Slash Your Way Through These Prose Thickets

Rob Kyff on

Reading awkward, verbose prose can feel like trying to navigate a dense thicket of branches and bushes. You become so snagged, snared and entangled by overgrown verbiage that you can't find the meaning of the sentence.

Below are eight wordy sentences. Grab your machete, and start chopping. Hack away passive verbs; slash redundant words; cut down long strings of prepositional phrases to create sentences that are clear, crisp and concise.


1. It has been debated by scholars as to whether legislators owe primary loyalty to their consciences or their constituents.

2. A plea of temporary insanity is not constitutionally based and will therefore be rejected by the court.

3. The governor's mobilization of the National Guard proved to be in conflict with a state law requiring the leaders of the state legislature to be consulted by the governor about such actions.


4. The state statute contains a very general grant of authority allowing for the governor to have a broad range of powers and options in a vast number of potential circumstances.

5. Maintaining public order is an important priority in cases in which a government official deals with situations of civil unrest or violence.

6. The question being asked by the justices was whether or not the federal takeover of the mines was constitutionally based.

7. The defendant's argument of needing to provide for his family was not accepted by the judge due to the irrelevance of this testimony.


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