Using Concise in a Sentence

When it comes to concise writing, the goal is to make use of the most effective words possible. Note that writing concisely does not necessarily mean using as few words as possible, but rather using the strongest words – or those that will deliver the greatest impact without becoming to far stretched.

It isn’t uncommon for writers to pad sentences with extra or unnecessary words for the sole purpose of achieving word count, filling white space or simply because they think that, in adding extra words, they are adding to the impact of their writing.

In reality, using words that are irrelevant, unneeded or redundant, you might actually be hindering your writing. Words that don’t add value to the sentences you are writing should be deleted. Using only the most appropriate wording results in written work that is more concise and easier to read and understand.

Outlined below, you will find general tips and guidelines, along with specific strategies for creating clearer and more concise sentences.

Using the Method of Concise in a Sentence

Concise, by way of definition means simply “the giving of a lot of information in a manner that is not only clear, but also uses as few words as necessary” Essentially, to say something is ‘concise’ means that it is quick and to the point.

Writing clearly and concisely is something that many writers struggle with. In essence, writers are wordsmiths, they have a deep rooted passion for language and, as with any passion or interest, sometimes it is easy to get carried away.

This is evident in written work that contains too many redundant or unnecessary words – words that can be considered filler or unnecessary fluff.

For example:

There are UFOs on the outside of town. I saw them with my own eyes.

In the sentence referenced above, the use of a pleonasm detracts from the intended delivery of the phrase. In this case, the pleonastic words are “I saw them” and “with my own eyes.” This is indicative of phrases that repeat themselves with not specific reason. Similar to “twelve noon” or “true fact”

To make this sentence more concise, and therefore, more effective, remove the redundant words “with my own eyes.”

There are UFOs on the outside of town. I saw them.

The use of redundant or pleonastic phrases in writing doesn’t necessarily mean that you are a bad writing, it just means that you have picked up a few bad habits – habits that you can quickly rectify if you know what you are looking for.

Here are 10 examples of  redundant phrases and their leaner, more concise counterparts.

  1. Twelve Noon vs Noon
  2. Twelve Midnight vs Midnight
  3. 5:00AM in the morning vs. 5:00AM
  4. Absolutely amazing vs. Amazing
  5. Biography of his life vs. Biography
  6. A person who is trustworthy vs. A trustworthy person
  7. Cooperate with each other  vs. Cooperate
  8. In the event of vs. If
  9. Enclosed within vs. Enclosed
  10. There is no doubt vs. No doubt

What is Concise Writing Method?

Asides from the addition of redundant words, which might occur as a result of bad habits or inexperience, writers also have a tendency to “beef up” their writing by adding a series of smaller, more abstruse words in an effort to convey a specific idea when, in reality, the concept might have been more aptly expressed using fewer (but more specific) words.

Generally speaking, using more specific verbiage results in more concise writing. All told, the variety of verbs, nouns, and adjectives result in most things having a corresponding description. You might find a thesaurus helpful for researching alternate words that might be better suited for specific occasions.

Below are a few examples of ‘wordy’ sentences, and their more concise – but more effective – counterparts.

Wordy: The teacher talked about many of the different benefits of the after-school homework club when she addressed the class (nineteen words)

Concise: The teacher hyped the homework club to the class. (nine words)

Wordy: Tara believed but could not prove that Cara stole her tuna sandwich. (twelve words)

Concise: Tara assumed that Cara stole her lunch. (seven words)

Wordy: Our website has available a list of social services in the city that can help residents find a hot meal. (twenty words)

Concise: A list of hot meal programs are available on our website. (eleven words)

The trick to using concise language in your writing is to verify that every word you use is adding something of value to your sentence or statement. If a word is only filling space, or comes across as being redundant, it should be deleted or replaced by one that has more of an impact.

Below are a few examples of sentences that contain words that should be deleted or replaced.

Wordy: The coach demonstrated some of the various techniques that players could use to improve their stick handling and defence skills.  (twenty words)

Concise: The coach showed the players how to improve their defence. (10 words)

Wordy: Julie and Cara met in kindergarten, in 1999. They were inseparable through elementary school and high school. They spent every weekend at each other’s houses and did everything together. It only made sense for Cara to be Julie’s Maid of Honor at her wedding next Fall. (forty six words)

Concise: Having been best friends since Kindergarten, it was safe to assume that Cara would be Julie’s Maid of Honor.  (nineteen words)

Exact Concision Definition

Dictionary.com defines concise as:

Adjective

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  1. Expressing or covering much in few words; brief in form but comprehensive in scope; succinct; terse: a concise explanation of the company’s retirement plan.

