300 Days of Better Writing

July 29, 2010

One Word Is Better Than Many


Take a close look at your sentences and underline or circle the descriptive phrases. If you have 2 or more in a row, this tip is for you. Consider this sentence.

“An organization providing healthcare services to those patients unable to pay for services necessary to sustain an active lifestyle will encounter financial difficulties should the recipients increase in number.”

This sentence has 5 descriptive phrases, and 4 of these are in a series:

  • “providing healthcare services” – describes “organization”
  • “to those patients” – describes “providing”
  • “unable to pay for services” – describes “patients”
  • “necessary to sustain” – describes “services”

In this sentence, the writer provides one descriptive phrase, describes a word in that phrase, and so forth, producing cumbersome writing. This string of descriptive phrases also separates the rhetorical subject (“organization”) and the main action (“will encounter”). As a result, the reader may lose the writer’s meaning.

Because clarity depends, in great part, on concision, avoid strings of descriptive phrases. One simple way to do this is to use a single word or two to replace an entire descriptive phrase.

For example, instead of writing “The organization providing healthcare services,” you could write “The healthcare organization.”

Also, you can replace the string of descriptive phrases “providing healthcare services to those patients unable to pay for services” with “providing charity services.”

This sentence could be improved further, but with just these 2 changes, the entire sentence is more clear and more economical:

“A healthcare organization providing charity services will encounter financial difficulties should the recipients increase.”

(Day 46 in 300 Days of Better Writing. More information about this writing guide)


Free E-book to Improve Your Writing Skills

Your Writing Companion

Top writing strategies and expert instruction from each of Precise Edit’s writing guides

  • 2 complete articles from
    Precise Edit Training Manual
  • 8 days of instruction from
    300 Days of Better Writing
  • 5 top strategies from
    Bang! Writing with Impact

Discover the quality and practicality of Precise Edit’s writing guides while learning great strategies for writing powerfully!

GET THE FREE E-BOOK (PDF)
or purchase the Kindle version ($0.99).

Advertisements

Leave a Comment »

No comments yet.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.

%d bloggers like this: