Conciseness Exercise (550)

Revise each sentence to eliminate superfluous words and phrases. (The revisions under "Answers and Explanations" aren't necessarily the only ones that can be made, but they are the ones that resolve the most blatant verbosity.)

Answers and Explanations

1.
Original: The programs were fined a total of $1,500 each.
Correct : The programs were fined $1,500 each.

The phrase "a total of" is unnecessary unless the sentence refers to two or more figures (for example, as in "The sentences handed down were 90 days in prison and 30 days in prison, for a total of 120 days") or is otherwise complex.

2.
Original: Dwarf planets are spherical in shape like planets, but they share the same celestial neighborhood as other, similar-sized objects.
Correct : Dwarf planets are spherical like planets, but they share the same celestial neighborhood as other, similar-sized objects.

The word "spherical" refers to shape, so the phrase "in shape" is extraneous. (This type of superfluity also occurs in such phrases as "The cube is eight inches in size" or "The ball is blue in color.")

3.
Original: Austin is one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States and is confronting increasing questions about economic and racial segregation as real estate prices skyrocket around its urban core.
Correct : Austin, one of the fastest-growing cities in the United States, is confronting increasing questions about economic and racial segregation as real estate prices skyrocket around its urban core.

This revision reduces the number of "to be" verbs and slightly reduces the length of the sentence.

4.
Original: Right now, scientists debate whether or not life on Earth originated on another celestial object, like Mars.
Correct : Right now, scientists debate whether life on Earth originated on another celestial object, like Mars.

The phrase "or not" is unnecessary after "whether," which implicitly refers to a choice.

5.
Original: It is understood by our client that you will be complying with the order.
Correct : Our client understands that you will be complying with the order.

To make a sentence more concise—and more active—avoid starting with an expletive ("it is," "there are," and so on). Begin with the subject instead.

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