It further goes on to say:

  1. Concise refers to speech or writing that uses few words to say much. Concise usually implies that unnecessary details or verbiage have been eliminated from a more wordy statement: a concise summary of the speech.

Conciseness in Writing

In order to mature your writing, it is prudent to make a more conscious effort to write concisely. Here are a few guidelines and best practices that will help you in that regard.

Wherever possible, reduce clauses to phrases or phrases to single words.

Be mindful of the use of wordy sections of writing that might be better suited to smaller, more precise constructions. The most common example of this is “which” statements. Often times, these sections can be reduced to simpler, shorter adjectives. (Note that there are times when the use of the word “which” is necessary, depending on the sentence)

Example: Kensington College, which was first opened in 1902, is the leading Liberal Arts college in London.

Corrected: Founded in 1902, Kensington College is the leading Liberal Arts college in London.

There are also times when it might be more beneficial to reduce a phrase to a few words, or even less.

Example: Overwhelmed by the stress of having to work three jobs to support his wife and children, and feeling like he was not being appreciated, Mark moved out of the house while his family slept.

Corrected: Mark could no longer handle the stress of being his family’s sole provider, so he left.

Words that are meant to intensify but aren’t intensifiers.

Steer clear of using words like very, really, extremely, severally etc. when they are not absolutely necessary. It is likely good enough to say that ‘her cooking skills were inadequate’ rather than saying ‘her cooking skills were tremendously inadequate.’ This doesn’t mean that you should strike these words from your vernacular, but you should save them to use at a better time.

Stay away from Expletive Constructions

Expletive phrases and words are those that do not add any grammatical or structural value to the sentence. Writing instructors often refer to these types of words as ‘empty, meaningless or redundant’ because they do nothing to add any sort of information to the sentence or phrase. These types of words have no place in concise writing.

Typically, expletive constructions will start with words like ‘there is’ or ‘it is’.

Example: There are seventeen girls in my class. Each of them has experienced unwelcome catcalls or harassment this year. Sexual harassment is a growing concern.

The use of expletive constructions in the sentence above robs it for it’s merit before it has a chance to deliver any sort of impact.

Corrected: Sexual harassment is a growing concern that every girl in my class has experienced.

Phrases that you can leave out of your writing

Try to avoid sentences or phrases that do nothing to add any sort of value to the intended meaning of your statement. These phrases are often considered to be unnecessary filler, and can be very off putting to the reader, or they might even discourage the reader from continuing to read your writing.

Here are a few examples of unnecessary phrases that you can omit from your writing, unless they are necessary and adding value.

  1. All things considered
  2. As a matter of fact
  3. As far as I am concerned
  4. At present time
  5. By way of
  6. Because of the idea that
  7. Due to the notion that
  8. For all intents and purposes
  9. For the most part
  10. In the case of
  11. In my opinion
  12. In the nature of
  13. The point I am trying to make is
  14. Why I mean to say is
  15. By way of introduction

Granted, this is not to suggested that any of the above mentioned examples are ‘useless’ or serve no purpose in writing, but there are times when it might be more advantageous to say less.

For example, saying something like “for the most part, the community is committed to becoming more self-sustaining and eco-friendly” might be more impactful if it were written as “the community has made a commitment to be more environmentally aware.”

Or, writing something like “For all intents and purposes, Samantha was embarrassed by her inability to dance, so she took lessons before prom” might read better if it were written as “Samantha took dance lessons before prom so that she did not step on her date’s feet.”

Avoiding clichés

To say that something is cliché, means that it is dated or overused. Granted, these phrases might have, at one time, been ‘the bee’s knees’, or possibly even ‘the cat’s meow’, but they are no longer ‘cool beans.” In fact, they are probably more annoying and trite than anything else.

No one is ‘head over heels’ in love with these tired expressions any more. In order to write more concisely, you will need to break up with your favorite sayings and catch phrases -at least in your writing anyways. Your teacher doesn’t want to read about how you have ‘all of your ducks in a row’ or about that time you ‘put boots to the ground.’

This doesn’t mean that you can’t still be ‘cool as a cucumber’ after you’ve finished your writing project.

Examples of Concise Writing Technique

With practice, writers learn to write more concisely. As mentioned above,  there are a number of things that can be done to facilitate the conciseness of your writing. They include:

  • Avoiding pleonasms
  • Removing redundant words or phrases
  • Choosing leaner or more specific adjectives
  • Reducing clauses or phrases to single words or shorter sentences
  • Avoiding unnecessary intensifiers
  • Omitting phrases that add no value to your writing
  • Staying away from clichés

Using ‘concise’ in a sentence and writing concisely are two very different skills. Continue reading to learn how you can writer clearer and more concise sentences.