We’ve been gathering aggregated anonymised data on the most common words our users sought synonyms for over a three-month period. Here are the top words and more readable alternatives. 

1 | ‘Understanding’ 

Thousands of you sought synonym suggestions for the word ‘understanding’. It’s four syllables; whilst it not flagged as a ‘hard word’, it is flagged as a ‘long word’. If chose often enough over shorter options, this word will reduce your overall readability. 

Interestingly, this word points to a key concept of readability. Your reader could understand your text, but its wordiness could still make it difficult to read. Readability is about good comprehension, but also about making your writing a joy to read. 

Readable suggests a discreet group of synonyms with fewer syllables. 

Here are some other words you could use instead:

  • Empathy
  • Compassion
  • Awareness 

2 | ‘Communication’ 

The rather appropriate ‘understanding’ is closely followed by another apt word, ‘communication’. With five syllables, this is considered a ‘hard word’. Connecting with your audience is all about clarity. 

Here are some words Readable suggests as alternatives:

As this article gives writing tips, it may be prudent to click the word ‘advice’ to replace the word. 

Here are some other alternatives:

  • Message
  • Connection
  • Discussion 

These should be adjusted to the context of the sentence. In this case, your sentence might be changed to, ‘make a connection using simple language’, or ‘a good message uses simple language’.

3 | ‘Opportunity’

‘Opportunity’, and its plural form ‘opportunities’, was a common word with our users for seeking alternatives. This is a trickier word to replace – ‘moment’ could work in some cases. ‘At the earliest opportunity’ could be replaced with ‘at your earliest convenience’ to reduce the phrase by a syllable. Every little helps. 

4 | ‘Individuals’

As well as being a mouthful, this word is a little impersonal. It’s great to write in a gender-neutral way, but what’s wrong with ‘people’? It’s only two syllables and it’s more humanising. ‘Individuals’ feels a little distant. 

5 | ‘Associated’

Another common hard word flagged in Readable is ‘associated’. This racks up five syllables. This seemingly innocuous word could be increasing your Flesch Kincaid grade level. Instead, use words that serve the purpose without losing its meaning: 

You could also use ‘connected’.

Laura Kelly

Laura is a Marketing Executive at Readable. She loves coffee, literature, weightlifting and film photography.