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Clean Up Preposition Clutter

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  1. Clean Up Preposition Clutter Excerpts from Painless Writing by Jeffrey Strausser

  2. Preposition Overuse • Ruins your style • Detracts from your hard work • Creates wordy, confusing sentences

  3. 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

  4. By Under For Near About On Against To With Next Inside Because During From Like Over In Until Across Above Toward Outside Common Prepositions

  5. 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

  6. Painless Technique No. 1 • Make your writing clearer and more interesting by eliminating unnecessary prepositional phrases.

  7. Prepositional Phrases • A preposition and a noun acting as the preposition’s object. • The preposition depicts a relationship to the noun

  8. 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

  9. 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.

  10. 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

  11. Compound 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

  12. Prepositional Phrase 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.

  13. Step 3: Convert to Adverbs 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.

  14. Step 4: Convert to Adjectives 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.

  15. Step 5: Write in the active voice. 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.

  16. Applying the 5-step process • 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.

  17. The 5 Steps • 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.

  18. Identify the 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.

  19. 1st 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).

  20. 1st Sentence Rewrite • Learning to write better will open a whole new world regarding career opportunities.

  21. 2nd 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).

  22. 2nd sentence rewrite • Students must realize that the education and business communities will need writers.

  23. 3rd 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.

  24. 3rd sentence rewrite • Presently, both sectors have expressed disappointment in their employee’s writing skills.

  25. Last sentence 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.

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

  27. New paragraph 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.

  28. More help with prepositions • 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