Awkward Sentences

AWK (Awkward) is an abbreviation some copy editors use to tell writers that they they find a sentence, phrase, and word to be confusing.

This confusion can be attributable to

  1. Ambiguous pronouns
    1. Clarify who or what you are referring to when you use pronouns like “he” or “it.”
  2. Awkward Word Order
  3. Brevity, Concision
  4. Missing words or phrases: A missing word or phrase can obscure meaning and cause confusion. Insert missing words or phrases to complete the intended thought.
  5. Misplaced or dangling modifiers:
    • If a modifier is misplaced or is modifying a subject not mentioned in the sentence, the message could be misleading or confusing to the reader. Place modifiers as close as possible to the object being modified.
  6. Nominalizations
    1. –i.e., nouns made from verbs.
    • When a writer turns verbs into nouns, they are removing the action from the sentence.
  7. Jumbled Word Order
  8. Subject-verb order:
    • The English language usually follows the pattern subject-verb-object (SVO), but other languages may follow different patterns. Non-native English speakers may need to check their sentences for appropriate syntactical construction.
      • Example of SVO: The scholarly article explains theories on global warming. Subject = article; Verb = explains; Object = theories
      • Example of OSV: Theories on global warming the scholarly article explains. (awkward)
  9. Unclear Pronouns & Antecedents
  10. Unnecessary prepositional phrases.