It is always taught to use simple English in day-to-day life and I follow it carefully. As a student in IT sector, I use simple English myself as this particular industry does not revolve around beautiful English, rather the core subject only. In my spare time, I write articles and ebooks for various clients through a website. But it is my personal observation that, not only non-native people, but also native people are more inclined to those articles which include most of the so-called sophisticated words. They reject those articles easily which use simple and normal English; yet makes no delay in accepting articles with hard English.

Thinking from non-native mindset, using harder English can help getting more respect as it shows the knowledge level of the speaker in a foreign language. However, I can not see any logic for native people to be inclined to harder English. Is this phenomena an exception? Or it has some base?

  • 4
    This is merely my opinion: you'll impress people more if you manage to communicate clearly and effectively than if you use "so-called sophisticated words". But sometimes using less common words is the clearest way to communicate something. You have to determine that for yourself based on your audience and on the context. When you decide to use a word you think your audience isn't likely to understand, try to emphasize that word and define it clearly. Use it as a centerpiece rather than a passing ornament, to be passed by and forgotten, never understood.
    – user230
    Aug 30, 2013 at 14:51
  • (And when I write something that is not clear and easily understood, as I often do, I consider it a failing rather than an achievement. I'm not trying to hold up my own writing as a good example.)
    – user230
    Aug 30, 2013 at 15:01

2 Answers 2


It depends on the motivation. Some words do a better job of more accurately conveying a specific meaning. For example, space is big; so is a Hummer. But it would better to say that space is vast and Hummers are roomy. I wouldn't talk about the roominess of space or the vastness of Hummers. So, in this case I'm not using fancier words just to sound more erudite, I'm using them because they are more accurate and descriptive.

On the other hand, if someone uses a more "sophisticated" word when a simpler one will do just fine, that can sound pretentious and off-putting.

The end goal, usually, is to strive for simplicity over complexity, and accuracy over ambiguity. Don't be afraid to use sophisticated words when they add depth to your sentences, or clarity of meaning and intent.

Native people are more inclined to those articles which include most of the so-called sophisticated words... using harder English can help getting more respect as it shows the knowledge level of the speaker

I don't think people is quite correct. For one, people aren't naturally drawn toward articles with more sophisticated words, but they may be drawn toward articles that are well-written. Command of language and a depth of vocabulary can make someone's writing more interesting to read. Also, using a harder English word won't buy a non-native any additional respect if the word isn't used properly - in fact, quite the opposite might happen.

  • 2
    "the vastness of Hummers"... For some reason that made me laugh out loud (literally). Very nice :) Excellent answer all around as well; I think you've hit the nail on the head. One point that I think you implied but didn't state outright is that someone who can produce well-written articles most likely has more experience writing (and therefore more experience with the language) and so might be naturally more exposed to more "sophisticated" words, so that could be a reason why you might find a higher percentage of them in their works. +1!
    – WendiKidd
    Aug 30, 2013 at 20:16
  • 1
    "People may be drawn toward articles that are well-written"... Yes, and especially in a technical area, they may assume that language proficiency reflects technical proficiency. That is, if an article has poor grammar or unclear writing, the technical advice is also suspect. I am not commenting on whether this judgement is fair or not, just that it happens.
    – Peter
    Sep 10, 2014 at 16:20

If you look at some of the most admired users of English, you'll see some variation, but many use quite simple English words. They just use them very well.

Perhaps no one is more admired than Shakespeare, at least for English usage; yet his plays use simple words quite often. The "to be or not to be" soliloquy is almost entirely one and two syllable words. The Gettysburg Address, similarly, uses mostly simple words.

One thing that sounds (and reads) particularly badly is the misuse of sophisticated words. Unless you are fluent (and easily fluent) you are likely to misuse word; you may also make grammatical mistakes. This (at least to me) always sounds rather pretentious. It also can be hard to read.

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .