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Revising for Word Choice

Revising any writing can be difficult for students. Teachers give them a hundred things to look for, and they are overwhelmed. As with any new skill, practice improves performance. By looking for required elements in writing, you  are learning. Next time you sit down to write, more of these elements will be included on the first draft. Revision becomes easy!

In this post, I will focus on revising for WORD CHOICE. It’s so easy to tell students, “Make your actual words better.” They look at you blankly. Every time we write a sentence, we choose which words to use. There is always different way to say something. Here are specifics to look for when making better word choices.

1. Strong nouns and verbs make your writing sing!

For example: This book is about dinosaurs.

Revised: This textbook describes Tyrannus Rex and his dinosaur brothers.

WARNING: Use a thesaurus to remind yourself of different words you already know. Don’t pick unfamiliar words because the part of speech or connotation may make your sentence incomprehensible.


2. Sentence variety prevents boredom in your reader! Some repetition is good–if you want to make a point or emphasize something important–but usually repeating the same sentence beginnings or phrases is lazy.

For example: Jack wrapped Tiger’s leash around the tree, around the rock, around the mailbox. His puppy would not escape again!

In this case, the repetition emphasizes the wrapping and requires no revision.

Another example: Jack tied up his dog. Jack went inside the store. Jack bought ice cream.

Revised: Jack tied up his dog, went inside the store, and bought ice cream.


3. Wordiness is a curse! Students sometimes think that using more words to express an idea shows they are intelligent. Not so! Express your ideas as clearly and concisely as you can.

Some examples:

I came to the realization that

I realized that

She is of the opinion that

She thinks that

Concerning the matter of


During the course of


In the event that


In the process of

During, while

Regardless of the fact that


Due to the fact that


In all cases


At that point in time


Prior to



4. Pronouns can be tricky! Every time you use a pronoun, make sure the reader can tell who or what it refers to!

Example: Susie smiled at Rheya even though she didn’t like her very much. Who doesn’t like who?

Revised: Susie smiled at Rheya, even though Rheya didn’t like Susie very much. (This can actually now be revised for variety)


FINALLY, as with all revisions, have someone else read it to make sure that will all your changes you haven’t messed up the basic story. Happy revising!


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