List of plain English words and phrases

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Plain English (sometimes referred to more broadly as plain language) is a generic term for communication in English that emphasizes clarity, brevity, and the avoidance of technical language—particularly in relation to official government or business communication. It uses simple, familiar words instead of lengthy, formal words,[1] avoids jargon, prefers positive words to negative words,[2] and prefers strong verbs to be verbs.[3]

This is a list of plain English words and phrases and the more lengthy, formal words for which they are recommended as replacements in writing guides. The problem word is listed first; the plain English alternative follows.

A[edit]

  • above-mentioned, above-listed, before-mentioned, aforementioned – (Omit)[4][5]
  • accede to – Allow, agree to[6]
  • adjacent to – Next to[8]
  • adversely impact on – Hurt, set back[8]
  • afford an opportunity – Allow, let[8]
  • aggregate – Total[6]
  • aircraft – airplane[8] ("Plane" can also mean "flat surface" and a woodworking tool; the word "airplane" avoids this confusion. The word "aircraft" can be used if you need to specifically include balloons, blimps, gliders, etc.; it's the simplest word for the whole category of aerial vehicles.)
  • all of – All[11]
  • along the lines of – Like, as in[12]
  • an absence of – No, none[6]
  • and particularly – Particularly[13]
  • and/or – Use either "and" or "or."[8][11]
  • a number of – Some[8]
  • arrive onboard – Arrive[8]
  • as a means of – To[8]
  • as per our telephone conversation of this date – As we discussed this afternoon[16][17]
  • as prescribed by – In, under[8]
  • as far as ... is concerned – (Omit)[17][18]
  • as to– Of, on, with, for, to, by, in, into[17]
  • as yet, as of yet – Yet[19]
  • at its discretion – Can, may[12]
  • attributable to – Because[12]
  • at your earliest convenience – As soon as you can[16]

B[edit]

  • basis, on a – (omit)[17]
  • be advised – (omit)[8]
  • because of the fact that – because, since[22][23]
  • belated – late[24]
  • beneficial – helpful, useful[24]
  • bestow – give, award[24]
  • by reason of – because[20]
  • by virtue of – by, under[20]

C[edit]

  • case of, in the – (omit)[25]
  • close proximity – near[8]
  • combat environment – combat[8]
  • consensus, of opinion, consensus, general – consensus[29]

D[edit]

  • despite the fact that – although[22][23]
  • does not have – lacks[2]
  • does not include – excludes, omits[2]
  • due to the fact that – because, since[8][23]
  • duly (authorized, signed) – (omit)[30]
  • during the period, during the time that – during, while[8][18]

E[edit]

  • each and every – (omit)[31]
  • early beginnings) – beginnings, early days[32]
  • each...apiece) – each[32]
  • effect modifications – make changes[8]
  • else but, else than) – but[34]
  • enclosed please find – I have enclosed[36][16]
  • end (result, product) – omit[37]
  • equally as – equally[37]

F[edit]

  • first(ly), second(ly), third(ly) – first, second, third[38]
  • first and foremost – first[39]
  • for example,______etc. – for example, such as[8]
  • for the purpose of, – to[20]
  • for the reason that, – to[20]

H[edit]

  • has a duty to – must[41]
  • has a requirement for – needs[8]
  • honest truth – truth[42]

I[edit]

  • identify with –agree, understand[44]
  • if and when – use either word; not both[44]
  • in addition – also, besides, too[8]
  • in all likelihood – probably[46]
  • in an effort to – to[8]
  • in a timely manner – on time, promptly[8]
  • in between – between[45]
  • in connection with – with, about[20]
  • incumbent upon – must[8]
  • in excess of – more than[10]
  • in favor of – for[20]
  • in lieu of – instead[8]
  • in many cases – often[23]
  • in order that – for, so[8]
  • in regard(s) to – about, concerning, on[8][15]
  • in relation to – about, with, to[8][20]
  • in some instances – sometimes[23]
  • inside of – inside[48]
  • institute legal proceedings against, bring action against – sue[14]
  • interpose no objection – don't object[8]
  • in the amount of – for[8]
  • in the case of – when[23]
  • in the majority of instances – usually[18]
  • in the nature of – like[23]
  • in the near future – shortly, soon[8]
  • in the process of – (omit)[8]
  • in view of – since[8]
  • in view of the above – so[8]
  • is applicable to – applies to[8]
  • is authorized to – may[8]
  • is in consonance with – agrees with, follows[8]
  • is responsible for – (omit) handles[8]
  • it appears – seems[8]
  • it is – (omit)[8]
  • it is essential – must, need to[8]
  • it is requested – please, we request, I request[8]
  • it is important to add that, in this regard it is of significance that, it may be recalled that, it is interesting to point out that – (omit)[27]

