Skip to main content

Use simple words and phrases

When you’re making word choices, pick the familiar or commonly used word over the unusual or obscure. There are many lists of complex words and suggested substitutes, like the one below. See also the lists in Kimble (2006).

Bold marks the dirty dozen, the 12 offenders most likely to weaken your work.

Don’t say Say
a and/or b a or b or both
accompany go with
accomplish carry out, do
accorded given
accordingly so
accrue add, gain
accurate correct, exact, right
additional added, more, other
address discuss
addressees you
addressees are requested (omit), please
adjacent to next to
advantageous helpful
adversely impact on hurt, set back
advise recommend, tell
afford an opportunity allow, let
aircraft plane
allocate divide
anticipate expect
a number of some
apparent clear, plain
appreciable many
appropriate (omit), proper, right
approximate about
arrive onboard arrive
as a means of to
ascertain find out, learn
as prescribed by in, under
assist, assistance aid, help
attain meet
attempt try
at the present time at present, now
be advised (omit)
benefit help
by means of by, with
capability ability
caveat warning
close proximity near
combat environment combat
combined joint
commence begin, start
comply with follow
component part
comprise form, include, make up
concerning about, on
consequently so
consolidate combine, join, merge
constitutes is, forms, makes up
contains has
convene meet
currently (omit), now
deem believe, consider, think
delete cut, drop
demonstrate prove, show
depart leave
designate appoint, choose, name
desire want, wish
determine decide, figure, find
disclose show
discontinue drop, stop
disseminate give, issue, pass, send
due to the fact that due to, since
during the period during
effect modifications make changes
elect choose, pick
eliminate cut, drop, end
employ use
encounter meet
endeavor try
ensure make sure
enumerate count
equipments equipment
equitable fair
establish set up, prove, show
evidenced showed
evident clear
exhibit show
expedite hasten, speed up
expeditious fast, quick
expend spend
expertise ability
expiration end
facilitate ease, help
failed to didn’t
feasible can be done, workable
females women
finalize complete, finish
for a period of for
for example,______etc. for example, such as
forfeit give up, lose
forward send
frequently often
function act, role, work
furnish give, send
has a requirement for needs
herein here
heretofore until now
herewith below, here
however but
identical same
identify find, name, show
immediately at once
impacted affected, changed
implement carry out, start
in accordance with by, following, per, under
in addition also, besides, too
in an effort to to
inasmuch as since
in a timely manner on time, promptly
inception start
incumbent upon must
indicate show, write down
indication sign
initial first
initiate start
in lieu of instead
in order that for, so
in order to to
in regard to about, concerning, on
in relation to about, with, to
inter alia (omit)
interface meet, work with
interpose no objection don’t object
in the amount of for
in the event of if
in the near future shortly, soon
in the process of (omit)
in view of since
in view of the above so
is applicable to applies to
is authorized to may
is in consonance with agrees with, follows
is responsible for (omit) handles
it appears seems
it is (omit)
it is essential must, need to
it is requested please, we request, I request
liaison discussion
limited number limits
magnitude size
maintain keep, support
maximum greatest, largest, most
methodology method
minimize decrease, method
minimum least, smallest
modify change
monitor check, watch
necessitate cause, need
notify let know, tell
not later than 10 May by 10 May, before 11 May
not later than 1600 by 1600
notwithstanding inspite of, still
numerous many
objective aim, goal
obligate bind, compel
observe see
on a regular basis (omit)
operate run, use, work
optimum best, greatest, most
option choice, way
parameters limits
participate take part
perform do
permit let
pertaining to about, of, on
portion part
possess have, own
practicable practical
preclude prevent
previous earlier
previously before
prioritize rank
prior to before
proceed do, go ahead, try
procure (omit)
proficiency skill
promulgate issue, publish
provide give, offer, say
provided that if
provides guidance for guides
purchase buy
pursuant to by, following, per, under
reflect say, show
regarding about, of, on
relative to about, on
relocate move
remain stay
remain stay
remainder rest
remuneration pay, payment
render give, make
represents is
request ask
require must, need
requirement need
reside live
retain keep
said, some, such the, this, that
selection choice
set forth in in
similar to like
solicit ask for, request
state-of-the-art latest
subject the, this, your
submit give, send
subsequent later, next
subsequently after, later, then
substantial large, much
successfully complete complete, pass
sufficient enough
take action to (omit)
terminate end, stop
the month of (omit)
there are (omit)
therefore so
therein there
there is (omit)
thereof its, their
the undersigned I
the use of (omit)
this activity, command us, we
timely prompt
time period (either one)
transmit send
type (omit)
under the provisions of under
until such time as until
utilize, utilization use
validate confirm
viable practical, workable
vice instead of, versus
warrant call for, permit
whereas because, since
with reference to about
with the exception of except for
witnessed saw
your office you
/ (slash) and, or