Style Quiz #9: Simplifying Sentences

Improve these sentences by restructuring them to be more direct and by removing extraneous words. 1. Mary and John had fostered relationships with government and park officials and were allowed to submit a counterproposal. 2. The incident was tragic all around and should not have played out as it did. 3. These are annual events … Read more

3 Errors Involving Prepositions

You are attempting to describe an action, but you can’t remember whether one, say, goes in to the breach or into the breach, or whether one, for example, walks on to the next trail junction or onto the next trail junction. This post explains the respective roles of the operative words and phrases. A prepositional … Read more

Expletives and Agents

Readers are more likely to engage with writing when it is active, direct, and vivid. To that end, avoid expletives and passive construction and emphasize agents, as described in the discussion and demonstrated in the revision following each example. 1. There are several ways to achieve the desired balance. This sentence begins with an expletive, … Read more

Restrictive and Unrestrictive Use of “Such As”

The phrase “such as” comes in handy for referring to specifics, but whether it begins a longer phrase framed by a pair of commas depends on whether that longer phrase is essential to the sentence or is provided as additional but nonessential information. The following sentences demonstrate erroneous use or omission of punctuation with the … Read more