Avoiding Wordiness

Skill: Writing

Category: General English & Academic English

Level: Upper-Intermediate

Avoiding Wordiness

Wordiness means utilizing too many words to carry a single thought whether consciously or unconsciously and it is a very common mistake for second language learners. Wordiness increases the length of writing without adding any meaning to the text. Worse than that, it makes the writing complex and difficult to understand.


Original text: 26 words

For all of the reasons and purposes, Mr. Johnson arrived late for the party was due to the fact that was shopping from that big store.

Reworded text: 11 words

Mr. Johnson arrived late for the party because he was shopping.

Note: Try to eliminate some words from the sentence and if it is still meaningful, the sentence is wordy, but do not remove a word which is mandatory for the grammar of the sentence and especially when it is a keyword, a fact, a feeling or description.

Ways to Avoid wordiness

Do not use unclear words that require more explanation

Wordy: She talked to him in a wrong and degrading manner.

Concise: She insulted him.

Use single words instead of long expressions

Wordy: to put forward the idea that

Concise: To suggest

Wordy: To as a question

Concise: To ask

Do not explain the listing

Wordy: I went to the supermarket and bought two loaves of bread. I also bought some vegetables and finally, I got a kilo of fresh fruit.

Concise: I bought two loaves of bread, some vegetables and a kilo of fruit from the supermarket.

Do not overuse passive voice

Mostly, the passive voice of the verb requires more words than the active voice.

Wordy: The thief was caught by the police on the street and later he was sentenced to jail.

Concise: The police caught the thief and sent him to jail.

Do not overuse “it” and “there”

Wordy: It was really exciting to attend in Sara’s wedding party.

Concise: Sara’s wedding party was really exciting.

Wordy: There were forty-three patients in the lobby who were waiting for the doctor to come.

Concise: Forty-three patients in the lobby were waiting for the doctor.

Do not use negative constructions

Wordy: His bad behavior was not unworthy of punishment.

Concise: His bad behavior or worthy of punishment.

Avoid using long phrases

Wordy                                                  Concise 

Due to the matter of fact                           in fact

It is usually the case that                         usually

Regardless of the fact that                       even though

During the course of                               during

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