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THE PARTS OF SPEECH [ ? ]
> Adjectives
> Adverbs
> Articles
> Conjunctions
> Nouns
> Pronouns
> Prepositions
> Verbs : Verbals
> Vowels : Consonants
CHEAT SHEETS
> Violations of English Words
> Homonyms
> Homogeneous words
> Possessive nouns
HOW TO WRITE BETTER
> Ad Copy
> Blog Copy
> Resume
> Sales Letter
PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING ( What is? )
> Plain English Material
> Jargon and Legalese
> Active Voice
> Plain English Gobbledygook
> Using plain English
WRITING STYLES
> APA Style
> MLA Style
> Chicago Style
GRAMMAR ( What is? )
> The English Grammar
> Plain English Style
> Most confusing English Words
GRAMMAR MISTAKES
> Attraction
> ALONE (usage)
> AND relative
> Broken Construction
MISUSED ENGLISH WORDS
> Aggravating, Irritating
> Both, Each, Every
> Continual, Continuous
> Decided, Decisive
> Show all
CAPITALIZATION ( What is? )
> Book Titles
> First Words
> Titles of People
PUNCTUATION ( What is? )
> Apostrophe
> Colon
> Comma
> Dash
FIGURES OF SPEECH
> What is a figure of speech?
> the Simile
> the Metaphor
> Personification
WORD CLASSES
> Word Groups
> Spoken and Written Words
> Motion Words

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PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING : 9 Tips to Write Better Plain English Material : Complexity and Pomposity in Poor Writing : Drop the Officialese, and Write in Plain English : How to Recognize Passive Voice : How to Replace Jargon and Legalese : How to Start Writing in Plain English : View all articles

How to Use Simpler Words in Plain English Writing

Omit superfluous words

Words are superfluous when you can replace them with fewer words that mean the same thing. Sometimes you can use a simpler word for these phrases:

Superfluous Simpler
in order to to
in the event that if
subsequent to after
prior to before
despite the fact that although
because of the fact that because, since
in light of because, since
owing to the fact that because, since


Another source of superfluous words is "shotgunning": letting loose a blast of words hoping at least one conveys your intended meaning. The simplest solution is to replace your laundry list of adjectives with a single word or phrase that adequately expresses your intended meaning.

Removing superfluous words is an easy method to improve your document because it doesn't require you to revise sentence structure.

BEFORE
The following summary is intended only to highlight certain information contained elsewhere in this statement.

AFTER
This summary highlights some information from this statement.

BEFORE
Emergency Response Systems and Greek Text, Inc. are each subject to the information requirements and in accordance therewith file annual special reports, statements and other information with the Princeton Review Association.

AFTER
We file annual special reports, statements, and other information with the Princeton Review Association.

BEFORE
Drake Inc. has filed with the I.R.S. a tax ruling request concerning, among other things, the tax consequences of the Distribution to the United States holders of Common Stock. It is expected that the Distribution of Common Stock to the shareholders of Sony will be tax-free to such shareholders for federal income tax purposes, except to the extent that cash is received for fractional share interests.

AFTER
Although U.S. shareholders at the federal level can expect this transaction to be tax free, we have asked the I.R.S. to confirm that it is.

Write in the "positive"

Positive sentences are shorter and easier to understand than their negative counterparts. For example:

BEFORE
Persons other than the primary beneficiary may not receive cash advancements.

AFTER
Only the primary beneficiary may receive cash advancements.

You can shorten your sentences if you replace a negative phrase with a single word that means the same thing.

negative compound single word
not able unable
not accept reject
not certain uncertain
not unlike similar, alike
does not have lacks
does not include omits, excludes
not many few
not often rarely
not the same different
not … unless only if
not … except only if
not … until only when


Use short sentences

No one likes to read a sentence that rambles on for two pages. Nor do readers want to struggle through a document that contains lengthy, information-packed sentences with jargon and legalese. Long and complex sentences make it harder for readers to understand any single portion of it.

What do we do when we find that our sentences are running too long for the average reader? If we find length and complexity mingled in the same sentence we have to break up the sentence. We can do this in one of two ways: (1) by editing and adding punctuation marks; or (2) by rewriting.

Of the two, the latter is the better. In rewriting long, complex sentences, you will find that you had created complexity because you hadn't thought your ideas through before you started writing your sentences.

Breaking the long, complex sentence into two, three or more simple sentences will force you to think and write more clearly.

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PLAIN ENGLISH WRITING : 9 Tips to Write Better Plain English Material : Complexity and Pomposity in Poor Writing : Drop the Officialese, and Write in Plain English : How to Recognize Passive Voice : How to Replace Jargon and Legalese : How to Start Writing in Plain English : View all articles





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