Writing Reviser: Making Sentences Clearer


We regularly revise and add features to Writing Reviser so that it is even more responsive to the needs of students!

More specifically, we've bolstered the Writing Reviser menu to help students spot potentially problematic words and expressions, thus making their sentences clearer and more powerful. 

Tell the reader what “This” means.

Sentence clarity has been enhanced with the vague reference section. Communication breaks down when students use words like “this” without specifying a particular idea. Unless the context makes their point immediately evident, we tell students to restate the key word or words between “this” and the verb.

Unclear: This is what confuses me.

Clear: This equation confuses me.

Exaggeration is not always bigger and better.

We highlight examples of overstatement, exaggerated expressions that are a problem common to student writers.

We remind them that one sure way to undermine their credibility and lose the reader’s confidence is to overstate or exaggerate their claims. Using words like “never,” “always,” “greatest,” and “worst” requires that they take special care to ensure that their assertions are true. Otherwise they are writing fake news!

Overstated: No one can beat my friend at chess.

Better: No one in my school has ever beaten my friend at chess.

Give context to the quotations you include.

We point out cases of unembedded quotations. We tell students that every quotation they use should be attached to one of their own sentences. We caution them about simply dropping detached quotations into a paper as though they were throwing items into a suitcase. After all, the writer's job is to make clear why she has chosen a specific quotation and how it advances her thesis.

Unembedded: Hamlet is depressed. “To be, or not to be—that is the question.”

Embedded: Hamlet expresses his despair when he says, “To be, or not to be—that is the question.”

With the changes we've made and continue to make to Writing Reviser, your students work is sure to benefit!


About Author

Terry Hardison

Terry Hardison oversees the development of English language arts resources for Curriculum Pathways. Prior to joining SAS, Terry worked for 21 years as a teacher and as a district-level English language arts supervisor.

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