In this essay, I consider big words to be complicated, advanced words. I think of simple words as basic, elementary type-words.
Learning to write with simple words is really hard. I think, especially in school (high-school), students are taught that complex terminology is more sophisticated and professional.
It turns out, in practice, the opposite is true.
In college, some professors acknowledge this, but most of my learning on “simple writing” has come in the workplace — sending emails, writing documents, etc. It is really hard to change your writing style once you have become accustomed to a certain tone.
Luckily, my “blogging style” has always been quite conversational. I write how I talk and I talk how I think. Basically, I write how I think.
Why write using basic words?
I subscribe to the idea that les is mor. I should always use as little as possible to explain/think about as much as possible.
I think this simplicity principle also applies here — I should always use as little complexity as possible in my writing. I am not against big words, but here are reasons for not using them:
- big words do not make you sound smart
- big words do not make you sound correct
- big words are hard to understand
- big words take away from the message
Big words are not bad, so long as they do a better job conveying the right meaning. I think of simple words as the “mvp” for meaning. Unless I can find a more complicated word that describes something 10x better, than why should I use it?
Aiming for simple is really hard. But I think it is worth it.
It makes things easier to remember. Easier to think about. Just easier to digest.
Originally published at Jordan Gonen.