JS Tip 266: From the Writing Workshops: The Conciseness Series: Get Rid of the False Subjects
In the writing workshops, participants usually ask about writing more concisely. We’re continuing a series on conciseness.
A false subject is a replacement subject like “It” or “There” (usually coupled with “is” or “are”) which adds nothing to the meaning of the sentence:
- It is five miles from the site to the roadway.
A true subject is the person, place, thing, or idea the sentence is about:
The site is five miles from the roadway.
Okay. So how do we get rid of a false subject? Three steps:
- Find and get rid of any “It is,” “There are,” or “There is” constructions.
- Find the true subject of the sentence and move it to the beginning of the sentence.
- Rewrite the sentence from that true subject.
There are five parts to the program.
Find and get rid of any “It is,” “There are,” or “There is” constructions:
. . . five parts to the program. Poof! Gone!
Find the true subject of the sentence and move it to the beginning of the sentence:
The program . . .
Rewrite the sentence from that true subject:
The program has five parts.
Seven words down to five. A twenty-nine percent weight loss.
Get rid of the false subjects. Write more concisely.
Next week, we’ll talk about getting rid of passive voice. Hey. We love this stuff.