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Jargon Buster: Three writing and grammar terms explained

I generally discourage using industry jargon in business writing. But if you’re sure your audience understands a term’s precise meaning, jargon is okay. It’s sometimes even necessary.

This blog post will help you grapple with jargon some copywriters or grammar buffs may throw your way. Understanding these three terms will help you become a better writer. From today.

Metadiscourse

Metadiscourse means writing about what you are writing about – or will write about. It results in phrases that add no value to the point you are making. Here are some examples:

  • I would like to draw your attention to the fact that…
  • I would like to point out that…
  • Please note…
  • It has become clear that…
  • To sum up…
  • Frankly…

We rely on metadiscourse when we want to filter our ideas or when we’re concerned about how our reader will take them.

Clear and direct business writing should avoid or, at a minimum, reduce metadiscourse.

Tautologies and redundancy

Tautologies are expressions which repeat the message. They add clutter to your writing and nothing more. Avoid them.

Here are some examples of tautologies and how to correct them.

        • Don’t use: major breakthrough
        • Use: breakthrough
        • Don’t use: progress forward
        • Use: progress
        • Don’t use: final conclusion
        • Use: conclusion
        • Don’t use: overall goal
        • Use: goal
        • Don’t use: very unique
        • Use: unique
        • Don’t use: mutual agreement
        • Use: agreement
        • Don’t use: current status
        • Use: status
        • Don’t use: new and innovative
        • Use: innovative
        • Don’t use: necessary prerequisite
        • Use: prerequisite
        • Don’t use: added bonus
        • Use: bonus
        • Don’t  use: my personal opinion
        • Use: my opinion

Nominalisations

A nominalisation is a type of ‘abstract noun’ – things you can’t touch or easily visualise such as ‘discussion’ or ‘reference’. Nominalisations are formed from verbs such as ‘discuss’ and ‘refer’.

Nominalisations make your sentences dull, heaving-going and difficult to understand. They also force you to include additional words in your sentences.

Avoiding nominalisations is easy – simply change the noun back to the action verb from which it was originally formed. Your writing will instantly become clearer and more direct.

  • Poor writing: The commencement of the event will be at 7pm.
  • Clear writing: The event will commence at 7pm.
  • Poor writing: The implementation of the plan has been done by the manager.
  • Clear writing: The manager implemented the plan.
  • Poor writing: This report gives an analysis of the situation.
  • Clear writing: This report analyses the situation.

Are there any grammar and writing terms that baffle you? Please let me know and I will try to include them in my next Jargon Buster blog post.