Monday, February 22, 2010

sharpening your writing: lazy sentence beginnings.

Avoid starting your sentences with “It” and “There”:

It is…

It was…

There is…

There are…

There was…

There were…

These are all lazy ways to start an idea. Why? You make your reader guess what you mean by using “It”.  It what?  What is it?

Using “There” is also rather useless. Think about it. What is the difference in these two ides?

There were ten men standing in line.
Ten men were standing in line.

Answer: Nothing—except the first one has the useless “There were” at the beginning.

All “There is/are/was/were” does is point to something.  It is almost like walking up to someone and saying, “I am going to talk to you now,” instead of just talking to the person!

There is always a better way to begin a sentence.


A better way to start a sentence always exists.

That’s better! You have to practice to see the different ways, though, so let’s look at some examples and then do a few exercises. The first sentence has a lazy beginning, but the second one corrects this by making a more direct sentence.

It is necessary to study.
Studying is necessary.

It was a rainy day, so we could not have recess.
We could not have recess because it was a rainy day. 

There was nothing to stop me from getting an “A” on the test.
Nothing could stop me from getting an “A” on the test. 

There are too many cars on this narrow road!
Too many cars are on this narrow road! 

There is a lot of sugar in this candy.
A lot of sugar is in this candy. 

Do you get the idea now? You need to take away the lazy part and rearrange the sentence. Sometimes, you can even find a whole new way to express the idea. 

There is a lot of sugar in this candy.
This candy is loaded with sugar! 

It does not take much to avoid these awkward sentence beginnings once you know a few helpful tricks.

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