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Patterns of Wordiness

Patterns of Wordiness

As you read the following list, consider which patterns are typical of your writing:

·  Omit the filler phrases "it is," "there is," and "there are" at the beginning of sentences; these often delay the sentence's true subject and verb.

  • Wordy

It is expensive to upgrade computer systems.

  • Concise

Upgrading computer systems is expensive.

·  Omit "this" from the beginning of a sentence by joining it to the preceding sentence with a comma.

  • Wordy

Chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from aerosols. This has lessened the ozone layer's depletion.

  • Concise

Chlorofluorocarbons have been banned from aerosols, lessening the ozone layer's depletion.

·  Change "which" or "that" constructions to an "-ing" word.

  • Wordy

The committee, which meets monthly, oversees accounting procedures and audits.

  • Concise

The committee, meeting monthly, oversees accounting procedures and audits.

·  Omit "which" or "that" altogether when possible.

  • Wordy

Because the fluid, which was brown and poisonous, was dumped into the river, the company that was negligent had to shut down.

  • Concise

Because the brown, poisonous fluid was dumped into the river, the negligent company had to shut down.

·  Replace passive verbs with active verbs. In passive constructions, the subject of the sentence is being acted upon; in active constructions, the subject is the actor.

  • Wordy

Rain forests are being destroyed by uncontrolled logging.

  • Concise

Uncontrolled logging is destroying rain forests.

·  Change "is" or "was" when they occur alone to a strong verb.

  • Wordy

A new fire curtain is necessary for the stage.

  • Concise

The stage needs a new fire curtain.

·  Replace "is," "are," "was," "were," or "have + an -ing word" to a simple present or past tense verb.

  • Wordy

The South African government was undergoing significant changes.

  • Concise

The South African government underwent significant changes.

·  Replace "should," "would," or "could" with strong verbs.

  • Wordy

The environmental council could see several solutions.

  • Concise

The environmental council saw several solutions.

·  Substitute strong verbs for "-tion" and "-sion" words whenever possible.

  • Wordy

I submitted an application for the job.

  • Concise

I applied for the job.

·  Replace prepositional phrases with one-word modifiers when possible. Prepositional phrases, those little relationship words like "of," "from," "after," etc., tend to bring in a lot of "-tion" and "-sion" words too.

  • Wordy

The President of the Student Senate was in charge of the lobbying against the merger at the Minnesota Congress.

  • Concise

The Student Senate President oversaw lobbying the Minnesota Congress against the merger.

·  Use a colon after a statement preceding a sentence of explanation, and leave out the beginning of the next sentence

  • Wordy

The theater has three main technical areas. These areas are costumes, scenery, and lighting.

  • Concise

The theater has three main technical areas: costumes, scenery, and lighting.

·  Combine two closely related short sentences by omitting part of one.

  • Wordy

The director is concerned about problems. Typical problems may occur with lighting, sound, and props.

  • Concise

The director is concerned about typical problems with lighting, sound, and props.

 

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