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Conciseness--Cutting the Fat

WORDINESS "always chose to say something in one or two words rather than three or four"

at this point in time = now during the course of = during
due to the fact that = because in spite of the fact that = despite
in the not too distant future = soon proceeded to walk = walked
in a very real sense = really rarely ever = rarely
few in number = few both together = both
shuttle back and forth = shuttle along the lines of = like
but yet = but
or yet (but not both)
for this reason = thus, therefore

for more see Deadwood Phrases


Any particular type of pencil is fine with me.
Any pencil is fine with me.

Cleaning the office by Monday is an impossibility without some kind of extra help.
Cleaning the office by Monday is impossible without extra help.

Trust words to say what they mean. Nine times out of ten, you can cut words such as:

very, really, just, absolutely, actually, generally, basically, certainly, definitely, incredibly, intensely, of course, perfectly, positively, quite, simply, so, too, kind of, sort of, type of, specific

MORE FAT-- Put it in plain English

limited in length = short
experience growth = grow
police protection services = police
stepwise methodology = method


(N) She did not do well on the test.
(P) She failed the test.

(N) He was not convicted.
(P) He was acquitted.

(N) They have no liking for rationing.
(P) They hate rationing.


An account was opened by Mrs. Simms.
Mrs. Simms opened an account.

The departure of the fleet is thought to be necessarily conditional on the weather.
The departure of the fleet depends on the weather.

See the Writing Guide on Revising Sentences following Richard Lanham's Paramedic Method for more

For even more see:
Garbl's Fat-Free Writing Links and the Purdue OWL on Conciseness

Use Lanham's Paramedic Method to Revise Sentences (slightly modified)

  1. Circle all the to be verbs.
  2. Circle all the prepositions.
  3. Focus on sentences one at a time that have circles (particularly to be verbs).
  4. Ask, "Who's Kicking Who? Clarify the real "agent" (subject) and the real "action" (verb).
  5. Revise the sentence putting these two--the agent and action--together.


1. An account was opened by Mrs. Simms.


2. Their motives were applauded by us, but their wisdom was doubted.


3. The departure of the fleet is thought to be necessarily conditional on the weather.


4. Even when the sun is hidden and the sky is speckled with stars, the heat lingers, hanging motionless in the air.


5. There is a certain possibility that Joe will visit before Thanksgiving.


6. It is the governor who signs or vetoes bills.


7. Controling the quality and level of television shows that children watch is a continuing challenge to parents that they must meet on a daily basis.


8. Your figures were checked by the research department.


9. My recommendation is for a larger budget.


10. It is essential that we act immediately.


11. Please take into consideration my offer.


12. Our disposal procedure is in conformity with federal standards.


13. We are currently in the situation of completing our investigation of all aspects of the accident.


14. Do not accept bids that are not signed.


15. If my claim is not settled by April 21, the Better Business Bureau will be contacted, and their advice on legal action will be taken.


16. There are people that have the impression that Spanish is our first language, and English is a second.


17. There was a bonfire going, and some music playing in the background, but not very many people were dancing.


18. They were all sitting in rows of seats and they were crying and sniffling outloud.


19. Wisconsin is known for its cheese and milk products, but there is so much more about it they don't know.


20. The problem is that the only things that they have in common is that each one has a supreme being and each one thinks that they are right.


for more see Purdue OWL on Conciseness

Check Answers Sentences 1-10 | Sentences 11-20


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