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Clean Up Preposition Clutter Excerpts from Painless Writing by Jeffrey Strausser Preposition Overuse Ruins your style Detracts from your hard work Creates wordy, confusing sentences Identifying Prepositions

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Clean up preposition clutter l.jpg

Clean Up Preposition Clutter

Excerpts from

Painless Writing

by Jeffrey Strausser


Preposition overuse l.jpg
Preposition Overuse

  • Ruins your style

  • Detracts from your hard work

  • Creates wordy, confusing sentences


Identifying prepositions l.jpg
Identifying Prepositions

  • Definition: A word used to link a noun to a sentence, and in doing so, relates the noun to either another noun or a verb.

  • http://www.chompchomp.com/terms/preposition.htm


Common prepositions l.jpg

By

Under

For

Near

About

On

Against

To

With

Next

Inside

Because

During

From

Like

Over

In

Until

Across

Above

Toward

Outside

Common Prepositions


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How many are too many?

  • No easy rule—the real test is in the reading

  • If your sentences contain only a few verbs, especially verbs in the passive voice, and many prepositions, your essay is probably wordy and confusing

  • If your writing contains 20% to 25% prepositions, you probably have used too many


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Painless Technique No. 1

  • Make your writing clearer and more interesting by eliminating unnecessary prepositional phrases.


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Prepositional Phrases

  • A preposition and a noun acting as the preposition’s object.

  • The preposition depicts a relationship to the noun


Examples l.jpg

On the beach

Near the desk

Against the wind

From the beginning

Under the table

Off the cuff

During his speech

Across the continent

Toward the end

Until the last

Examples


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Excessive Use

By virtue of learning to write better, you will open a whole new world with reference to career opportunities. It is of importance that students realize that writers will be needed by the education and business communities. In the present, both of these sectors have expressed disappointment in the writing skills of those employed. Make no mistake about it; people who can write well are demanded by employers everywhere.


Step 1 eliminate compound prepositional phrases l.jpg
Step 1: Eliminate Compound Prepositional Phrases

  • Define: A series of prepositional phrases that act as one preposition

  • Examples:

    • with regard to

    • with respect to

    • in reference to

    • in connection with

    • for the purposes of


Simplify l.jpg

Compound Prepositional Phrases

at that point in time

by means of

by reason of

during the course of

from the point of view of

in accordance with

in relation to

on the basis of

with reference to

for the purposes of

in favor of

in terms of

Simple

then, now

by

because of

during

from, for

by, under

about, concerning

by, from

about, concerning

for, under

for

in

Simplify


Step 2 where possible convert into participles l.jpg

Prepositional Phrase Prepositional Phrases

In the attempt to

In the fear of failure

In response to

Participle

Attempting

Fearing failure

Responding to

Step 2: Where possible, convert into participles.


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Step 3: Convert to Adverbs Prepositional Phrases

The writer’s novels were of critical acclaim.

The writer’s novels were critically acclaimed.

His actions were under close control.

His actions were closely controlled.

John was the victim of a brutal attack.

John was brutally attacked.

Janet was under the mistaken assumption that she was not liked.

Janet mistakenly assumed that she was not liked.


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Step 4: Convert to Adjectives Prepositional Phrases

It is the nature of humans to admire beauty.

It is human nature to admire beauty.

The response of the audience was silence.

The audience’s response was silence.

The response of the class to the teacher’s joke was many groans.

The class’s response to the teacher’s joke was many groans.


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Step 5: Write in the active voice. Prepositional Phrases

The exam scores were tabulated by the teacher.

The teacher tabulated the exam scores.

The baseball card was purchased by the collector.

The collector purchased the baseball card.

His success was resented by his teammates.

His teammates resented his success.

The grounds were observed by means of hidden cameras.

Hidden cameras observed the grounds.


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Applying the 5-step process Prepositional Phrases

  • Extreme overuse my require changing the entire paragraph structure.

  • You may need to chop a long sentence into two or three sentences,

  • or convert several offending simple sentences into a concise compound sentences.

  • Remember you can always simply eliminate prepositions if they do not contribute meaning or action.


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The 5 Steps Prepositional Phrases

  • Replace compound prepositional phrases with simple prepositions.

  • Where possible, convert prepositional phrases into participles.

  • Where possible, convert prepositional phrases into adverbs.

  • Where possible, convert prepositional phrases into adjectives.

  • Write selected passive voice sentences in the active.


Identify the prepositional phrases l.jpg
Identify the Prepositional Phrases Prepositional Phrases

By virtueof learningto write better, you will open a whole new world with referenceto career opportunities. It is of importance that students realize that writers will be needed by the education and business communities. In the present, both of these sectors have expressed disappointment in the writing skillsof those employed. Make no mistake about it; people who can write well are demanded by employers everywhere.


1 st sentence l.jpg
1 Prepositional Phrasesst sentence

By virtue of learning to write better, you will open a whole new world with reference to career opportunities.

Compound prepositional phrase: adds nothing to the sentence, so eliminate it (Step One).

Compound prepositional phrase: convert to participle, regarding (Steps One & Two).


1 st sentence rewrite l.jpg
1 Prepositional Phrasesst Sentence Rewrite

  • Learning to write better will open a whole new world regarding career opportunities.


2 nd sentence l.jpg
2 Prepositional Phrasesnd sentence

It is of importance that students realize that writers will be needed by the education and business communities.

Convert to one-word adjective, important (Step Four).

Written in passive voice—rewrite in the active (Step Five).


2 nd sentence rewrite l.jpg
2 Prepositional Phrasesnd sentence rewrite

  • Students must realize that the education and business communities will need writers.


3 rd sentence l.jpg
3 Prepositional Phrasesrd sentence

In the present, both of these sectors have expressed disappointment in the writing skills of those employed.

Convert to adverb, presently (Step Three).

Eliminate.

Combine the two phrases: their employees’ writing skills.


3 rd sentence rewrite l.jpg
3 Prepositional Phrasesrd sentence rewrite

  • Presently, both sectors have expressed disappointment in their employee’s writing skills.


Last sentence l.jpg
Last sentence Prepositional Phrases

Make no mistake about it; people who can write well are demanded by employers everywhere.

Passive voice. Rewrite: employers everywhere are demanding people who can write well.


Last sentence rewrite l.jpg
Last sentence rewrite Prepositional Phrases

Make no mistake about it; employers everywhere are demanding people who can write well.


New paragraph l.jpg
New paragraph Prepositional Phrases

Learning to write better will open a whole new world regarding career opportunities. Students must realize that the education and business communities will need writers. Presently, both sectors have expressed disappointment in their employee’s writing skills. Make no mistake about it; employers everywhere are demanding people who can write well.


More help with prepositions l.jpg
More help with prepositions Prepositional Phrases

  • Purdue OWL: http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/594/01/

  • The Guide to Grammar and Writing sponsored by the Capital Community College Foundation: http://grammar.ccc.commnet.edu/grammar/concise.htm

  • University of Ottawa: http://www.arts.uottawa.ca/writcent/hypergrammar/preposit.html


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