Site icon ELA Brave and True by Marilyn Yung

Will the phrase “stuck out” please go away?

Here are six better alternatives

I’ve noticed this for quite a while now. Have you? I have several student writers who use the term “stick out” or “stuck out” in their writing in an unusual way. Here are some examples:

Yes, talking about how things stick out is fine. It’s colloquial. It’s informal. It’s idiomatic.

However, in formal writing, especially academic writing, it’s imprecise and inappropriately casual.

After all, things don’t stick out.

Instead, here are six things they actually do:

  1. They make an impression.
  2. They are significant.
  3. They assume prominence.

4. They rise above.

5. They take precedence.

6. They reveal their importance.

I plan to offer these six alternatives the next time I read about things sticking out to my students. Let’s rephrase those phrases at the top of this post with these more precise alternative phrasings.

Writer’s workshop is starting up next week with my juniors. When I notice this pesky little phrase “sticking up” in my students’ writing, I’ll make sure to offer them some better options… at least for their more formal writing projects.

Have you noticed this usage issue? How do you approach eliminating it in student writing? Feel free to leave a comment below or on my contact page.

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Treasured Object Poems

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