Wordly Wise

Musings of an infinite soul

Don’t try to impress

with 2 comments

As a writer, I often fail to understand why people tend to use difficult words where easy ones can do the job just as effectively. Similarly, many writers construct rather long and complicated sentences, making it difficult for the reader to hold the thought without getting lost. Perhaps in trying to impress, writers often forget the purpose behind writing, which is to communicate.

Yes, we write to communicate our thoughts, ideas, feelings, concepts, and a multitude of other things. And simple words can be very potent if used properly. These simple statistics should make it amply clear that the most accomplished writers depend largely on simple words to communicate. An analysis of William Shakespeare’s works reveals the following statistics

  • The top 10 most frequently occurring words make up 21.4% of all words.
  • The top 100 most frequently occurring words make up 53.9% of all words.
  • The top 1% most frequently occurring words make up 66.7% of all words.

Top 15 word forms, by frequency of occurrence:

  1. the – 28,944
  2. and – 27,317
  3. i – 21,120
  4. to – 20,136
  5. of – 17,181
  6. a – 14,945
  7. you – 13,989
  8. my – 12,950
  9. in – 11,513
  10. that – 11,487
  11. is – 9,545
  12. not – 8,856
  13. with – 8,293
  14. me – 8,043
  15. it – 8,003

So the next time you’re tempted to use a difficult word, think again and use a simpler one instead – you will have William Shakespeare for company!



Written by Manoj Khatri

16 July 2006 at 7:23 pm

Posted in On Writing

2 Responses

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  1. Cool, this is amazing! This should probably be a part of academics somewhere.

    Abhijit Nadgouda

    19 July 2006 at 7:44 pm

  2. Thanks Abhi. You are very kind 🙂

    Manoj Khatri

    22 July 2006 at 11:56 am

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