BlogHow to Use ProWritingAidFind vague and abstract words

Find vague and abstract words

The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.
Published Jan 01, 2001

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

  1. Abstract Words

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.

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The ProWritingAid Team
ProWritingAid: A grammar guru, style editor, and writing mentor in one package.

The most successful people in the world have coaches. Whatever your level of writing, ProWritingAid will help you achieve new heights. Exceptional writing depends on much more than just correct grammar. You need an editing tool that also highlights style issues and compares your writing to the best writers in your genre. ProWritingAid helps you find the best way to express your ideas.

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.
By LondonC on 14 December 2013, 05:00 AM
i agree
By masterpokemontrainer00 on 16 June 2016, 11:03 PM
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?
By Alice McClary on 28 November 2015, 10:46 PM
I agree with LondonC! You need to fix this in the creative writing check.
By Alice McClary on 28 November 2015, 10:48 PM
Mis-spelled word in the below software sentence... Suggestions for this paragraph: 1 Unecessary comma before a subordinate conjunction.
By Alice McClary on 28 November 2015, 10:49 PM
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?
By rd6532 on 04 May 2016, 01:43 PM
I am not seeing suggestions as the software says it shows.
By dhancock75 on 16 May 2016, 07:39 PM
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.
By pauuuu777 on 04 October 2016, 06:12 PM

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