DR. ENGLISH: Keeping It Simple

“You, too, can have the vocabulary of a Harvard English major.” You’ve probably seen that advertisement in airline magazines, suggesting that you, too, can develop knowledge of words that other people don’t know, making them feel stupid and, thus, elevating your own self-image.

As it so happens, Dr. English is a Harvard English major, and the only others I know who use words others don’t understand are totally rude. I mean, really, why say “eleemosynary” when “charitable” will do just as well? Why say “have a predilection for” when all it means is “like”? And, at a lower level, why say “utilize” when all it means is “use”?

What about you? How secure or insecure are you about your language skills? The more you opt for the simple alternative, the more secure you are.

Big Word/Phrase Smart Alternative
prior to before
with respect to about
further information more information
hereinabove above
however but
as well as and
at this point in time now
in lieu of instead of
I’d rather I’d prefer
I would like to thank you for Thank you for
provide with give
subsequently later
is comprised of comprises
expenditure expense
formulate develop
preplan plan
subsequent to after
Having said that [I know this incredibly stupid transitional phrase that means nothing at all. Wanna hear it?]
That said [Wanna hear another one?]