Clear Technical Writing
Simple Action

Need, Buy, Get, and Keep

Simple verbs make writing clear.

We need a month to finish.

Complex verbs risk the opposite.

We require a month to finish.

The verb require is a complex version of the simple verb need. It can emphasize being demanded, and it can suggest importance as well as inner necessity.

When you do want to say something more complex, it is appropriate to use the more complex verb.

The contract states that we are required to finish within a month.

Consider another simple verb, buy.

A complex synonym is purchase.

They will buy the PPE.

They will purchase the PPE.

The verb purchase is a formal version of the simple verb, partly because of its French origin, which includes the suggestion of taking by any means.

Our board of directors concurred with the decision to purchase our largest supplier of raw materials.

Consider another simple verb, get.

A complex synonym is obtain.

We should get the final tally from the survey team.

We should obtain the final tally from the survey team.

The verb obtain can suggest the result of carefully planned effort.

The survey team re-examined the survey data to obtain a more accurate tally.

Consider another simple verb, keep.

A complex synonym is maintain.

The chiller will keep the temperature below freezing.

The chiller will maintain the temperature below freezing.

The verb maintain can emphasize avoiding deterioration, and it can suggest firmness of conviction.

The chiller was designed to maintain low temperature under the worst of conditions.

Edit your writing by underlining verbs that may be unnecessarily complex.

We require a deeper understanding of epigenomics and human disease, so we purchased a genetic analyzer. For trusted methodology, we obtained one that uses Sanger sequencing. Sharing the analyzer maintains rates competitive with commercial companies.

Lesson: Need, Buy, Get, and Keep
Module: Simple Action
Course: Clear Technical Writing