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Common Problems with Clarity and Logic When Writing an Essay

Writing an essay can be a daunting task, which becomes even more frightening when your college professor or a high school teacher informs you that your essay has problems with clarity and logic. In this article, we have summed up the most common problems with clarity and logic when writing an essay so you can understand what to edit and when writing an essay. We will also mention grammar, coherence, unity, and proofreading to guide you through all the important stages of editing and writing.

To cut a long story short, clarity and logic in your essay is a measure of how well you can communicate your message and make it clear for the audience. So, let us review the most common problems in writing an essay, learn from examples, and see how to avoid them.

Know What to Edit and When Writing an Essay

It is crucial to understand what has to be edited (and when) if you have to work with a written assignment. Still, before you start writing and editing, remember to check for the following:

  • Stipulated word limit set for the task
  • A level of academic writing required by the specific discipline
  • A necessity to present written materials in certain logical order
  • Spelling, referencing, using graphics or any visual elements

Knowing of these particular requirements and rules, you can start working with a draft. The secret here is understanding of a difference between writing and editing stages. It is always better to produce something that is not perfect and revise it later than waste your time trying to write something from the first and only take. So let us draw a clear line between writing and editing! Follow our logical line:

Editing: you must be critical to your work, add and remove elements, improve style, grammar or content review your work, tidy things up and feel quite objective afterward.

Writing: you create, you include your thoughts in the text, you present ideas the way they are, you are recording your thoughts, you feel involved, work immediately even if it sounds naive, feel unafraid to make a total mess.

Can you see and follow the logic now? The most common mistake people make when writing an essay is editing before they even complete something first. It takes away logic and clarity because it is like a crazy soup of thoughts where you have all the tasty ingredients, but it just does not work well in the mix!

The secret is separating editing from writing. You see, when you understand this simple rule, the rest of the article will seem more apparent (and not as boring as the terms may sound) to you!

Clarity

Clarity is essentially trying to write clearly so your audience (and your professor, of course!) can understand you! Usually, the following 4 problems that are usually met in relation to the clarity of a written essay:

  • Use of two words when one word is enough. For example, the phrases like “The Sea was blue in color” where it is obvious, that blue is already a color! Another more complex example is “James would hold out until the afternoon when the guests arrived,” which should be “James would wait until the afternoon…”
  • Use of unnecessary words and phrases. An example: “This is because, as a fact of the matter, this is important mainly because” phrases, which can be avoided, if possible.
  • Ambiguity because of a wrong word order. An example: “Also there are issues with the children,” which should be “There are also issues with…” The Beatles formed in 1957 in Liverpool,” which should be “The Beatles formed in Liverpool in 1957”.
  • The reference to pronoun antecedent is not clear. Okay, here is what we mean: “The college professor told the student his pencil was not working”. Whose pencil? Student’s or college professor’s? Who is “he” in this situation?

Logic

You have to make your essay logical, so before we explain the trick of proofreading, let us tell you that you have to check with the following to see if your work makes sense:

  • Know your audience! The most common mistake is forgetting that certain members of your audience may not hold a Master’s degree after all, so students tend to make it too complicated.
  • Change of subject and exceeding of information. You include too many topics and important matters, discussing different ideas in the same paragraph, which may take away logic from your paper. Try to stick to “one paragraph — one idea” rule!
  • Support your ideas with evidence! When you include information in your essay, try to support it with references or provide evidence from your personal experience.
  • Strong thesis. This is what makes your audience focus on the main idea, so readers can follow your logic and see your vision and professional position.

Grammar

Grammar is essential for your essay because such little details like punctuation, subject-verb agreement, and pronoun-antecedent disagreement can bring you in trouble if used wrong. I know, we are not Mr. Spock here, so let us try to make it clearer for you!

  • Punctuation. It is where you have to put all the commas to avoid confusion!
  • Pronoun-antecedent disagreement. Let us provide you with the rules of each case, so you learn from examples and avoid possible gender bias and wrong stylistics in your future essay. For example, when you write “If a pharmacist has to prescribe another medication…” — continue the phrase with “they” or “she” to meet the rule. Now, when you write “If the pharmacist has to prescribe another medication…” — continue with “he” or “she” to identify the gender of a person. The majority of English language stylists advise not to use “pharmacists + they” in your essay as it is stylistically incorrect. Finally, when we mentioned gender issues, it is because “a pharmacist + he” is considered to be the case of gender bias!
  • Subject-Verb Agreement. It means that subject and verb must agree in number — both need to be singular or both need to be plural. For example: “Neither my dad nor my brothers know how to play the piano.” See the difference between “my sister or brother is coming to the party” and “either Granny or my sisters are going to the party.”
  • “OR” conjunction mistake. An example is: “Milk or cheese satisfy human needs in calcium.” It is a wrong example because it should be “Milk or cheese satisfies human needs in calcium.”

Remembering Coherence and Unity

Coherence is when you build a bridge from one idea to the next with the help of transition words and phrases. As an example, “however, therefore, despite, although, even though” among others. Each of these words has a specific meaning, so it is crucial to:

  • Learn where and how the transition words are used
  • Read aloud to check if your reader can connect your ideas the way you want them to be connected with the help of topic sentences and connecting phrases.
  • Check the grammar of each sentence in question to see if transition words can be used. Try to avoid verbs and tense confusion that we mentioned in the Grammar part!

Unity is when you focus on a single idea, as you write, or cleverly unite all aspects of a chosen subject. While it may sound simple, just check to make sure that you:

  • Focus on the main idea first, write it down as a thesis, make a list of what relates to your topic, progress from there. It is your thesis statement.
  • Divide each detail that relates to your topic in several paragraphs (body).
  • Check for topic sentences that summarize the main idea and look out for connecting words, so it flows smoothly from paragraph to paragraph.
  • Use evidence and the references to support your statements and information.
  • Check your essay for balance by making sure that you highlight all existing opinions and points of view to explain why your opinion matters.

Proofreading For a Better Perception

Finally, we can tell you about our main secret to writing a good essay! Do you know why the geeks are so successful? They are just nerdy! No, seriously, it is because they walk an extra mile and proofread their essays repeatedly. Of course, they revise and use drafts before they are happy with the results, but even then, they always proofread their work! So what exactly is proofreading an essay and why it is so important?

Proofreading is when you read your essay to yourself or the others before you get it submitted. You can proofread your essay it aloud to hear how it sounds so you can revise what you dislike or even change several parts. It also helps you to get rid of grammar and punctuation mistakes. Essentially, it is what an editor does, hence you can be the editor for yourself. As a result, it allows for a better perception of your essay and it is like pre-screening of a movie where a director and all the actors see how the film looks and sounds before it is available for movie theaters. Just proofread and stay in control to give everyone your best “director’s cut” with amazing clarity and excellent logic!

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