300 Days of Better Writing

June 25, 2013

Avoid foreign words and phrases.


The point of writing is communication. While some readers may understand a wide variety of foreign words and phrases, many won’t, and this will hinder your ability to communicate clearly. For example, readers may not understand the following:

bon mot

a priori

cause celebre

hoi polloi

nota bene

verboten

[Note: when you use these words in a document written in English, you will generally put them in italics.]

On the other hand, many foreign words and phrases are commonly used in English, such as these:

foyer

status quo

faux pas

carte blanche

Here’s the point. If you’re using a foreign term to impress your readers, don’t. If you’re using a foreign term that is part of the common vocabulary of your reader, fine. In every case, think about why you are using a particular word and how the reader will respond.


This is the strategy for day 26 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

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