Have you ever finished writing a sentence only to reread it and be completely baffled at its structure? Sure, the sentence might be technically grammatically correct, but it sounds incredibly awkward. In situations like these, it’s best to step back and try to find a way to rewrite the sentence. For example: When you see your new friend, tell him or her that I said hello.
Although using ‘him or her’ to indicate a person of whose gender you aren’t aware is technically correct, the sentence above sounds formal and would likely come across as awkward in casual conversation. In this case, try rewriting the sentence:
Tell your new friend that I said hello. The next time you see your new friend, say hello for me. Say hello to your new friend for me.
Another example: She took over the family business because, due to a series of unexpected events, her mother was unable to continue the administrative work that she had done faithfully for over twenty-five years.
This sentence is overly wordy and awkward. Try removing information from the sentence or breaking it up into two sentences:
Her mother was unable to continue the administrative work that she had done faithfully for over twenty-five years. Therefore, Monica took over the family business.
Another example: People, parents mostly, who care about children should make an effort to teach their children the differences between right and wrong.
This sentence is repetitive and awkward. Try consolidating the information in the sentence:
If parents care about their children, they should teach them the differences between right and wrong.
If you can’t tell whether or not your sentence is awkward, try reading it aloud. Your ears will often tell you before your eyes will if you should rewrite the sentence.
For more tips on clear and concise writing, read this blog post by C.S. Lakin.
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