Inappropriate word choice has to do with choosing a word with the wrong meaning or choosing a word that is not commonly used with the other word(s).

Collocation problem

Example 1 demonstrates a collocation problem. It is uncommon to say: “something, such as pollution, will make people  attacked by asthma or rhinitis” but you can “suffer from an asthma attack or rhinitis attack” or you can “be attacked by asthma or rhinitis”.
 
In example 2, it is okay to say that “as a result of the destruction of heritage, Hong Kong’s identity may fade” or “as a result of the destruction of heritage, Hong Kong will lose its identity”, but we cannot say “the destruction of heritage will fade/ lose Hong Kong’s identity”.
 
Example 3 can be considered as a borderline case. “The harbor worked as” is an unusual phrase. Usually, humans “work as” something (e.g. “My mother works as a housewife.”).
 
In example 4, “the water quality” is misused as the object of “decline” instead of the subject. It is right to say “the contaminants make the water quality decline” or “the water quality declines as a result of the contaminants”.
 
In example 5, “air” can be “polluted” but “air quality” cannot. However, “air quality” can be “negatively affected” by “the smoke”.
 
In example 6, “affirm” usually means “declare to be true” or “support”. “Affirm” does not collocate with urban development.
 
In example 7, “deteriorate” is an intransitive verb. So, it is wrong to say that something deteriorates something (i.e. “the harbour development deteriorates the urban development of Hong Kong”). 
 

 

WRONG
RIGHT

1.

The serious pollution will make people attacked by asthma, rhinitis.

The serious pollution will bring on asthma or rhinitis.

2.

That is why destruction of heritage will fade/lose Hong Kong’s identity and thus lower the attractiveness of Hong Kong.

That is why destruction of heritage will cause damage to Hong Kong’s identity and thus lower the attractiveness of Hong Kong.

3.

During the colonial period, Victoria Harbour worked
as
a port and turned Hong Kong into an excellent entrepot.

During the colonial period, Victoria Harbour functioned as a port and turned Hong Kong into an excellent entrepot.

4.

Contaminants in polluted mud, like heavy metals and chemicals are released to water, declining the water quality and harming marine life.

Contaminants in polluted mud, like heavy metals and chemicals are released to water, worsening the water quality and harming marine life.

5.

The smoke from the ships pollutes the harbour’s air quality.

The smoke from the ships pollutes the harbour’s air ø.

 

The smoke from the ships negatively affects the
harbour’s air quality.

6.

It is undeniable that our government has made its best effort in affirming urban development favorable for economic growth.

It is undeniable that our government has made its best effort in promoting/ enhancing urban development favorable for economic growth.

7.

Apart from that, the development of Victoria Harbour would deteriorate the urban planning of Hong Kong, especially the recreational land-use and accessibility to the harbor-front.

Apart from that, the development of Victoria Harbour would hinder/ negatively affect the urban planning of Hong Kong, especially the recreational land-use and accessibility to the harbor-front.

8.

My internship experience has prepared me for working in teams for design projects and has given me the characteristics of a team player.

My internship experience has prepared me for working in teams for design projects and has turned me into a team player.

9.

I have good language in English and Chinese. 

I have a high proficiency in English and Chinese.

I am fluent/ proficient in English and Chinese. 

 

Meaning problem

In example 10, “turning point” is generally used figuratively, and it refers to a point where decisive changes take place in life.
 
In example 11, the writer intends to suggest that “the project affects the residents and power plants”. However, the misuse of “vulnerable” results in the wrong message: “the residents and power plants are
the negative effects of the project”.

 
In example 12, “avenue” is being confused with “venue”. An “avenue” refers to a street or a road, whereas a “venue” means a place.
 
In example 13, “clamour” is wrongly used because “clamour” means “the loud and insistent shouting of people”.
 
In example 14, it is wrong to say that “an unfavorable environment has created” but it is possible to say “an unfavorable environment has been created/ has resulted”.
 
In example 15, the word “technique” is too specific to be used in the context of job application. A “technique” is a skillful way of doing something. To demonstrate your ability to do well in a job, you may use more general terms like “qualifications and skills”.
 
In example 16, the student misuses “there had” to refer to the existence of something (e.g. fun) in a place. The words “have”, “has” and “had” indicate possession (e.g. He has a book.), but a place cannot possess something. To show that something exists in a place, “there is/was” should be used instead. 
 

 

WRONG
RIGHT

10.

Moreover, Victoria Harbour is a turning point of international trade.

Moreover, Victoria Harbour is a center of international trade.

11.

This project is highly vulnerable to the
residents and power plants, which are near the land reclamation area.

This project greatly affects the residents and power plants, which are near the land reclamation area.

12.

So, Hong Kong citizens are becoming more and more unwilling to visit this over-crowded avenue.

So, Hong Kong citizens are becoming more and more unwilling to visit this over-crowded venue.

13.

Owing to the increasing numbers of residential and commercial buildings being built nearby, the clamor of the heavy traffic are disturbing surrounding people.

Owing to the increasing numbers of residential and commercial buildings being built nearby, the negative effects of the heavy traffic are disturbing surrounding people.

14.

Due to the previous massive reclamation projects, an unfavorable environment for navigation and other water activities has created.

Due to the previous massive reclamation projects, an unfavorable environment for navigation and other water activities has resulted/ has been created.

15.

My technique must bring success to your company.

My qualifications and skills must bring success to your company.

16.

I enjoyed the event very much. There had a lot of fun. 

I enjoyed the event very much. There was a lot of fun.

 

In example 17, “as time goes by” is too informal for a research report.
 

 

WRONG
RIGHT

17.

Without heritage in the harbour, the history of the Hong Kong harbour will disappear as time goes by.

Without heritage in the harbour, the history of the Hong Kong harbour will disappear over time.

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