Sound Smart, Be Simple

​Everyone wants to sound smart. Being smart can help you get ahead in the world but being smart and using big words do not necessarily go together.

Sound Smart, Be Simple

Jul 29, 2013

Everyone wants to sound smart. Being smart can help you get ahead in the world but being smart and using big words do not necessarily go together.

Take a look at the previous short paragraph. The longest word was “necessarily” and I would argue that nothing in those two sentences was very fancy. You can find all of those words in normal conversation. Using common words makes the reading easy to understand and quickly gets the point across.

Let me try to re-write that first paragraph in a way that tries to “sound smart”:

People everywhere desire to sound intelligent. Intellectual ability can assist you in advancing in the world however cerebral capacity and utilizing immense expressions do not inevitably harmonize.

Don’t get me wrong, most of the words that I changed are close synonyms of the words I used in the original paragraph and the basic idea is still there…somewhere. But which paragraph would you rather read? And which one would you feel comfortable speaking to someone in casual conversation?

We have all heard the saying “addition by subtraction.” I propose a new saying here; “addition by simplification.” Complication is sometimes just that and ends up confusing the reader. Remember this simple rule: “If I need a thesaurus to find the right word, chances are the reader will need a dictionary to figure out my meaning.”


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