In Expository Prose Avoid All Qualifiers

Charles Goulet

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Expository prose is meant to expound, explain, or appraise analytically. Thus it should be concise, precise, and clear. It should use language that does not rely on qualifiers such as rather, little, pretty, very and others to make its meaning exact and meticulous.

Qualifiers are adjectives or adverbs added to another word to qualify or limit its meaning, but the common ones weaken the writer’s work. In the sentence “It was rather cold, " the qualifier does little to tell us how cold it was. ‘Little’, ‘pretty’, or ‘very’ are others that tell us nothing about how cold it was. So, writers should eliminate such qualifiers from their work, especially in expository prose.

As these common qualifiers do little to illuminate and clarify the author’s intended meaning they make the writing trite, commonplace, and dull. Of course, clichéd writing does not encourage the reader to appreciate what the author is trying to expound or illustrate so one must be careful not to go too far the other way and appear superior or snobby.

Well chosen nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs do a better job. They make the writing more precise, more vital, more original, and more unique. Like all good writing, the choice of words is paramount. Since more exact adjectives and adverbs do not require qualifiers, they reduce the verbiage making a style that is fluid and graceful.

Thus avoiding qualifiers improves the author’s style and reasoning.

Charles O. Goulet has a BA in history and a BEd in English literature so he writes historical novels, most based on Canadian history. He may be contacted at:





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