1.5- Cut the clutter, more tricks

دوره: Writing in the Sciences / فصل: principles of effective writing / درس 5

1.5- Cut the clutter, more tricks

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Sometimes you have to be a little clever about it, but if you think about it carefully, you can usually find a way to put it in the positive. You can change that to the data confirm an association between vegetables and cancer. Finally, another thing that I want you to start paying attention to are needless prepositions.

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متن انگلیسی درس

In this next module, I’m going to give you a few more tricks for cutting clutter. These are small things but good little tips. So I’m going to review three things. How to eliminate negatives to get rid of nots from your sentences, how to get rid of superfluous uses of there are and there is, and how to omit needless prepositions. So starting with eliminating negatives. This is a great little tip that you may not have ever thought of before. But things like she was not often right. There’s a way to turn that into a positive. You can say, she was usually wrong. Whenever you encounter a not in your writing, see if you can turn it into a positive. You can almost always do it, and it’s usually much clearer when you use the positive construction. For example, she did not want to perform the experiment incorrectly. You can see that there is a double negative here which is confusing. So how would we turn that one into a positive? You would just say, she wanted to perform the experiment correctly. That’s obviously much clearer. Or how about, they did not believe the drug was harmful. How would you turn that into a positive? You would say, they believed the drug was safe. So there’s almost always a way to turn a negative into a positive. Instead of not honest, you can say dishonest. Instead of not harmful, say safe. Not important, you can just say unimportant. Does not have, that’s lacks. Did not remember, you can say forgot. Did not pay attention to, say ignored, did not succeed, failed, you get the idea. So pay attention to this in your writing. Sometimes you have to be a little clever about it, but if you think about it carefully, you can usually find a way to put it in the positive. Also, pay attention to superfluous uses of there are and there is. Here’s a simple example. There are many ways in which we can arrange the pulleys. On first read, you may feel like the there are is needed, but it’s really not. We can just say, we can arrange the pulleys in many ways. You can drop the the there are all together. Here’s another example, there was a long line of bacteria on the plate. How can we get rid of the there was here? How about if we just say, bacteria lined the plate. You can see by getting rid of the there was, we get a much more exciting verb, lined, rather than a to be verb, was. Or try, there are many physicists who like to write. You can just cut the there are completely without re-arranging the sentence at all. Instead of saying there are many physicists who like to write, just say many physicists like to write. The there are was completely unnecessary. Or the data confirm that there is an association between vegetables and cancer. You can change that to the data confirm an association between vegetables and cancer. So when you find yourself writing a there is or a there are or a there was, check and make sure that it’s really necessary. A lot of times, you can get rid of it. Finally, another thing that I want you to start paying attention to are needless prepositions. Often prepositions like that and on are completely unnecessary. And when you have to get your word count down like in an abstract, this is a good place to strip some extra words. For example, the meeting happened on Monday. Well, actually that on is unnecessary, you could just say the meeting happened Monday, you don’t lose anything. Or they agreed that it was true, just say, they agreed it was true, you don’t need the that. So you can often get rid of extraneous prepositions. You might think you need them. But if you take them out, you realize that you actually don’t.

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