Do Not Waste the Main Elements of the Sentence

(In these and all following examples, the deadwood—that is, the unnecessary words—are italicized.)

WORDY The fact of the war had the effect of causing many changes.

CONCISE The war caused many changes.

The main elements of a sentence are its subject, verb, and object. They should convey the core of the thought. Suppose we abstract subject, verb, and object from the sentences above:

fact had effect war caused changes

Clearly the than half the length of the origi-

the main elements more efficiently: from "war caused changes" a reader quickly grasps the nub of the idea. But who could guess the writer's point from "fact had effect"?

As you compose a sentence, then, get the essence of the thought into the subject, verb, and object. Not doing so often results from uncertainty about what your subject is. A sentence that starts out on the wrong foot will stagger under a load of excess verbiage as you struggle to get at what you mean:

The first baseman wears a special leather glove that is designed for easy scooping and long-range catching, while the catcher wears a large glove that is heavily padded to protect him from fast pitches.

The subject of the first clause is "the first baseman"; of the second, "the catcher." But these are the wrong subjects: the writer is contrasting the gloves, not the players. If the true subject ("glove") is used, the sentence steps off properly and moves along easily:

The first baseman's glove is designed for easy scooping and longrange catching, while the catcher's is large and heavily padded to protect him from fast pitches.

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Project Management Made Easy

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