5 Types of Conciseness Solutions

By Mark Nichol

Various syntactical constructions signal the potential for verbal economy. In each example below, one or more words are easily omitted, as shown in the revision that follows the discussion about each sentence.

1. This is another step toward bringing the country’s privacy-protection regime in line with those of other international jurisdictions.

In this sentence, nominalization, or transformation of a verb into a noun, results in an unnecessarily complicated syntax and an excessive word count. To reverse this process, convert “in line” to a form of align and replace the verb bringing with it: “This is another step toward aligning the country’s privacy-protection regime with those of other international jurisdictions.”

2. This contact would typically be someone who is in charge of managing privacy compliance.

Here, the sentence is rendered slightly less wordy by omitting the unnecessary phrase “who is”: “This contact would typically be someone in charge of managing privacy compliance.” (“That is/are” is also often extraneous, as in “However, it is emerging technology-related challenges that are the foremost challenges for survey respondents,” which can be reduced to “However, emerging technology-related challenges are the foremost challenges for survey respondents.”)

3. There are a number of technical provisions that apply to providers of electronic communication services.

This sentence includes an expletive (that term, in grammatical contexts, refers to the use of the weak phrase structure “There is/was/are/were” (or one beginning with it, followed by one of the listed verbs). This telltale phrase, and the corresponding that, are easily, productively omitted: “A number of technical provisions apply to providers of electronic communication services.”

4. The agency is analyzing the different types of alternative data available.

Here, the superfluous adjective different (the idea is already implied in types) is omitted: “The agency is analyzing the types of alternative data available.” (Currently is another almost always extraneous modifier.)

5. Pinpoint which data to monitor for the purpose of helping continuously improve the department’s performance.

Delete useless phrases such as “for the purpose of,” which may appear to strengthen a sentence but only clutter it (and change the phrase “of helping” to “to help”): “Pinpoint which data to monitor to help continuously improve the department’s performance.” (This sentence can also be inverted to “To help continuously improve the department’s performance, pinpoint which data to monitor.”)

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3 Responses to “5 Types of Conciseness Solutions”

  • Dale A. Wood

    Expertly concise statements:
    “Loose Lips Sink Ships.”
    A cartoon of Smoky Bear saying “Only you”.
    “Remember the Alamo.” “Remember Pearl Harbor”.
    “Eat More Beef”, which was spoofed by “Eat More Possum.”
    “A stitch in time saves nine.”
    “See Rock City.” “Drink Coca-Cola”. “Fly Delta.”

  • venqax

    Not, “A stitch in time save nine more stitches down the road of future stitching activity.” That is too wordy.

  • Dale A. Wood

    “Wordy, indeed!”

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