© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
Th
e
t
o Z o
f
a
lte
rna
tive
w
ord
s
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© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
Calling all writers
This guide gives hundreds of plain English alternatives to the pompous words and phrases
that litter official writing. On its own the guide won’t teach you how to write in plain English.
There’s more to it than just replacing ‘hard’ words with ‘easy’ words, and many of these
alternatives won’t work in every situation. But it will help if you want to get rid of words like
‘notwithstanding’, ‘expeditiously’ and phrases like ‘in the majority of instances’ and ‘ at this
moment in time’. And using everyday words is an important first step towards clearer
writing.
Copyright
Plain English Campaign owns the copyright on this guide. You must not copy it without
getting our permission first. You can download your own copy from our website
(www.plainenglish.co.uk).
Using the A to Z
If you find yourself about to write, type or dictate a word you wouldn’t use in every day
conversation, look it up in the A to Z. You should find a simpler alternative. Often there will
be a choice of several words. You need to pick the one that best fits what you are trying to
say.
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© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
A
(an) absence of
no, none
abundance
enough, plenty, a lot (or say how many)
accede to
allow, agree to
accelerate
speed up
accentuate
stress
accommodation
where you live, home
accompanying
with
accomplish
do, finish
according to our records
our records show
accordingly
in line with this, so
acknowledge
thank you for
acquaint yourself with
find out about, read
acquiesce
agree
acquire
buy, get
additional
extra, more
adjacent
next to
adjustment
change, alteration
admissible
allowed, acceptable
advantageous
useful, helpful
advise
tell, say (unless you are giving advice)
affix
add, write, fasten, stick on, fix to
afford an opportunity
let, allow
afforded
given
aforesaid
this, earlier in this document
aggregate
total
aligned
lined up, in line
alleviate
ease, reduce
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© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
allocate
divide, share, add, give
along the lines of
like, as in
alternative
choice, other
alternatively
or, on the other hand
ameliorate
improve, help
amendment
change
anticipate
expect
apparent
clear, plain, obvious, seeming
applicant (the)
you
application
use
appreciable
large, great
apprise
inform, tell
appropriate
proper, right, suitable
appropriate to
suitable for
approximately
about, roughly
as a consequence of
because
as of the date of
from
as regards
about, on the subject of
ascertain
find out
assemble
build, gather, put together
assistance
help
at an early date
soon (or say when)
at its discretion
can, may (or edit out)
at the moment
now (or edit out)
at the present time
now (or edit out)
attempt
try
attend
come to, go to, be at
attributable to
due to, because of
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© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
authorise
allow, let
authority
right, power, may (as in ‘have the authority
to’)
axiomatic
obvious, goes without saying
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© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
B
belated
late
beneficial
helpful, useful
bestow
give, award
breach
break
by means of
by
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© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
C
calculate
work out, decide
cease
finish, stop, end
circumvent
get round, avoid, skirt, circle
clarification
explanation, help
combine
mix
combined
together
commence
start, begin
communicate
talk, write, telephone (be specific)
competent
able, can
compile
make, collect
complete
fill in, finish
completion
end
comply with
keep to, meet
component
part
comprise
make up, include
(it is) compulsory
(you) must
conceal
hide
concerning
about, on
conclusion
end
concur
agree
condition
rule
consequently
so
considerable
great, important
constitute
make up, form
construe
interpret
consult
talk to, meet, ask
© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
consumption
amount used
contemplate
think about
contrary to
against, despite
correct
put right
correspond
write
costs the sum of
costs
counter
against
courteous
polite
cumulative
added up, added together
currently
now (or edit out)
customary
usual, normal
© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
D
deduct
take off, take away
deem to be
treat as
defer
put off, delay
deficiency
lack of
delete
cross out
demonstrate
show, prove
denote
show
depict
show
designate
point out, show, name
desire
wish, want
despatch or dispatch
send, post
despite the fact that
though, although
determine
decide, work out, set, end
detrimental
harmful, damaging
difficulties
problems
diminish
lessen, reduce
disburse
pay, pay out
discharge
carry out
disclose
tell, show
disconnect
cut off, unplug
discontinue
stop, end
discrete
separate
discuss
talk about
disseminate
spread
documentation
papers, documents
domiciled in
living in
© Plain English Campaign 2001
The A to Z of alternative words
dominant
main
due to the fact of
because, as
duration
time, life
during which time
while
dwelling
home
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