Word Choice in Writing Practice Exercises

Updated on Apr 25, 2014

Read the following study guide for a concept review:

Word Choice in Writing Study Guide

Exercise 1


Below are several sentences with a blank. Following each sentence are three words or phrases that all have similar denotations, but different connotations. See how the sentence sounds with each word in the blank. Then rank those words by connotation, marking the word with the strongest connotation 1 and the word with the weakest, or most neutral, connotation 3.

  • Example: I'm feeling kind of ________ today.
    • ____ down
    • ____ depressed
    • ____ discouraged
  • Ranked by connotation:
    • down
    • depressed
    • discouraged

____ unwell

____ sick

____ under the weather

____ well off

____ rich

____ loaded

____ courage

____ guts

____ confidence

____ worn out

____ beat

____ exhausted

____ lie

____ fib

____ half-truth

____ risky

____ dangerous

____ life-threatening

  1. Joe has been looking a little ________ lately.
  2. Our new neighbors are ________.
  3. It takes a lot of ________ to do what he did.
  4. I'm totally ________.
  5. She told him a ________.
  6. This is clearly a ________ situation.

Exercise 2


Read the paired sentences below, making careful observations as you read. Then answer the inference questions that follow. Be sure to support your answers with specific observations from the sentences.

Pair 1

A. Let's get together as soon as possible.
B. Let's meet as soon as we are able.

  1. Which sentence suggests that the writer has a more formal relationship with the reader?
  2. Which sentence suggests that the writer is more anxious to meet with the reader?

Pair 2

A. Rhonda has a very colorful way of speaking.
B. Rhonda has a very showy way of speaking.

  1. Which sentence is more critical of Rhonda? How can you tell?

Pair 3

A. They have been meeting in the hope of clearing up their differences.
B. They have begun negotiations in an attempt to resolve their conflict.

  1. Which sentence seems more hopeful about the outcome?
  2. Which sentence describes a more serious situation?
  3. Which sentence suggests a more informal relationship between the parties that are meeting?


Exercise 1

  1. 2, 1, 3
  2. 3, 2, 1
  3. 2, 1, 3
  4. 2, 3, 1
  5. 1, 2, 3
  6. 3, 2, 1

Exercise 2

They are meeting, not negotiating; they hope to clear up rather than resolve; they have differences, not a conflict. These words are not only less serious; they're also less formal.

  1. Sentence B suggests a more formal relationship between reader and writer. In sentence B, the writer uses the word meet while the writer of sentence A uses the less formal get together.
  2. Sentence A suggests that the writer is more anxious to meet with the reader. In sentence A, the writer uses the phrase as soon as possible, while the writer of sentence B uses the less urgent phrase as soon as we are able.
  3. Sentence B is more critical. The word showy suggests that she's a bit too colorful.
  4. Sentence A seems more hopeful, since it uses less serious words throughout: meeting instead of negotiations; in the hope instead of in an attempt; clearing up instead of the more serious resolve; and differences, which is much milder than conflict.
  5. Sentence B clearly describes a more serious situation. See the answer for 4.
  6. The word choice in sentence A suggests a more informal relationship between the parties.
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