As we put a wrinkly old 2015 to rest and welcome a baby-fresh 2016, many of us are embracing a fresh start, taking stock of our lives, and making resolutions. Among the things we resolve to change is our physical state. All that holiday overindulgence has left us a little bloated and sluggish (although I’m not really thinking about all the junk food I stuffed into mouth—mostly because I’ve concealed it beneath a pillowy layer of whipped cream.) But I understand: we want to shed some of the extraneous stuff that’s weighing us down. You may be thinking in terms of pounds and inches, but I’m actually thinking about our writing; specifically, shaving off the flab from our sentences.

So in the spirit of getting fit and trim, for this light and healthy Grammar Snack, I present you with some bloated phrases alongside their fitter, slimmed-down alternatives. Think of it as a grammatical before-and-after photo of your writing. And Happy New Year! 
Before / After

a lack of / insufficient

along with / with

as a consequence of / because

as long as / if

at the conclusion of / after

be able to/be capable of / can

be a combination of / combine

come to an agreement / agree

cognizant of / know

close proximity to / near

despite the fact that / although

end result / result

for the purpose of / for, to

in advance of / before

in conjunction with / with

in excess of / more than

in order that / to, so that

in recognition of the fact / therefore

in reference to / about, regarding

in the near future / soon

inclusive of / including

is contingent upon / is dependent upon depends on

make a decision / decide

make an effort / try

owing to the fact that / because

previous to / before

provide a description of / describe

provided that / if

run the risk of / risk

sum total / total

sufficient amount of / enough

utilize / use

would be able to / could

This is just the beginning; there are plenty more fatty phrases we need to shed from our writing. We’ll spotlight some of them and their healthier alternatives in the coming months. It’ll be a bit like a check-in—to see how you’re progressing toward your grammatical fitness goals of 2016.

Joe Ehrbar is a senior editor at SMITH.


Tags: grammar, Strategy and Intelligence