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Commonly misused phrases

A number of phrases are commonly but wrongly used to introduce previous studies or results. These phrases can almost always be deleted, so that the facts are stated succinctly (see also Introduction ).

avoid

It is well known that there are three forms of NO synthase…”

In a previous study it was demonstrated that Iba 1 was detected   in monocytic cells.”

“The role of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in MPGN has not been   elucidated yet.”

“Excessive in vitro LPS-induced production of IL-1 in chronic   liver diseases and their correlation with hepatic fibrosis has   been reported

“GST-F was also shown to bind to…”

better

“There are three forms of NO synthase…”

“Iba 1 was detected in monocytic cells (Lopez et al 1995).”

(Inclusion of the reference here indicates that this was found in a previous report)

“The role of cytotoxic T lymphocytes in MPGN is not known.”

“Hepatic fibrosis is associated with excessive in vitro   LPS-induced production of IL-1 in chronic liver diseases”

“GST-F bound to…”



Other commonly used unnecessary phrases which can usually be deleted completely include:

– “there are many papers stating…”

– “it is pointed out that…”

– “it was observed that…”

– “it is reasonable to surmise that…”

– “evidence has been presented that shows that…”

– “it is speculated that…”

– “it is reported that the…”

– “it was found that…”

– “as a result, it was observed that…”

– “…has been demonstrated…”

Use one word for a phrase.

Many unecessary phrases are used by both native and non-native English speakers. Avoiding these phrases is a simple way to make your writing clearer. The following examples should all be replaced by a single word.

avoid better
in view of the foregoing circumstances therefore
are found to be in agreement agree
has the ability to can
has the capability of can
(with) the passage of time (with) time
at this point in time now
due to the fact that because
examined in comparison to compared to
for the purpose of for
by means of by
a small number of few
a large number of many


Or can be deleted completely:

avoid “The CD57 expression on CD8+ cells in certain viral infections, such as CMV and HIV, has been demonstrated.”
better “CD8+ cells express CD57 in certain viral infections, such as CMV and HIV.”

The correct phrase is almost always shorter.

For a longer list of jargon, unecessary phrases and tautology, go to Appendix 2.


A few specific phrases are commonly mistranslated by Japanese authors:

almost the same = equivalent, comparable

One commonly misused expression is “almost the same”.

Results may be “the same” or “identical”, or they may be “equivalent” (the closest expression to the same), “similar”, or “comparable” in scientific writing. But “almost the same” is a more casual and inappropriate expression.

avoid: ‘Patients in groups A and B had almost the same incidence of vascular complications’

better:

‘Patients in groups A and B had an equivalent incidence of vascular complications’

avoid: ‘Almost the same pattern of Zic 1 expression was seen in wild-type embryos’

better:

‘A similar pattern of Zic 1 expression was seen in wild-type embryos’

Comparable and equivalent are used for quantitative comparisons:

example:

“Equivalent levels of sox 7 protein expression were found in…”

“Comparable levels of sox 7 protein expression were found in…”


on the contrary = in contrast

‘On the contrary’ is a subjective statement that indicates disagreement or opposition to a statement or opinion given by someone else. Therefore it is usually only used in spoken English.

‘In contrast’ is an objective statement of a marked difference or opposite effect, and should therefore be used in scientific writing.

avoid   On the contrary, no H3 antibody reactivity was seen in yeast

better

In contrast, no H3 antibody reactivity was seen in yeast

avoid   On the contrary, there were no adverse effects in group B

better

In contrast, there were no adverse effects in group B

But in spoken English:

“I think the American stock market will continue to grow.”

On the contrary, I think it will begin a slow decline very soon.”

On the other hand = However/In contrast

The transition on the other handis frequently misused in English translations from Japanese. This phrase is usually used as a translation of mata ippou dewa,which is a transition that indicates a slight change in topic. In English, in this situation it is usually unecessary to use any transition. If there is a comparison/contrast being made, then transitions such as however,or if a difference is really being emphasised, in contrast(but not on the contrary) may be used (see above).
Overall, on the other handis very rarely used in Scientific English, generally being more appropriate for conversation, and if you are in doubt, don’t use it.