How To Eliminate Clutter From Your Business Writing Part 2

Verbs are the lifeblood of good business writing. If you choose strong ones, they’ll vitalize your writing. Select weak or “smothered” verbs, however, and your readers will suffer.

A common problem with business writing today is smothering verbs by adding lifeless or dull phrases. For example, certain verbs, such as “to be/is, make, have and come” are often added on to verbs, with no effect beyond increased wordiness. Check your documents for the disease of smothering (is-ness, make-ness, etc.) and other similar constructions.

Smothered Example: Cutting our department’s budget is another way to reduce morale.
Improved: Cutting our department’s budget also reduces morale.

Smothered Example: The manager will make a decision next week.
Improved: The manager will decide next week.

Smothered Example: I think you will find that our department is one that can handle the project you are proposing.  (18 words can be shortened to seven, below)
Improved: Our department can handle your proposed project.

In addition to “do-little” verbs, there are telltale signs of turning verbs into nouns that can weaken prose and slow down sentences. Word endings on your nouns are another case of smothering verbs. For example, try to spot nouns that end in:
-ance, -ancy

Smothered                                                                 Improved

It is our belief that                                                       We believe

Provide an illustration                                               illustrate

Come to the realization                                             realize

Carry out additional research                                 research

Are found to be in agreement                                 agree with

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