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Good writing means that you eliminate unnecessary words like prepositions. Find out why. #grammartips #writingtips

Reduce Prepositions for Writing Clarity

By Amber Roshay

If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.” –George Orwell

I’m sure you've read that good writing means less is more. Well, this concept applies to prepositions as well. Some examples of prepositions are: with, at, in, on, about, around and so on. Prepositions connect ideas, describe the position of something or when it happens. They are usually before nouns or pronouns and explain how the preposition relates to the rest of the sentence.

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They describe for example:

Position of something:

The pen is on the table.

The time something happens:

The party will begin at 9 o’clock.

How something happens:

We usually go by bus to see the parade.

Prepositions can be more than one word

The woman sat down next to me on the train, and I forgot my name.

How do you reduce prepositions?

  1. Use the active voice
  2. Delete prepositional phrases
  3. Use the genitive or possessive
  4. Eliminate nominalizations

NOTE: Grab your free writing prompts HERE!

Now, let’s go over each way in more detail.

  1. Use the active voice

By using the active voice, not only will your writing be stronger, but you’ll also reduce prepositions.

Passive Sentence

Warm milk is added to the bread by the baker.

Active Sentence

The baker adds warm milk to the bread.

You reduced the number of adverbs from two to one.

  1. Delete prepositional phrases

Prepositional phrases include a preposition + adjective + noun

in the warm water

next to the flickering light

on the pink chair

You have to decide if this prepositional phrase is necessary.

Sentence with the prepositional phrase

The boat will be waiting in the warm water at 10 o’clock.

Sentence without the prepositional phrase

The boat will be waiting at 10 o’clock.

Sentence with the prepositional phrase

Tim found a small nail next to the flickering light and put it in his pocket.

Sentence without the prepositional phrase

Tim found a small nail and put it in his pocket.

  1. Use the genitive or possessive

Using the genitive or possessive will help reduce prepositions. The possessive means that the noun owns something.

Examples of possession

My mother’s purse fell into the water.

The children’s mother’s purse fell into the dirty bay water.

Reducing prepositions by using the possessive.

She was relieved by the desire of the children to go to sleep.

The children’s desire to sleep gave her a sense of relief.

The t-shirt of the muses slipped from her pale shoulders.

The muse’s t-shirt slipped from her pale shoulders.

  1. Eliminate nominalizations

Nominalizations are buried or smothered verbs. Uncovering these verbs will add clarity to your writing.

Sentence with nominalization

Their need of justifying of why they went to the beach was unnecessary.

Sentence without nominalization

Their justification of going to the beach was unnecessary.

You eliminated four words, two of them prepositions.

Practice: Count the number of words in an article/blog you wrote recently. Or grab your free writing prompts to kick-off your writing flow before you edit for prepositions.

Rewrite your article to have 300 fewer words. By reducing the number of words in your article, you’ll have to eliminate unnecessary words like prepositions.

Look for ways to reduce prepositions by looking for instances where you can change passive to active, delete prepositional phrases, and eliminate nominalizations.

Want to improve your grammar skills? Join our Blogger Grammar Refresher Course. Click HERE!

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