Exercise Revise for Clarity

Revise the following sentences to make the copy less stilted, avoid split infinitives, and ensure proper punctuation.

1. Mr. Wexler always tries to fully investigate the causes of a company's bankruptcy.

2. Julia without her Tom is nothing.

3. Kyu-Ja said Linda What time is the train expected to arrive?

4. It has come to our attention that Marybeth from Dallas Charlie from Portland Dee from Chicago and Brian from Phoenix all need to meet with the advertising team.

5. Each of the supervisors is qualified to lead his team.

How did you do? There are some tricky issues in these five sentences. Without knowing the writer's intention, you'll have a tough time revising copy. Remember to start your revision with a clear understanding of the writer's meaning.

1. Mr. Wexler always tries to fully investigate the causes of a company's bankruptcy.

The split infinitive is awkward. It is better to write the sentence as:

Mr. Wexler always tries to investigate fully the causes of a company's bankruptcy.

2. Julia without her Tom is nothing.

There are several ways to punctuate this sentence, depending on the writer's intention. For example, you could write:

Julia: Without her, Tom is nothing. Julia, without her Tom, is nothing.

In other words, who's dependent on the other person for substance? Is Tom nothing without Julia or is Julia nothing without Tom?

3. Kyu-Ja said Linda What time is the train expected to arrive?

You need to know who's speaking in order to properly punctuate this sentence. Here are two alternatives:

"Kyu-Ja," said Linda. "What time is the train expected to arrive?" Kyu-Ja said, "Linda! What time is the train expected to arrive?"

4. It has come to our attention that Marybeth from Dallas Charlie from Portland Dee from Chicago and Brian from Phoenix all need to meet with the advertising team.

Add commas as follows:

It has come to our attention that Marybeth from Dallas, Charlie from Portland, Dee from Chicago, and Brian from Phoenix all need to meet with the advertising team.

5. Each of the supervisors is qualified to lead his team.

You'll probably want to revise this to make it gender-neutral. If all the supervisors are men, this is fine as written, but most likely all the supervisors are not men, and therefore the issue must be addressed.

All the supervisors are qualified to lead their teams.

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