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Building Better Sentences Help (page 3)

By — McGraw-Hill Professional
Updated on Sep 13, 2011

Trimming Unnecessary Words from Sentences

Many of the sentences that we write groan under the weight of unnecessary words:

    Wordy: We were searching for a painter who had experience.
    Corrected: We were searching for an experienced painter.

The second sentence represents a very small, but important, change. The correction eliminates a clause, who had experience, and replaces it with one word—an adjective, experienced. Let's look at another example:

    Wordy: Record these names in a place to which all of us have access.
    Corrected: Record these names in a place accessible to all of us.
    Corrected: Record these names in an accessible place.
    A common error is the use of my reason for… was that:
    My reason for shopping on Thursday was that I knew the vegetables would be fresh.

How much simpler would it be to say, I shopped on Thursday because I knew the vegetables would be fresh.

    Repetition of ideas is another common error:
    Wordy: Here is a picture of the new Mac desktop that they just introduced.
    Corrected: Here is a picture of the newly introduced Mac desktop.
    Wordy: George Washington, he was most notably painted by Gilbert Stuart
    Corrected: George Washington was most notably painted by Gilbert Stuart.

One last but very important rule: Substitute strong verbs for boring noun phrases.

    Wordy: If you have an objection to the menu, please let me know.
    Corrected: If you object to the menu, please let me know.
    Wordy: Please make a recommendation for chairperson.
    Corrected: Please recommend a chairperson.

Practice exercises for this study guide can be found at:

Building Better Sentences Practice

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