Appropriate language

Appropriate language

Author: Ryan Howard

    Introduce pretentious language and how to avoid it.


    Introduce jargon and how to avoid it.


    Introduce clichés and how to avoid them.


This packet should help a learner seeking to understand English writing styles and who is confused about how to use appropriate language. It will explain how to use appropriate language for academic papers. 

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Pretentious Language

What is Pretentious Language?


Pretentious language is the usage of more abstract or unnecessary vocabulary in writing.


Some examples of pretentious language:


  • Dave and Sara decided to utilize some money from their retirement fund for a vacation to the Glapagos Islands.


  •  The enormous feline ambled into the kitchen.


  •  I cannot comprehend why your daughter refuses to accompany me to the school festival.    


Notice how each of those sentences has words that are unnecessary and could use simpler versions of those words.


Let us take the last sentence for example. 

I cannot comprehend why your daughter refuses to accompany me to the school festival. 

Is it really necessary to use all these more sophisticated words?  Perhaps we can simplify it.

I cannot understand why your daughter refuses to go with me to the school dance. 

The revised version of the sentence is just as (if not more) understandable as the original and sounds intelligent.  People will often use an extended vocabulary in their writing in order to make them appear more intelligent. 

Take a look at the following sentence:


The adipose girl avered that she would suffer defeat if I were her team companion.

Again, there is no need for all these more complex words.  Let's simplify it shall we?

First of all, the word "adipose" means "fat" so we can substitute the simple word "fat."  "Avered" is past tense for "aver," which means "to state" or "to say something."  We can delete "suffer defeat" and replace it with the single word "lose."  Finally, we can replace the word "companion" with "partner."

Here is how it will look:

The fat girl stated that she would lose if I were her team partner.


Now it is your turn.  Take a look at the following sentences and try to simplify them.  You can use a dictionary or thesaurus to look up words with which you are not familiar.


Carl is flabbergasted to see such a gigantic mound of french fries on his plate.


These zoological gardens were established circa the turn of the century.


It is extraneous to take the radio on our excursion.


Those pachyderms are some of the most colossal creatures on the planet.





This presentation will discuss jargon. In order to understand some of the medical terms, you can refer to this medical jargon website.


Cliche Presentation

In this slideshow, you will learn about cliches and how they can be avoided.

Cliche Video

The narrator goes overboard with cliches and then discusses the reasons for not using them.


What you have learned in this lesson:

  • Pretentious language is basically "pretend", wherein the person uses more sophisticated words to sound more intelligent
  • Jargon refers to meaningless and incoherent talk, specialized vocabulary for a trade or profession, or hybrid language.
  • Jargons are helpful in professions or trade, but should not be used to address the general public
  • A cliche is a phrase or expression that has become so overused, it becomes annoying ( dead as the dodo, crying over spilled milk).
  • Cliches make academic papers appear amateurish.  
  •   Avoiding cliches can be done by taking care when you are thinking of a similie (happy as a clam, like a cow eating grass) Determining if the phrase is something heard in everyday life, or being creative, but being careful not to misuse synonyms.    



Source: see above sections for sources