Thursday, November 10, 2005

Omit needless words - Part 2

I could give you a mile-long list of wordy phrases to avoid, but that wouldn't be as helpful as giving you some important patterns to watch out for. The left side of the list below shows examples of the main patterns of phrasing that result in wordiness. The right side shows potential alternatives.

  • the question as to whether >>> whether or the question whether
  • there is no doubt but that >>> no doubt or doubtless
  • used for fuel purposes >>> used for fuel
  • for safety purposes >>> for safety
  • for the purpose of >>> for
  • he is a man who >>> he
  • in a hasty manner >>> hastily
  • this is a subject that >>> this subject
  • Her story is a strange one. >>> Her story is strange.
  • the reason why is that >>> because

Let's look at some examples of sentences that follow these patterns and how you could revise them:

The question as to whether we should recall our ambassador is being debated.
We are debating whether to recall our ambassador.

There is no doubt but that he is the guilty party.
Doubtless, he is the guilty party.

The author worded the sentence that way for the purpose of conciseness.
The author worded the sentence that way for conciseness.

The Congressman acted in a deceitful manner.
The Congressman acted deceitfully.

This example is a brief one.
This example is brief.

If you avoid these wordy constructions, you eliminate much wordiness in your writing.

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