Why Do You Need Changing Phrases When Writing?

English is the most complex and difficult to master language in the world. And, even if you happen to master the skill of using excellent grammar and proper punctuation in your writing, you are likely to only succeed in writing ‘average’ phrases, at best, if you do not know how to appropriately get your point across.

In the same regard, if you are able to create expressive sentences, but you tie them together in jumbled or illogical paragraphs, the impact and direction of your statement will be lost.

There are a number of extremely common mistakes that writers, particularly novice writers, make that quickly turn into habits if they are not corrected quickly. These easy-to-miss errors might be overlooked by readers, who just know that something doesn’t flow right, but they stick out to editors and professional proofreaders like a sore thumb.

The Purpose of Changing Phrases

Before we delve into how changing phrases that are too lengthy or wordy into more concise and specific statements can add tremendous impact to your writing, let’s first take a look at refining sentence structure.

When it comes to the written word, every paragraph starts with a sentence. If your sentence is not properly designed, you have zero ability to engage with your reader, or to hold their attention for longer than a few words, regardless of how interesting your subject matter might be.

Short and concise sentences are always paramount for encouraging proper flow. However, if you are writing a longer or more technical document, several short sentences strung together will begin to sound choppy or lacking of important information.

This doesn’t mean that you need to start padding your sentences with unnecessary fluff, or using the word ‘and’ over and over again. There are many ways to combine like-minded sentences into longer, and more engaging ones.

Of the possible ways to combine sentences, pre-propositional phrases, adjectives and adverbs are amongst the most widely used.

Here is an example:

Before: After the wedding reception, the Hall Manager helped the wait staff to clear the tables and pack up the glasses and empty bottles. The wait staff were exhausted.

After: After the wedding reception, the Hall Manager helped the exhausted wait staff clear tables and clean up.

You might also try to use phrases to make boring sentences sound more interesting.

Of the two sentences below, which sounds the most interesting?

Example A: Gary was running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off. He was overworked and stressed out.

Example B: Gary was overworked and running around like a chicken with it’s head cut off.

Agreeably, example B makes the same point, but it also sounds better.

The later focuses on the value of changing phrases and words, not in a way the detracts from their original meaning, but rather helps the writer to get their point across without being so wordy that they lose the attention of their audience.

Writing Phrases in Different Ways

There are a number of ways that you can change phrases in English so that they make your writing better, without taking away from the point that you are trying to deliver. Such as,

Change a phrase into a single word or an adjective

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Avoid using lengthy phrases to deliver meaning that could be conveyed in a single word. Whenever possible, change phrases to less words.

Wordy: The hockey player with talent.. (5 words)
Concise: The talented hockey player (4 words)

Wordy: The team showing the best improvement (6 w0rds)
Concise: The most improved team (4 words)

Get rid of unnecessary ‘that’, ‘who’, and ‘which’ clauses

Using any sort of clause to express a meaning that could be presented in a shorter phrase or even a single word only results in overly wordy sentences. Whenever possible, convert clauses into smaller phrases.

Wordy: The insurance report which was released recently (seven words)
Concise: The recently released insurance report (four words)

Wordy: All applicants interested in the degree program next Fall must (ten words)
Concise: All college applicants must (four words)

Turn passive verbs into active ones

To turn a passive verb into an active one, you must first refer to the agent in the phrase – or take into consideration  who or what is performing the action. That agent needs to be the subject or the verb should be changed accordingly.

Wordy: A bank account was opened by Mrs. Jones (eight words)
Concise: Mrs. Jones opened a bank account  (six words)

Wordy: Your information was verified by our records department (eight words)
Concise: Our records department verified your information (six words)

Type of Changing Phrases in Text

One of the simplest, yet most effective, ways to change phrases to become smaller and more concise statements is simply to find more efficient ways of saying things by changing the verbiage.

For example, any of the phrases below might be better changed to “because”, “since”, or “why”:

  • The reason for
  • For the reason that
  • Due to the fact that
  • Owing to the fact that
  • In light of the fact that
  • Consider the fact that
  • On the grounds that
  • This is why

And any of the phrases below might be better changed to “must” or “should”:

  • It is crucial that
  • It is necessary that
  • There is a need for
  • It is important to

Lastly, the following phrases could be changed to “before”, “after” or “as”

  • Prior to
  • In anticipation of
  • In preparation
  • Subsequent to
  • At the same time as

Keep reading for more information on concise in a sentence.