Elements of Style Rules #17-22
Created By: Derby Belser, Leigha Fisher, and Jenna Brown
17. Omit needless words.
Common expressions in our language break this rule.
Wordy - Concise
The reason why is that - because
Her story is a strange one - Her story is strange
he is a man who - he
the question as to whether - the question whether
there is no doubt but that - no doubt
Phrases such as Who is and which was are normally unnecessary.
Sarah, who is a really good dancer
Sarah, a really good dancer
Mint ice cream, which was what I ate for breakfast
Mint ice cream, what I ate for breakfast
Avoid wordiness when presenting a single complex idea by combining the step by step series of sentences into one sentence.
Wordy: It was nice outside. Jenny wanted to walk her dog. She grabbed her dog's leash and put it on her dog. Then, she and her dog went for a walk.
Concise: Jenny took her dog for a walk and enjoyed the nice weather.
18. Avoid a succession of loose sentences.
Incorrect: I knew I had found a friend in the woman, who herself was a lonely soul, never having known the love of man or child.* Her name was Adele, and she was the most beautiful woman I had ever met. She was a brunette, with bright blue eyes. I loved her, and we became the best of friends.
Correct: I knew I had found a friend in the woman, who herself was a lonely soul. With her brown hair and bright blues eyes, Adele was the prettiest woman I had ever met. We became the best of friends, and I couldn't help but love her.
19. Express coordinate ideas in similar form.
Incorrect: In the past, it was thought that there were nine planets, while now we know there are only eight.
Correct: In the past, it was thought that there were nine planets; now it is understood that there are eight planets.
When expressing a series, the prepositions used must apply to all of the members of the series or to only the first.
Incorrect: The golden retrievers, the labradors, and poodles were all running around in the dog park.
Correct: The golden retrievers, the labradors, and the poodles were all running around in the dog park.
20. Keep Related words together.
Incorrect: Hissing, the man picked up the cat.
Correct: The man picked up the hissing cat.
As a rule, do not separate the subject and the principal verb.
Incorrect: She, already frustrated from a previous class, yelled at the teacher.
Correct: She yelled at the teacher, already frustrated from a previous class.
Make sure the relative pronoun comes right after the antecedent.
Incorrect: The head of the science department is always stressed conducting the AP tests.
Correct: The head of the science department, who conducts the AP tests, is always stressed.
21. In summaries, keep to one tense.
22. Place the emphatic words of a sentence at the end.
Incorrect: Humility has hardly advanced in fortitude since that time, though it has advanced in many other ways.*
Correct: Since that time, humanity has advanced in many ways, but it has hardly advanced in fortitude.*
How effective the periodic sentence is depends on the importance it gives to the main statement.
Example: I urge you as president of this charity , to find it within yourselves to be as benevolent as possible, and give $1000 to the charity's fund.
Any element in the sentence other than the subject becomes emphatic when placed first.
Example: Deceit or treachery she could never forgive.*
1. The boy ran out of the restaurant in a quick manner.
2. The coastal, piedmont, and the mountains can all be found in North Carolina.
3. Formerly, science was taught by the text book method, while now the laboratory method is employed.*
4. He noticed a large stain in the rug that was right in the center.*
5. Danny, in the movie theater, fell asleep.
"Grammar Jokes Are Funny: The Past, Present, and Future Walk into a Bar. It Was Tense." Grammar Jokes Are Funny: The Past, Present, and Future Walk into a Bar. It Was Tense. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.
"Grammar." Pinterest. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Sept. 2014.
*Strunk, William, and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. New York: Macmillan, 1979. Print.