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Skidmore College
The Skidmore Guide to Writing

Vague (abstract, unclear)

If a sentence or passage is vague, it often contains abstract rather than concrete nouns. Here are some other causes of vagueness:

  • a pronoun doesn't have a clear noun to which it refers
  • you've written "this" to refer to an idea from a previous sentence, but it's not clear what idea you mean
  • you've put so many clauses between the subject and verb that the sentence is hard to follow.

If you find that your writing is vague or unclear

  • make sure that each time you use a pronoun, you can point to the noun that it replaces
  • always place a noun after "this"
  • make sure that your verb follows your subject, without any clauses in between.

"Vague" is a comment professors often make in their comments about essays. Click here to see others.