An instant way to shorten your sentences

Posted on May 6, 2015 in Literacy, Plain Language Blog Articles

By Toby Brener

Do your sentences suffer from “wordy phrase-itis”? These phrases pad your sentences with extra words. They increase the reading grade level. And they can make your writing sound stuffy.

For example:

• We are not accepting applications at this point in time.

A large proportion of people don’t get enough exercise.

• We created this new product in an effort to increase sales.


Look what happens when you swap those wordy phrases with one-word alternatives:

• We are not accepting applications now.

Many people don’t get enough exercise.

• We created this new product to increase sales.


The result? Crisp, concise and clear writing.

Try it the next time you write something. It’s fun. And it’s easy. Here’s a list you can use to guide you.

Instead of Use this
On the grounds that; as a result of; due to the fact that; in light of the fact that; by virtue of the fact that Because
In order to; in an effort to; as a means to; for the purpose of To
In connection with; concerning the matter of; with reference to; in regards to About About
In accordance with According to
Adequate number of; sufficient number of Enough
In spite of (the fact that) Although; despite
At this point in time; at the present time; at present Now
In the event that; in the event of; assuming that; provided that If
In advance of; prior to Before
At a later date Later
At all times Always
By means of By
In lieu of Instead of
Make use of Use
For the duration of During; throughout
At the time that When
A greater degree of; a greater proportion of More
A majority of Most
A large proportion of Many


About the Author: Toby H. Brener is a writer, editor and website manager at Aetna.