300 Days of Better Writing

May 16, 2013

Remove unnecessary that is/are and who is/are phrases.


Concise writing promotes reader understanding. It also helps keep the reader interested in what you are writing. Many of these tips discuss strategies for writing concisely and removing unnecessary words. This tip provides another strategy for concise writing.

Writers use these phrases to introduce a description. Consider this sentence.

“The office manager who is greeting new employees is well liked.”

Here, the phrase “who is” is being used to introduce the descriptive phrase “greeting new employees.” “Who is” can be removed without changing the meaning or damaging the clarity of the sentence, so it should be removed. This gives us

“The office manager greeting new employees is well liked.”

The reader will still know which office manager is being described. Here’s another example.

“The boys who are in the hallway are standing in front of the door that is open.”

We can apply this tip to change “The boys who are in the hallway” to “The boys in the hallway.”

However, we might not want change “the door that is open.” This phrase implies that multiple doors are in the hallway but that only one is open. In this case, the phrase “that is” is necessary for clarifying where the boys are. On the other hand, if only one door is in the hallway, we can apply this tip, resulting in “the open door.”


This is the strategy for day 64 in 300 Days of Better Writing, available at Hostile Editing in PDF, Kindle, and paperback formats.

For a sample of 300 Days of Better Writing and other books by Precise Edit, download the free ebook.

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