L[edit]

  • liaison – discussion[8]
  • -ly (doubtless, fast, ill, much, seldom, thus) – (omit)[50]
  • last will and testament – will[51]

M[edit]

  • make a mockery of – (omit)[52]
  • make an attempt, make an effort – try[52]
  • make reference to – refer[53]
  • mental attitude – attitude[54]
  • merge – merge[55]
  • month + of + year – March 2013[56]

N[edit]

  • nature, of a – (omit)[59]
  • not able – unable[2]
  • not accept – reject[2]
  • not certain – uncertain[2]
  • not unlike – similar, alike[2]
  • not many – few[2]
  • not often – seldom, rarely[2]
  • not the same – different[2]
  • not...unless, not...except – only if[2]
  • not...until – only when[2]
  • not later than 10 May – by 10 May, before 11 May not later than 1600 by 1600[8]
  • now comes – (omit)[60]

O[edit]

  • off of – off[65]
  • on request – if you ask[10]
  • on a daily basis - daily
  • on a X basis - Xly (where X is an adjective)
  • on the basis of – by, from[23]
  • on the contrary – but, so[57]
  • on the grounds that – (omit)[56]
  • on the other hand – (omit);[56] but, so[57]
  • on the part of – by[66][56]
  • operate – run, use, work[8]
  • optimum – best, greatest, most[8]
  • option – choice, way[8]
  • orientate – orient[66][67]
  • ...out (calculate, cancel, distribute, segregate, separate) – omit[68]
  • outside of – outside[66]
  • overall (unless it means the garment) – (omit)[69]
  • oversight [v] – oversee[70]
  • owing to the fact that – because, since[22][23]

P[edit]

  • provide guidance for – guide[8]
  • pursuant to – by, following, per, under;[8] in response to, in carrying out, as required by[82][16]

Q[edit]

  • question as to whether, question of whether – question whether[82]
  • quite puzzling – baffling[42]

R[edit]

S[edit]

T[edit]

U[edit]

V[edit]

  • validate – confirm[8]
  • variation – change[95]
  • various different – "various" or "different"[96]
  • very – (omit)[97]
  • very angry – enraged[42]
  • viable – practical, workable[8]

W[edit]

Y[edit]

