The Most Misused Word in Primary School Compositions
I was marking some essays when I suddenly came across a word that was used inappropriately. I circled that word, and left a comment “Inappropriate”. And continued marking.
I only managed to get through 2-3 sentences … then suddenly, that word appeared again!
Did you manage to catch what is the misused word?
“Suddenly, the teacher called my name.”
“Suddenly, there was a knock on the door.”
“Suddenly, I remembered it was her birthday.”
“Suddenly, the tortoise crawled to the finishing line.”
These are just a few of the many ways students misuse the word ‘suddenly’. (Okay, I made the last one up!)
There’s nothing wrong with the word ‘suddenly’. It’s just the way students are using it. They are using it for every little thing that happens in their story, whether it was a sudden occurrence or not. And trust me, most of the time it’s not. They are peppering and overusing that word all over their compos like a kid in a home-economics cooking class who doesn’t understand the term “a pinch of chilli powder”. Now that makes for rather unsavoury reading.
Why do students keep using that word?
Most students keep using that word due to the following reasons:
- limited vocabulary
- lack of starter words
- unable to describe a transition of events
So you used the word ‘suddenly’ a few sentences ago? Have a strong urge to use it again? Here are some other synonyms that you can use so that you don’t sound like a repetitive, broken record.
- All of a sudden
- Without warning
- Out of the blue
- On the spur of the moment
- caught unaware
Other Sentence Starters
Struggling to find a word to start your sentence? Not everything happens ‘suddenly’. Here are other words you can consider. Some are used to change the focus of the story, while some are used to show a passage of time. Use the right word for the right context.
- Instantly / Immediately
- Later on
- After that
- After a while
- At that moment
- A few seconds later / A few minutes later
- Moments later
- Within minutes
- Eventually / finally
- Before long
Do away with starter words!
Another option to consider when writing is to do away with starter words. Wean off your reliance on starter words! Throw away that crutch!
It’s perfectly fine to write sentences without starter words.
What matters more in your writing is a variation of words and sentence structures for smooth, comprehensive reading.
Consider this example:
Suddenly, the teacher called my name.
Now, the word ‘suddenly’ is being used too freely here. In fact, it seems rather pointless. (Unless the teacher calling your name is a big deal!)
The teacher called my name.
Notice that your sentence now seems so simple and straight to the point. The meaning is still the same.
What? You want something a little more ‘flowery’?
The teacher called my name in a loud, booming voice.
“Tommy!” the teacher boomed.
Notice that suddenly, you do not need to use the word ‘suddenly’.
Save it for the Really Climatic Moments
So when should you use the word ‘suddenly’?
You use it when the context or situation rrreaaallly calls for it. Meaning, the event that occurs have to be really sudden. In most cases, it can be used in the climatic moment of the story.
Please remember not to overuse it. Consider the other synonyms that I have mentioned above.
After all, you do not want to suddenly find yourself staring down at some lousy compo marks…
(You may also want to see how our top students write Model Compositions for Students in Singapore.)
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