Taboo Words and Forms to Avoid


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Taboo Words and Forms to Avoid

In high school you must take care to write with academically appropriate language. Therefore, avoid taboo words and conventions. You are held responsible for knowing these words and conventions on all academic writing, including essays, homework packets, and vocabulary sentences. Use of taboo words will lower your grade.
thing, things


a lot of

okay, ok

common adjectives (good, bad, happy, sad, mad) choose more precise language





kind of/sort of


Common modifiers such as very, extremely, incredibly (chose a precise word)

could of, would of, should of (could have, would have)

& instead of and

Contractions (won’t = will not)

Text messaging terms: lol = hilarious, 2 = to, 4 = for, GF = death

First person in academic writing except personal narratives: I, we, us, our, me

Second person: you,

numbers ten and under should be spelled out unless part of a date, street numbers or proper names. Numbers over ten are spelled out if they start a sentence.

slang (my bad, emo, fugly, peeps, dawgs, homies, sup, rad)

anything obscene (in direct quotes, use only the first and last letters, replace each missing letter with an asterisk = s**t)

jargon (“technical talk” example: Bilateral probital hematoma (jargon) 

for a black eye, or “shiner” (SLANG)

prove – as it applies to arguing mean and matter (you do the proving)

true or truly – as it applies to the essence of something

The fact that = that

In order to = to
Additionally avoid

Avoid using “one” when referring to an anonymous person – reword the sentence to appear address the people you are actually referencing, like Americans, individuals, women, pioneers, etc.

“Talks about” when referencing a writer’s statement in a novel

Being and all its forms and, as much as possible, all its forms

There is (are) (there is a woman I know who is insane about her dog = A woman I know is insane about her dog)

Gerunds are words that take a form of to and add an ing to the verb “ Paul is reflecting on the war” should read “Paul reflects on the war.”

The author wants to show/the author intends (assumes)

Do not refer to the reader (the reader will see that....) elements

Do not refer to the quote (the quote is important because…)

Passive voice. The review will be performed by Ms. Miller = Ms. Miller will perform the review; Ms. Gerber’s food was cheered by all = Everyone cheered Ms. Gerber’s food

“What people don’t know/realize is” (assumes)

Rhetorical questions except in intro and conclusion

The author “is able to” – this implies a lack of qualifications.

Syllogistic logic – we aim to prove through explanations and examples

Awareness of your audience – Your teacher is your audience. When you write about a work your teacher assigned, assume your teacher has read it. You do not need to summarize the story or say things like Paul, the protagonist, or a confused teenager named Holden Caulfield.

Know your standard heading for class work and the standard heading for MLA. They are different:

MLA Standard Heading

place on left side of paper

Double space – no more, no less

Note order and abbreviations

Standard Heading for

Gerber Work

(place on right side of paper, at the top)

Joe M. Student

Ms. Gerber

English 9 Honors

18 Nov. 2014

Joe Student

Period 1

November 18, 2014

Ms. Gerber


When you write about fiction, use present tense.

Non-fiction is written in authentic tense

Never critique (“Steinbeck beautifully and accurately portrays the life of disposed migrants.” This is not your job nor are you qualified to judge iconic American literature – simply argue your thesis).

Omit all summary – ARGUE instead

KNOW THY AUDIENCE – Your audience is me, your teacher, who has read the works countless times. You do not need to say “Jim, a slave, is set adrift on the vast Mississippi River.” I am well aware Jim is a slave. Nor do you need to relate that “The protagonist in the novel is a boy named Huckleberry Finn, who takes a journey down the river.” Likewise, you should assume I know the name of the protagonist. This type of writing reads as fluff and filler and a pretty clear indication that you don’t have much to say regarding your argument.

KNOW THY REGISTER – unless specifically stated, assume the register for academic writing is formal – do not adopt a friendly, casual demeanor with your reader, do not invoke second person, and do not EVER summon the egregious first person (I, we, us, our). EVER.


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