How to Prevent Awkward Writing

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We all know awkward writing when we read it. The reasons are many. Here are some of my suggestions to prevent such awkward sentences and write in plain clear English:


1) Don’t mix-up your tenses
“She is cooking supper before she went to bed.”
BETTER: “She is cooking supper before going to bed.”


2) Don’t mash-up a proverb for emphasis
“The defendant started to sweat with the prosecutor’s questions raining like cats and dogs.”
BETTER: “The defendant started to sweat when the prosecutor started to ask a long series of tough questions.”


3) Never use “their” just to be politically correct
“Show me a voter who knows what’s good for them and I’ll show you a person who does not watch any political commercials.”
BETTER: “Show me a voter who knows what’s good for him or her and I’ll show you a person who does not watch any political commercials.”


4) Use the correct verb conjugation
“Everyone except James, Hillary and Sundal know that this mission is a lost cause unfortunately.”
BETTER: ““Everyone except James, Hillary and Sundal knows that this mission is a lost cause unfortunately.”






5) Prevent run-on sentences by separating the clauses with a semi-colon
“Great artists and scientists are people of immense single-mindedness they all sacrifice a lot to achieve the best in their own chosen fields.”
BETTER: “Great artists and scientists are people of immense single-mindedness; they all sacrifice a lot to achieve the best in their own chosen fields.”

“I bought an MP3 player that did not work, that’s why I had to return it.”
BETTER: “I bought an MP3 player that did not work; that’s why I had to return it.”


6) Don’t misplace your clauses
“The teachers continued to teach the college-bound seniors while they were on furlough.”
BETTER: “While they were on furlough, the teachers continued to teach the college-bound seniors.”


7) Watch out for improper use of “if” coupled with past tense of a verb
“Reading this book will be as if you lifted a thousand pounds.”
BETTER: “Reading this book will feel like lifting a thousand pounds.”

“Working for ABC Corporation will be as good a career move as if you worked for the XYZ Associates.”
BETTER: “Working for ABC Corporation will be as good a career move as working for the XYZ Associates.”






8) Don’t use “thanks to” when you should be saying “due to”
“The man burned alive thanks to a lack of alarm system.”
BETTER: “The man burned alive due to a lack of alarm system.”

“Our children are failing thanks to our outdated education system.”
BETTER: “Our children are failing due to our outdated education system.”


9) Don’t use extra pronouns in a list
“Most Hollywood actors these can act well, dance, and they can sing.”
BETTER: “Most Hollywood actors these can act well, dance, and sing.”

“Before restarting the engine make sure it’s lubricated, fueled and it is primed.”
BETTER: “Before restarting the engine make sure it’s lubricated, fueled and primed.”


10) Use “in” and “of” sparingly
“When the heroes of the Olympics showed up we ran out of tickets in ten minutes.”
BETTER: “When the Olympics heroes showed up we ran out of tickets in ten minutes.”

“The mountains in Maine turn a gorgeous orange and purple at this time of the year.”
BETTER: “The Maine mountains turn a gorgeous orange and purple at this time of the year.”


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