vocabulary used, if possible. Using specific verbs, in particular, instantly makes a sentence more interesting and conveys far more information in a clear way. We often see cases where a very vague verb has been used and try to look for ways to more clearly state the facts being stated.


For instance, a common issue is the lack of clarity with “get”: ‘The researchers got results’, for example, could mean they obtained the results themselves, that they looked up the results, that they understood the results, etc. This lack of clarity makes it hard for us to know what’s meant, and therefore clearly makes it harder for other readers to see your meaning. Using specific and pointed verbs can really help readers to clearly understand your meaning.


When possible, RPB editors will swap a less descriptive verb for a more specific one, but we aren’t always able to tell what you mean. As in the above example, the meaning is unclear and if we can’t tell the appropriate verb from the context, we may just leave a comment letting you know that there is a need for more clarity in a particular sentence.


Another issue is adverbs, such as “very.” We see these a lot, and they are often unnecessary. Try to use very specific words as opposed to just intensifying a description by saying “very”. For instance, “very critical” is redundant, because “critical” conveys that the subject in question is extremely serious.