Effective Use of Language The Importance of Language

Characteristics of Effective Language

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Characteristics of Effective Language

There are six main characteristics of effective language. Effective language is: (1) concrete and specific, not vague and abstract; (2) concise, not verbose; (3) familiar, not obscure; (4) precise and clear, not inaccurate or ambiguous; (5) constructive, not destructive; and (6) appropriately formal. 

Concrete and Specific Language

Concrete language includes descriptions which create tangible images with details the reader can visualize. Abstract language is vague and obscure, and does not bring to mind specific visual images. Consider the two sets of statements below. The statement at the top is abstract, but the statements become increasingly concrete and specific toward the bottom. 

He is a bad roommate
He is lazy and discourteous
He is untidy and unclean
He doesn't clean up his own messes
He leaves his dirty dishes on the kitchen counter

Your relationship with John is unacceptable

You do not get along well with John
You and John have a lot of arguments
You and John insult each other too much
You and John call each other derogatory names

Notice how much more effective the statements become as the language becomes more specific and concrete. The statements at the top, which are more abstract, can be interpreted in many possible ways, and leave many questions answered. The statements at the bottom, which are more concrete, are less open to multiple interpretations.

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