AWK (Awkward) is an abbreviation some teachers and copy editors use to tell writers that they find some bit of discourse –perhaps a word, phrase, clause, sentence — to be unnecessarily confusing.
AWK, for Awkward, is shorthand: it’s an informal way for a reviewer (see Critique) to provide critical feedback.
Experienced writers use AWK to reference a number of problems, including
- Ambiguous pronouns
- Clarify who or what you are referring to when you use pronouns like “he” or “it.”
- Brevity, Concision
- 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.
- 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.
- –i.e., nouns made from verbs.
- When a writer turns verbs into nouns, they are removing the action from the sentence.
- Jumbled Syntax
- 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)
- Unnecessary prepositional phrases.