Making Vague Words Specific: Activity

Which is Better?

In small groups of two or three students, examine the sets of sentences below and decide which version you like better under each number. Explain why.

1. It is a way of managing them and getting them down on paper. There is nothing unusual about this, and you can learn to do it well and feel good about it if you try.

Writing is a way of capturing elusive, half-formed ideas, dragging them into the light of day, and herding them onto paper. This process is not alchemy, it is a craft which can be learned like any other, such as making a bookshelf. If you invest the time and effort, you can learn to write powerfully.

2. Thus preachers, who had previously considered sports the devil’s work, open invitations to brutishness and gambling (how times have changed!), gradually perceived that they might be rescued and cleaned up in the service of the Lord–and what was good for God was good for England.

Thus those who had previously thought sports were bad, gradually thought that they could be improved.

Sheed, Wilfrid. “Why Sports Matter.” “‘They Say / I Say’: The Moves that Matter in Academic Writing with Readings. 2nd ed. Ed. Gerald Graff, Cathy Birkenstein, Russell Durst. New York: W. W. Norton & Co., 2012. 489-527. Print.

Making Vague Words Specific

Take these sentences below and replace the vague wording with specific words and add other words to make the sentences more detailed. It doesn’t matter what you replace those words with, as long as they are more exact.

Look especially for these words: “you,” when it means “everybody,” “it,” “they,” “this,” and “that,” when they do not refer to a nearby noun, “always,” “everything,” “everyone,” “people,” “things,” “stuff,” “bad,” “good,” “stupid,” “interesting,” “in life,” “in the world,” “in today’s society,” and “a lot.”

In the world, they think that money means you are better than others.

It is stupid that everyone believes that.

Things are happening to people in today’s society.

In life, everyone likes to express stuff.

You always hurt yourself if you aren’t paying attention when you are doing things in the world.

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