There has been a dispute between my colleague and I between the use of a phrase in our club advertisement. We are a chemistry interest group and sometimes, I feel that new students may feel that the chemistry we do in the club may be difficult etc. Thus, I would like to add in the club advertisement that the chemistry we learn about is "simple-to-understand". However, my colleague says that the word "simple" puts people off as it makes people think that the chemistry we learn about is too simplistic and boring. This is making me extremely annoyed. So I would like to ask about the effect of the phrase "simple-to-understand" on the reader? Does it make the sentence better or worse, in the eyes of the new student?

Note: The target audience is an incoming batch of new students to the school. This advertisement's purpose is to help the club attract new members. The whole sentence is "... members are able to learn interesting and simple-to-understand chemistry outside of the school syllabus".

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    I think it's fine as it is, but you could consider "easy-to-understand" which means the same thing but avoids the undesired connotations of "simple"; or try "interesting introductory chemistry". – Chappo Hasn't Forgotten Monica Dec 10 '18 at 1:59
  • how old are you? – faustus Dec 10 '18 at 4:28
  • @faustus Is that relevant to my question? Clearly, I am of a school-going age. – Tan Yong Boon Dec 10 '18 at 4:30
  • yes. are you a junior or a senior or are you in college and referring to the School of Chemistry? – faustus Dec 10 '18 at 4:32
  • @TanYongBoon dude, don't be snarky. i needed to know what your target audience was because that would influence how you phrase things. – faustus Dec 10 '18 at 4:34

Simple may be too low brow and Chappo has suggested easy and introductory as better alternatives.

However to make it more attractive you could argue with your colleague over,

"... members are able to learn interesting and elementary chemistry outside of the school syllabus".

"... members are able to learn interesting and fundamental chemistry outside of the school syllabus".

  • Although I feel that "fundamental" has a completely different meaning, I think it sounds good and is able to convey what I have in mind. "Elementary" still makes it sound a bit too "simple". Thanks for the input. – Tan Yong Boon Dec 10 '18 at 2:50
  • Oh... I didn't realise that... Yes, the effect of that is quite good! – Tan Yong Boon Dec 10 '18 at 3:04

In my opinion, simple has a negative overtone. For example, simple things are for simpletons or fools. I do like Chappo’s suggestion easy to understand.

You may also consider, “step by step” conveying a slow, clear and methodical means of instruction.

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