GrammarPhile Blog

4 Ways to Eliminate the Bloat in Your Writing

Posted by Terri Porter   Jan 7, 2016 7:00:00 AM

After overindulging during the holidays, many of us resolve in the new year to eat less and exercise more in order to lose weight and get more fit. The resulting healthy glow comes from feeling more energized, motivated and confident. Imagine imbuing your writing with the same kind of energy! Eliminating the bloat can make your writing come alive and practically jump off the page to draw readers in.  

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Topics: passive voice, redundancy, bloated writing, active voice, verbosity

Dangling Modifiers Can Mangle Meaning

Posted by Terri Porter   Aug 20, 2015 6:30:00 AM

Dangling modifiers … it’s one of those terms editors seemingly toss around arbitrarily, accompanied by a command to correct the offending phrases. Well, of course, nobody wants their modifiers — or any other grammatical part — to dangle. But what on earth does that mean?

Defining Danglers

Modifiers are descriptive words, phrases or clauses. When the noun they’re describing is missing or unclear, they dangle. Modifiers can also be misplaced, which is a different kind of problem — and one we’ll talk about in next week’s post.

Most danglers are participles (verb forms used as adjectives) — either present (ending in ing) or past (usually ending in ed) — although gerunds (nouns made from verbs by adding -ing) can dangle too.

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Topics: passive voice, dangling modifiers, false subject

Be Active Not Passive

Posted by Phil Jamieson   Feb 11, 2015 4:30:00 AM

“You are loved.” Writing that in a valentine to your beloved instead of “I love you” likely will have a similar effect as giving a bouquet of roses with petals that are curling and turning brown — the thought may be there, but the desired effect loses some of its impact.

That’s what can happen with passive voice. Who is actually doing the action becomes hazy. Sometimes you want or need the subject to be ambiguous or want to emphasize the object, in which case passive constructions make sense.

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Topics: passive voice

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