Common Grammatical Errors: Wordiness

Wordy sentences use too many useless words that clutter writing. Good writing is simple and direct; it uses the simplest word possible that conveys the same meaning. Wordiness takes away from this clarity. 
How do we know we have a wordy sentence?  

For all intents and purposes, the reason Mr. Henderson arrived late for work was due to the fact that he stopped at very many traffic lights that were red in colour.

Mr. Henderson arrived late for work because he stopped at many red lights. 

31 words

13 words

  • Try removing words from each sentence. If you can remove a word while keeping the sentence's meaning, the sentence is wordy.

Keep a word if

  • it is necessary to the grammar of the sentence
  • it is a key idea, fact, feeling, or description

There are many types of wordiness, but we will give you five examples.
 1. Eliminate redundancy.

redundant

Better

each separate incident

each incident

many different ways

many ways

dash quickly

dash

as to whether

whether

tall skyscraper

tall

blue in colour

blue

free gift

gift

advance notice

notice

he is a man who is

he is

appear to be

appear

completely finished

finished

the reason . . . is because

because

2. Delete empty words and phrases

generally

tend to

really

apparently

in my opinion

very

basically

I think that

various

essentially

I feel

in some ways

virtually

I believe

for all intents and purposes

3. Avoid expressions that can be more clearly said in another way

outlaw

rehabilitated

at this point in time

at this time/now

in the neighbourhood of

of about

had an effect upon

influenced

due to the fact that

because

in order to

to

for the purpose of

for

it is important that

must

until such time as

until

at the same time as

while

with the possible exception of

except

4. Delete the following phrases and variations:

  • there is . . . that
  • it is . . . that

There are many students who like reading.

Many students like reading.

It is the desk that is uncomfortable.

The desk is uncomfortable.

5. Avoid using the passive voice
The passive voice often uses more words than the active voice.

6. Substitute verbs with prepositions with verbs not needing prepositions.

  • Never write “find out” when you can write “discover.”