What is a qualifier?

A qualifier is a word or phrase that tempers the language nearby. Words like fairly, rather, somewhat, and relatively, and expressions like seems to be, a little, and a certain amount of limit the severity of other words or phrases they modify.

Why use qualifiers?

Writing an Analysis of Issue essay is like walking a tight rope. You must be persuasive about your argument, yet you cannot be excessively one-sided. There are no clear-cut answers to Analysis of Issue questions, so do not overstate your case. To express that you are reasonable, sporadically use qualifiers in your essay. Qualifiers show that you are conscious of the nuances of the issue at hand and that you understand both sides of it.

Be careful!

As useful as qualifiers are, excessive qualification will dilute your argument and weaken the essay.

WORDY: The Hess spy case was a rather serious breach of national security and likely helped the Soviets.

CONCISE: The Hess spy case breached national security and helped the Soviets.

Too many qualifiers in the first sentence make it vague and confusing. Remember, you want to be clear about what you are saying, just not unreasonably opinionated.

Clear up the following sentences by eliminating excessive qualifiers.

Drill #1. You yourself are the very best person to decide what you should do for a living.

EXPLANATION

Answer. You are the best person to decide what you should do for a living.

Drill #2. It is possible that the author overstates his case somewhat.

EXPLANATION

Answer. The author overstates his case somewhat.

Drill #3. The president perhaps should use a certain amount of diplomacy before he resorts to force.

EXPLANATION

Answer. The president should use diplomacy before he resorts to force.

Drill #4. In Italy, I found about the best food I have ever eaten.

EXPLANATION

Answer. In Italy I found the best food I have ever eaten.

Drill #5. Needless to say, children should be taught to cooperate at home and in school.

EXPLANATION

Answer. Children should be taught to cooperate at home and in school.

If there’s no need to say it, don’t!