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The question below (see the picture) is from Writing in Plain Language course on Linkedin Learning. It's the second last question on the curriculum though. Well, the answer is B (the one in the middle). I already assumed before clicking C that B is correct and C is not according to the instuctor. The problem is 'Quite simple' and 'simple' have totally different meanings I believe. Why are they considered as 'unnecessary' they are necessary to me. I need them to understand the situation given. Moreover, even 'quite simple' can express two different meanings. From OALD

  1. to some degree
  2. to the greatest possible degree

Is the question (and the answer) wrong?

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3 Answers 3

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You were unfairly given a subjective question, although the clue should have been plain English which is used in good technical writing.

To make it easy, replace the words "unnecessary modifiers" with "low information content" (lic) words, which is self-explanatory.

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Ron S. Blicq author/teacher of writing, wrote in his book "Technically Write" a long list of "lic" words which are not necessary to make a true statement unless you think the reader is persuaded by emphasis or dramatic effect.

This plain style is used for business reports, accident reports, police reports and technical reports.

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  • Thank you Tony Stewart EE75. Isn't it beneficial for academic purposes?
    – user138449
    Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 1:36
  • yes for work and school Commented Aug 16, 2022 at 1:44
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It is unclear why you think that "'quite simple' and 'simple' have totally different meanings". The adverb "quite" is often called an intensifier, and it modifies the degree of "simple". However, it doesn't change the fact that the process was simple. Similarly, the intensifier "very" doesn't change the fact that the instructions were confusing. The basic meanings of answer choices B and C are the same, so whoever wrote that exercise apparently considered those modifiers to be unnecessary.

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I think this hinges on the definition of necessary. If one (C) or two (A) levels of intensifiers are needed per adjective to express an author's feelings, that's up to them, but the cleanest expression is B, as you have noted.

(There are various uses of quite, and it has a different sense when negated.)

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