If you are like most people, you often diligently read a text, only to find that it didn’t make much sense to you. You know that understanding is a vital part of reading, and in this article I will describe one of the problems that causes these problems. You will learn about the role that generalization plays.

Remember how your teacher advised you to avoid using words that were too vague or difficult to read? There are several ways this can occur while you are writing. Let’s examine the first one now. One of the biggest culprits in making text difficult to understand is adverbs. Adverbs are often used as a substitute for nouns, but can easily be confusing. Let me give you a specific example. What am I writing about in the following few sentences:

“This is an easy thing to do. If possible you can do this at home, but you will probably want to do this someplace else.”

What am I writing about? Let’s rewrite these sentences uses complete nouns and watch how much more meaning they convey:

“Swimming is an easy thing to do. If possible you can swim in a pool at your home, but you will probably want to do this at the beach or gym.”

See how much more meaningful these sentences became when I substituted nouns for adverbs?

When you are reading a text that is rich in adverbs, it very important to quickly determine the main theme or idea that is being explored. It will help you to fill create a more specific meaning for the adverbs by substituting nouns with greater significance.

Although adverbs can be responsible for confusing generalizations in text, they are not alone in their ability to create this problem. In my next article, I will explore the second part of speech that can cause reading comprehension difficulties.

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