How You Can Tighten Your Writing (Part 2): Avoiding Hedging and Qualifiers

David Silverberg
2 min readOct 31, 2022

In this second part of a four-part series on writing tight, I want to break down one of the less obvious but detrimental offences a writer can commit: using evasive language such as qualifiers.

What does that mean? Qualifiers such as “most” and “often” and “many” dot our spoken language but they weaken written sentences. The more a writer uses these qualifiers, the less confident they sound.

I’ve come across lines in articles written by beginners that resemble a teen hesitating to profess his passion to a potential prom date:

Many Canadians, perhaps most, often watch hockey.

There are three qualifiers in that short line — many, most, often — when a stronger sentence would have done that work.

Canadians love hockey.

I teach my coaching clients that hedging or backing into what you want to express signals to readers you aren’t fully confident about your words. It stems from using passive voice, hiding behind it when we aren’t sure about the veracity of our statements.

Instead of “I failed the student,” the passive writer will pen, “It was decided that a failing mark would be given to the students.” Find the subject to make it act and take responsibility for that action…



David Silverberg

Freelance journalist. Editor. Writing coach. I blog about how to earn more and level up your skills as a freelance writer.