Find vague and abstract words

8 Comments

Provides a list of possible vague or abstract words in your writing.

Study each suggestion for those words or phrases to determine whether or not the suggestion is appropriate in your context. The words or phrases in the Word or Phrase column appear in your writing. The suggestions in the Suggestion column offer possible alternatives which may apply in the context of your writing.

Thanks to EvilAutor.com for the vague words list. Please use the feedback to let of know of words that we've missed.

Abstract Words

An abstract noun denotes an intangible, such as a quality or state. A concrete noun denotes the person or thing that may possess that quality or be in that state. For examplë: man is concrete and humanity is abstract, brain is concrete and thought is abstract. Abstract nouns are necessary in their proper places, but should not be used to excess. Using abstract nouns to excess:
  • Makes statements indirect, and therefore their meaning is more difficult to grasp. The commonest form is to make an abstract noun the subject of a sentence where a concrete noun would be more natural, for example, "was this the realisation of an anticipated liability?" instead of "did you expect you would have to do this?"
  • Secondly, abstract nouns have less precise meanings than concrete ones, and therefore should be avoided as far as possible by those who wish to make their meaning plain. There is not room for wide variation in the interpretation by different people of such words as house and ship. But there is infinite room for differences of opinion about what is meant by such words as liberty and democracy.
Ironically the very vagueness of abstract words is one of the reasons for their popularity. It is harder to be precise. We are often tempted to prefer the safer obscurity of the abstract.

Be specific or try to edit these words from your writing. Occasionally using one of these words (say one a page) won’t ruin your style. However, the more you use these words, the less readable your writing becomes.

Comments (8) Add Yours

 
  • LondonC says
    EvilAutor's list includes a many words which aren't vague (or are intentionally vague, like "approximately"). "Had had" might be poor usage, but it labeling it vague is, well, vague. Other words in the list, like "beneficial" or "creative" have specific meanings. They may be abstract, but alternatives aren't more revealing. For this checker to be useful for me, I would want the word list culled to terms that are actually vague, or at least vague in common usage.
    Posted On Dec 14, 2013 | 05:00
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    • masterpokemontrainer00 says
      i agree
      Posted On Jun 16, 2016 | 11:03
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  • Vanessa says
    Did you know this software makes the first chapter in Harry Potter's Sorcerer's Stone look bad? - 134 issues vague words. - 56 issues diction words - 71 issues sticky sentences. - 125 issues grammar checks. Makes me think this software wasn't meant for juvenile fiction or just maybe it needs a serious overhaul?
    Posted On Nov 28, 2015 | 10:46
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  • Vanessa says
    I agree with LondonC! You need to fix this in the creative writing check.
    Posted On Nov 28, 2015 | 10:48
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  • Vanessa says
    Mis-spelled word in the below software sentence... Suggestions for this paragraph: 1 Unecessary comma before a subordinate conjunction.
    Posted On Nov 28, 2015 | 10:49
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  • Rhonda Davis says
    There is no suggestion list when vague words come up all I get is this really-Vague (2). I have the premium membership and I never get suggestions. What is the answer for this?
    Posted On May 04, 2016 | 01:43
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  • dhancock75 says
    I am not seeing suggestions as the software says it shows.
    Posted On May 16, 2016 | 07:39
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  • pauuuu777 says
    There needs to be more context added for this tool. This tool isn't free. 'Penalty area' is a very specific compound noun, labelling 'area' as vague is confusing and WRONG.
    Posted On Oct 04, 2016 | 06:12
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