A Basis for More Concise Wording
One clear sign of a sentence that is a candidate for conciseness is the noun basis, especially when it appears in the phrase “on a/an [blank] basis.”
Whenever you are tempted to write such a phrase, or you find as you review a piece of your writing that you have already done so, seek an alternate path. For example, in the sentence “We conduct an audit of our company on an annual basis,” reduce the phrase “on an annual basis” by deleting all but the adjective annual and converting it to an adverb: “We conduct an audit of our company annually.” (The sentence can also be abridged by moving the adjective to modify the first noun in the sentence instead, as in “We conduct an annual audit of our company.”) If basis evades your vigilance, watch for terms of frequency, such as daily, weekly, and monthly.
This solution works for adjectives that generically refer to frequency as well: “The maintenance crew inspects the structure on a periodic basis” is easily revised to “The maintenance crew inspects the structure periodically” or “The maintenance crew periodically inspects the structure.”
Sometimes, the revision isn’t so straightforward. For example, the sentence “He was advised to seek counseling on an ongoing basis” cannot be altered in the format of the first of each pair of revisions above, because ongoing has no adverbial form, although the second alternative is valid: “He was advised to seek ongoing counseling.”
Use of the basis phrase isn’t egregious, and eradicating its every instance is not necessary, but avoid it for the most part, and beware of multiple instances in the same piece of content, especially in proximity.
Basis, adopted into English directly from Latin, originally came from Greek, where basis meant “step.” The sense in Latin and English is “foundation,” and like its close cousin base, basis is fundamental in English, but it is easily overused, and “on a/an [blank] basis” can become tiresome, especially in repetition.
The same is true of “in a/an [blank] manner” and similar constructions, which can also be reduced to more concise phrasing.
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