  • you are requested – please[100]
  • your attention is drawn – please see, please note[100]
  • your office – you[8]
  • / (slash) – and, or[8]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Schiess 2003-2004, p. 71-75
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l SEC 1998, p. 27
  3. ^ Garner 2001
  4. ^ Garner 2002, p. 100-01: "cumbersome phrases; lawyerisms"
  5. ^ a b c d e f Wydick 1978, p. 739: "lawyerism"
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 3
  7. ^ a b Garner 2009a, p. 371: "formal word"
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay az ba bb bc bd be bf bg bh bi bj bk bl bm bn bo bp bq br bs bt bu bv bw bx by bz ca cb cc cd ce cf cg ch ci cj ck cl cm cn co cp cq cr cs ct cu cv cw cx cy cz da db dc dd de df dg dh di dj dk dl dm dn do dp dq dr ds dt du dv dw dx dy dz ea eb ec ed ee ef eg eh ei ej ek el em en eo ep eq er es et eu ev ew ex ey ez fa fb fc fd fe ff fg fh fi fj fk fl fm fn fo fp fq fr fs ft fu fv fw fx fy fz ga gb gc gd ge gf gg gh gi gj gk gl gm gn go gp gq gr gs gt gu gv gw gx gy gz ha hb hc hd he hf hg hh hi hj hk hl hm hn ho Simple word suggestions.
  9. ^ a b c Schiess, p. 1: "heavy connector"
  10. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q Plain English Campaign, p. 10: "word to avoid"
  11. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 102
  12. ^ a b c d e f g Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 4
  13. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 611: "unnecessary"
  14. ^ a b c d Garner 2009a, p. 587: "officialese"
  15. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z Garner 2009b, p. 91: "genteelism"
  16. ^ a b c d e f g h Garner 2009b, p. 96: "commercialese"
  17. ^ a b c d Garner 2002, p. 104: "legaldegook"
  18. ^ a b c d e Wydick 1978, p. 733: "verbose"
  19. ^ Garner 2002, p. 104-05
  20. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Wydick 1978, p. 731: "compound preposition"
  21. ^ Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 5
  22. ^ a b c d e f g h SEC 1998, p. 25: "superfluous"
  23. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r Wydick 1978, p. 732: "verbose"
  24. ^ a b c Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 6
  25. ^ Garner 2002, p. 106
  26. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 155: "class distinction"
  27. ^ a b c Wydick 1978, p. 755: "throat-clearing"
  28. ^ Garner 2002, p. 107
  29. ^ Garner 2002, p. 108
  30. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 284: "redundant"
  31. ^ Garner 2002, p. 112
  32. ^ a b Garner 2009a, p. 287: "redundant"
  33. ^ a b c d e f g h i Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 11
  34. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 300: "redundant"
  35. ^ a b c SEC 1998, p. 31: "simpler synonym"
  36. ^ Garner 2002, p. 113: "deadwood"
  37. ^ a b Garner 2009a, p. 313: "redundant"
  38. ^ a b c Garner 2002, p. 115"a favorite word of jargonmongers"
  39. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 355: "cliché"
  40. ^ a b Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 12
  41. ^ Kimble 1998-2000, p. 113: "wordy"
  42. ^ a b c d Wydick 1978, p. 754: "adjective-adverb mania"
  43. ^ Schiess, p. 1-2: "heavy connector"
  44. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 118: "voguish phrase"
  45. ^ a b c Garner 2002, p. 119: "vogue word"
  46. ^ a b Wydick 1978, p. 737: "verbose"
  47. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 120
  48. ^ a b c d Garner 2002, p. 121
  49. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 570: "nonword"
  50. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 24: "nonword double adverbs"
  51. ^ Lebovitz 2008, p. 59: "redundant"
  52. ^ a b c Garner 2009a, p. 522
  53. ^ Garner 2002, p. 125
  54. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 532-33: "redundant"
  55. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 533: "redundant"
  56. ^ a b c d Garner 2009a, p. 594: "superfluous"
  57. ^ a b c d e Schiess, p. 2: "heavy connector"
  58. ^ Saffire 1997: "pompous, snooty"
  59. ^ Garner 2002, p. 128
  60. ^ Kimble 2002, p. 45: "legal jargon"
  61. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 129
  62. ^ Butt 2006, p. 29: "jargon"
  63. ^ Kimble 1998-2000, p. 114: "redundant doublet"
  64. ^ Garner 2009b, p. 94: "officialese"
  65. ^ Garner 2002, p. 130
  66. ^ a b c Garner 2002, p. 131
  67. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 598: "redundant"
  68. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 600: "superfluous"
  69. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 601: "vogue word"
  70. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 602: "jargon"
  71. ^ Garner 2002, p. 132: "jargonistic vogue word"
  72. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 618: "archaic"
  73. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 630: "redundant"
  74. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 640: "clumsy phrase"
  75. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 648: "jargon"
  76. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 653: "euphemism"
  77. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 133
  78. ^ Garner 2002, p. 134
  79. ^ Garner 2002, p. 135
  80. ^ Schiess 2003-2004, p. 57-58: "wordy"
  81. ^ a b c d Plain English Campaign, p. 11: "word to avoid"
  82. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 136: "legalese"
  83. ^ Garner 2002, p. 136-37: "verbose"
  84. ^ a b Garner 2002, p. 137: "redundan[t]"
  85. ^ Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 26
  86. ^ SEC 1998, p. 35
  87. ^ Garner 2002, p. 139: "legaldegook"
  88. ^ Schiess 2003-2004, p. 56: "vague word"
  89. ^ Butt 2008, p. 29: "jargon"
  90. ^ Kimble 1992
  91. ^ Schiess 2003-2004, p. 74
  92. ^ Garner 2002, p. 141
  93. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 845: "verbose"
  94. ^ Lebovitz 2001, p. 56: "legalese"
  95. ^ Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 30
  96. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 838: "redundant"
  97. ^ Garner 2009a, p. 842: "weasel word"
  98. ^ a b Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 31
  99. ^ Garner 2002, p. 147: "legalese"
  100. ^ a b Plain English Campaign 2001, p. 32

References[edit]