Academic Style: Word Choice Exercises

This handout is available for download in DOCX format and PDF format.


Word Choice: Rewrite the Sentence

Rewrite these sentences according to the principles of word choice and avoiding the common mistakes outlined on the “Word Choice” handout.


All underlined words have the same denotation, but different connotations. Write the different connotations of each underlined word.
  1. The roses climbed the trellis.
  2. The roses adorned the trellis.
  3. The roses strangled the trellis.
  1. She was a compulsive reader.
  2. She was a critical reader.
  3. She was a perceptive reader.
  1. The children were sleepy.
  2. The children were exhausted.
  3. The children were weary.
  1. The reef appeared beneath the surface.
  2. The reef loomed beneath the surface.
  3. The reef glimmered beneath the surface.

Unclear Pronouns

The following sentences have unclear pronoun antecedents. Rewrite them so that the meaning is clear.

1. Lizzy told her mother that her sweater had a hole in it.

2. When Alexander drove the car through the garage door, he badly damaged it.

3. Cathy was surprised she had been voted president by her classmates who never had much self-confidence.


Rewrite each phrase to be more concise.

Credit: Adapted from Kalee Hall, University Writing Center