Awkward Sentences

What’s wrong with this sentence?

Example: Really, it’s kind of easy to write in English when you actually have an outline.

This sounds more like spoken English rather than something you would write. Many of the words add little or no meaning to the sentence. So how would you fix the problem? Eliminate the unnecessary words which make the sentence long and ineffective.

It’s easy to write in English when you have an outline.

Other examples of unnecessary words that clutter up a sentence without adding any meaning are  “certainly”, “very”, “pretty”, “quite”, “obviously”, “always”, “of course”, “indeed”, and “inevitably.”

Awkward sentences also overuse negatives.

Take this example:  Get on the Business English HQ mailing list; make sure you don’t go to the wrong websites for business writing advice.

Eliminate the two negatives “don’t” and “wrong.” Simply write:

Get on the Business English HQ mailing list and receive the best business writing advice. (How’s that for great self-promotion?)

So our advice today for effective business writing is to avoid unnecessary qualifiers and negative expressions.

Here are three awkward sentences.

Can you correct them?

1. In doing the powerpoint presentations, Craig certainly knows how to speak rather clearly.

2. Each and everyone of the readers of Business English HQ wrote a comment on the last blog post.

3. Craig bought a software program that was not different from a colleague’s.

Answers:

1.  In doing the powerpoint presentations, Craig knows how to speak clearly.

2. All the readers of Business English HQ wrote a comment on the last blog post.

3. Craig bought the same software program as a colleague.

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22 Comments

  1. Thank you, that’s interesting. I often felt my writing looked too spoken but didn’t know why. I’ll try to cut the meaningless words.

    Reply
    • Hi,

      I appreciate your comment. Check out some of the other posts on writing. I’m sure you’ll find them just as interesting.

      Reply
  2. In doing the powerpoint presentations, Craig knows how to speak clearly.

    All the readers of Business English HQ wrote a comment on the last blog post.

    Craig bought the same software program as a colleague.

    Reply
    • Hi Valeria,

      Cool! I’m glad you liked the post. What does your colleague do with the software?

      Reply
  3. This post was really helpful for me because I often add unnecessary words to my sentences.

    Reply
  4. The video about awkward sentences will help me structure my sentences in a better way and without adding words that we don’t need to have in a sentence.

    Reply
  5. Awkward sentences are the kind of mistakes I often do. By translating French or a spoken English message, I usually write down the words I hear without considering the usefulness of the word in my sentence. Thanks for explaining this common writing mistake.

    Reply
    • Hi Bruno,

      I appreciate your comment. Have a look at some of the other posts on writing, such as “Misplaced modifiers.”

      Reply
  6. This video is really interesting and I think it will help me to write more clearly because I learned a few tricks. I would like to get more advice!

    Reply
    • Hi Roxane,

      Super duper! Thanks for your comment. You might want to check out some of the other posts in “Common Mistakes in Writing,” such as “Missing transitions.”

      Reply
  7. I think I have this problem of adding words that aren’t necessarily important to the understanding of my ideas. This video helped me to understand how I can improve my sentences and avoid unnecessary qualifiers. Thank you !

    Reply
    • Hi Fadouah,

      I appreciate your comment. Have a look at some of the other posts in “Common Writing Mistakes.”

      Reply
  8. This video is captivating! It makes me realize how I constantly put little unnecessary words in my sentences. More examples and exercices on sentence construction would help my writing!

    Reply
    • Hi Laura,

      Thanks for your comment. You might want to check some of the other posts in “Common Writing Mistakes,” such as the one on “Faulty parallelism.”

      Reply
  9. This will be helpful.

    Reply
  10. This post really helps me since I frequently put repetitive and useless words in my sentences.

    Reply
    • Hi Caroline,

      I’m glad to see that the post is helpful. Stay connected for more tips like this.

      Reply
  11. I thought this was very helpful because it’s a mistake I make very often. For the people that are more English speakers than English writers, we tend to add more words than necessary making the sentences awkward. I learned we should keep it simple and stop adding words without any need. It might work in French but not in English.

    Reply
    • Hi Kimberly,

      Thanks for your comment. It’s good that you are seeing the distinction between spoken and written English.

      Reply
  12. This was a good video! It will help me to make better sentences in my future writing exams and to avoid making mistakes with the overuse of qualifiers and negative expressions.

    Reply
  13. This post is helpful for me because as a student who is learning English, I tend to write sentences like spoken English. My mistake it is to write too many unnecessary words, and it makes the sentence heavy! This post makes me realize that I have to pay attention to not overuse the negative form and to remove any unnecessary words.

    Reply
    • Hi My Linh,

      Excellent comment! I’m happy to see that you found the post useful. Come back for more tips like this.

      Reply

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