5 Verbose Sentences Made Shorter
When you write, think tight. The goal is not to reduce every sentence to its most concise form but to avoid distractingly extraneous wording and phrasing. Here are five sentences improved by a reduction in length.
1. “The teacher is speaking on a phone in his classroom between classes, and he breaks away for a moment to answer a student’s question.”
To condense a sentence with two independent clauses separated by a conjunction, open a parenthetical where the sentence’s first verb appears, and close it where the second clause begins, deleting the verb and the conjunction respectively: “The teacher, speaking on a phone in his classroom between classes, breaks away for a moment to answer a student’s question.”
2. “The theme of this year’s summit is ‘From Essential Elements to Effective Practice,’ and the conference will include a variety of interactive sessions.”
Here’s a revision of a sentence constructed like the one in the previous example, which is improved by the same technique — deletion of the initial verb and parenthesis of what followed that verb: “This year’s summit, ‘From Essential Elements to Effective Practice,’ will include a variety of interactive sessions.”
3. “John Smith runs the DJ Project, an after-school program in San Francisco for students struggling in school. He uses hip-hop to connect with the students.”
To combine two sentences into one, convert key information from either sentence into a parenthetical and tack the other statement onto the end: “John Smith, who runs the DJ Project, an after-school program in San Francisco for students struggling in school, uses hip-hop to connect with the students.”
4. “It’s rather annoying that you can’t turn off the various sounds that play when you use the zoom and other functions.”
Strive to pare explanations and descriptions down to the fewest possible words. For example, there’s a standing phrase for the concept of “the various sounds that play”: “It’s annoying that you can’t turn off the sound effects for zoom and other functions.”
5. “Students worked collaboratively on unfamiliar and open-ended problems.”
Look for opportunities to reduce sentence length by omitting a sentence’s verb and converting an adverb to a verb to take its place: “Students collaborated on unfamiliar and open-ended problems.” (The problem this revision solves is called smothering a verb.)
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