What this handout is about

This handout will define what qualifiers are and also how you can use castle wisely.

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Qualifiers and also intensifiers room words or phrases the are added to an additional word to change its meaning, either by limiting the (He was somewhat busy) or by improving it (The dog was an extremely cute). Qualifiers deserve to play crucial role in your writing, providing your leader clues around how i was sure you feel around the details you’re presenting. In fact, “hedging” (as that is sometimes called) is critical feature of academic writing, because academic writers need to plainly indicate whether they think insurance claims are certain, likely, unlikely, or just false. However excessive usage of qualifiers can make friend sound unsure of her facts; it can additionally make her writing as well informal.

Qualifiers can be her friends

Qualifiers are regularly necessary, together as as soon as your proof or your insurance claim is open to doubt. In such cases, using a qualifier permits you to existing your findings through what we can call “confident sommos.netertainty,” which mirrors a have to be mindful and an important about the data you’re presenting. Periodically you might be compelled to existing your ideas prior to you have had a chance to completely interpret your research study findings. At various other times, you might want to remind readers of the limitations of your details research.

Here are some words and phrases the can assist you show sommos.netertainty:


It’s also very important to distinguish between absolute or universal insurance claims (in which you are asserting the something is true constantly and everywhere) and much more particular cases (in i m sorry you room asserting something yet recognizing that your claim has limits). Let’s take it a look at some absolute words and some much more qualified alternatives:

WillMay, might, could
Forms of “be” (am, is, are, was, were)May be, might have been, may have actually been
AllMany, most, some, numerous, countless, a majority
Every(Same as “all”)
None/noFew, not many, a tiny number, solid any, a minority
AlwaysOften, frequently, commonly, because that a long time, usually, sometimes, repeatedly
NeverRarely, infrequently, sporadically, seldom
CertainlyProbably, possibly
ImpossibleUnlikely, improbable, doubtful

How lot doubt carry out you want to create?

In most scholastic writing, you do an debate to support a thesis. To make a solid argument, you’ll must convince readers of your points. Take into consideration these two sentences:

President Nixon more than likely resigned together a an outcome of the Watergate cover-up.

President Nixon resigned as a an outcome of the Watergate cover-up.

The an initial sentence renders your reader doubt the conclusion you’ve come at; the latter sentence leaves no doubt around your dispute for the causes of Nixon’s resignation. How deserve to you recognize which sentence come choose? You’ll need to think around the affect your choices will have on her reader.

Qualifiers refer doubt; they leave your reader wondering if you recognize what you’re talking about. Constructions like it shows up that and it seems likely that diminish the strength of her claims. Periodically that’s exactly what friend want, once you don’t want to overstate her case and cannot justify making a stronger, more direct claim. But if you room confident of your evidence, using solid qualifiers prefer these have the right to lead your reader to doubt even if it is you understand what you space talking around or to think that you room not willing to take obligation for her ideas.

Consider the two examples below. Walk the writer sound i was sure in her expertise of the theory of Freud and also Weber?

It appears that Freud believed the sommos.netonscious played a far-reaching role in behavior.

Max Weber appears to argue that capitalism arises partly out of good news values.

Does Freud in reality think that the sommos.netonscious affects people’s behavior? does Weber really think capitalism arises from protestant values? If so, the writer must probably just make those claims, without the qualifiers.Here room some instances of native to keep an eye on (in addition to the qualifiers already listed above):

BasicallyEssentiallyGenerallyKind ofMostlyPrettyRatherSlightlySomewhatSort ofVariousVirtually

Qualifiers and also your writing style

Writing that consists of too numerous qualifiers can sound sommos.netlear and also wordy. We often rely ~ above qualifiers—especially intensifiers—because us either don’t recognize or don’t take the time to find the proper word. Instead we construct our meaning by employing a not-quite-right word v a qualifier added to strengthen or to tone under a noun or verb.

Anna Karenina is a somewhat admirable character.Better: Anna Karenina is a sympathetic character.

December in Moscow is really cold.Better: December in Moscow is freezing.

The design template of neighborhood is very important in Russian literature.Better: The theme of community is central in Russian literature.

In each of the above examples, the second sentence employs a word through a an ext precise meaning and is more concise.

“She was really happy” doesn’t catch the nuances that have the right to be expressed by “overjoyed,” “thrilled,” or “ecstatic.”Pay one-of-a-kind attention come these commonly overused intensifiers:

A lotReallyVery

The qualifier habit

Using numerous qualifiers can become a habit. Occasionally it carries over from the method you speak—perhaps you are a dramatic storyteller that uses many intensifiers to express your strong feelings. Sometimes it shows your relationship to writing, or to your readers—perhaps friend feel that you room a “bad writer” and also cannot write with confidence, or perhaps you room writing for an intimidating audience, and you room using qualifiers to do your cases as humble as possible in hopes of preventing criticism or disagreement. While girlfriend can definitely compensate because that a habit that overusing qualifiers by including another stage to your editing process (as we’ll discuss in a moment), the may also be worth thinking about how to adjust your attitudes and practices. If you room using qualifiers to shot to produce interest and drama, perhaps you can explore other strategies that would certainly be an ext appropriate for scholastic writing, like using more powerful verbs and also including more interesting details. If you are using qualifiers due to the fact that of a lack of confidence, ask yourself: perform I need to do an ext research to feel confident of my claims? perform I need to talk with my regular readers and also let them know an ext about the type of feedback the are, and are not, valuable for me? carry out I need to practice gaining feedback from part “friendly” readers in order to feel more comfortable with that facet of the writing process?


Suppose you’ve realized the you use the native on the above lists too often and have addressed to cut back. However how? One method is to read through your file and circle all the adverbs and also adjectives. Then study each one and see even if it is it accurately and concisely conveys her intended meaning.

It confirmed to it is in very hard come overturn Plessy v. Ferguson.Better: It showed to it is in difficult come overturn Plessy v. Ferguson.

In current years the Electoral college has end up being very controversial.Better: In current years the Electoral college has come to be controversial.

The residence Ways and means Committee is basically among the most powerful congressional committees.

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Better: The home Ways and method Committee is among the most an effective congressional committees.

We hope the this handout will assist you make confident, ideal choices about using qualifiers in her writing!

This occupational is license is granted under a an innovative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 4.0 License.You may reproduce it for non-commercial usage if you use the entire handout and also attribute the source: The creating Center, university of phibìc Carolina at Chapel Hill