Award-Winning Words II


Time to see if you can read my mind again. Come up with a word to replace the underlined section in #1 and another word for the underlined section in #2. (Hint: The words are the same except for the first two letters.)

1. The company has a great number of holdings in the Midwest.

2. The company’s very thorough interviewing process is a key to the high caliber of its staff.

Your answers and a few notes

Extensive, in #1, performed the work of four words, but there are other reasons to appreciate “extensive” beyond its economy. One is that – although we never want to tax our reader or show off – we sometimes want more elegant words than those we’ve used since first grade, such as “big,” “large,” “huge,” and “tremendous.” Having words like “extensive” at our fingertips helps us uplift the quality of our writing without sending anyone to the dictionary to look up a word like “prodigious.”

So we might think of “extensive” as the kind of semiprecious words we want to steadily add to our repertoire. We don’t need diamonds to be an ace writer; clear, semiprecious words will do.

Intensive works nicely in #2. As noted in other posts, the word “very” can often tip us off that the next word is inadequate, and “intensive” eliminates the need to write “very thorough.”

Note also that “intensive” is slightly tricky because its meaning is so close to “intense.” What’s the difference? The dictionary points out that “intensive” is a more exterior or objective description. “Intense” is more interior or subjective. So if we weather a firm’s intensive interview process, we are likely to find the experience intense.

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