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Writing Tip #10 - The thing is…

The Thing was a sci-fi movie first made in 1951 and remade a couple of times over the years. The monster was named “The Thing” because it was a previously unknown entity. Fortunately, when writing for college, we don’t have to face unknown monsters, unless, of course, we are explaining statistical analysis! “Thing” is a very versatile word, too versatile for academic writing.

Instead of using this word, eliminate it or use the word that the dictionary uses to define the particular subject about which you are writing. We have dictionaries so that professors don’t have to read sentences like: “The thing is that Pavlov’s theory was built upon by Skinner.”

Another example is: “Pavlov’s theory was the thing that Skinner studied to help form his theory of operant conditioning.”

In the first sentence, “thing” serves no useful purpose. The sentence can be written: “Skinner built on Pavlov’s theory.”

In the second sentence, the “thing” has already been named as the “theory”: “Skinner studied Pavlov’s theory. Through this study, Skinner formed his theory of operant conditioning.”

Be precise in your wording; (the thing is that) your grade will depend on it!


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Writing Skills

Published on by bcalvano.

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