Wednesday, January 27, 2010

How Not to Start a Sentence


Do not start a sentence with an expletive. I am not talking about bad-words here, I am talking about the word there or it followed by is or are. These are technically called expletives, or false subjects. Expletives are not grammatically incorrect. They are just boring and wasteful. Two of the most important words in any sentence are the subject and the verb. By starting with an expletive, you waste these two prime locations on content-free words. Sometimes even passive voice is preferable to starting your sentence with an expletive, if only to get the important nouns and verbs into the subject and verb positions. Sometimes the presence of an expletive at the front of the sentence can indicate that you have not included enough content in the sentence and have merely stated that something exists. Check out these upgrades to a sentence in which the expletive (ahem) has been deleted.

Instead of: There are three buttons at the bottom of the dialog box. [things existing]

Try: Three buttons are at the bottom of the dialog box. [important noun as subject]

Or: The dialog box has three buttons. [a different important noun as subject]

Or better: The dialog box offers three choices. [upgrade verb to an action, upgrade “buttons” to state what they mean to the reader]

Or even better: Click one of the three buttons at the bottom of the dialog box. [action verb using direct address to talk directly to the reader]

Or in the order a reader will need the information: At the bottom of the dialog box, click one of the three buttons.


Or giving more detailed content: At the bottom of the dialog box, click Delete, Rename, or Ignore.

It is not grammatically incorrect to start a sentence with an expletive (case in point, this sentence), but when you read over your own writing, consider whether the expletive could be upgraded to a more informative noun-verb combo, allowing you to pack more content into fewer words.

17 comments:

ayumiyu20 said...

wonderful work! the way you discuss the subject i'm very impressed. i'll bookmark this webpage and be back more often to see more updates from you.

ayumi
www.brfe.net

yappebbles said...

I’m impressed. Very informative and trustworthy blog does exactly what it sets out to do. I’ll bookmark your weblog for future use.

Pebbles
www.joeydavila.net

sarah lee said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.


edupdf.org

Leslie Lim said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often..


Pauleen
www.imarksweb.org

joy said...


The real necklace of a woman is not her looks but her heart. Visit my site for more interesting offer. Thank you and God bless!

n8fan.net

www.n8fan.net

sarah lee said...

I really enjoyed reading your article. I found this as an informative and interesting post, so i think it is very useful and knowledgeable. I would like to thank you for the effort you have made in writing this article.


edupdf.org

andrea chiu said...


Thank you for sharing your thoughts and for inspiring us. Keep it up and continue on what your doing. Visit my site too.

triciajoy.com

www.triciajoy.com

Glen Brown said...

There has been every possible stance and probable opinions have been put up here and must do need to regard about more of the possible prospects. noun check

Robert Linde said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Kateron said...

Academic Sciences is excited about our elite Dissertation Writing Services. As the leading academic writing and consultation firm of the UK, Academic Sciences helps students pursue and achieve academic success. this website

Thomas L. Dunn said...

We have must know about the importance of healthy items for our health. It is only possible if we are educate and we learn about these things. Education is very important for living a healthy life. You can meet our expert writers through services website and get improvement in your writing result.read here

Brenda Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kurtis Miller said...

I am always searching online for articles that can help me. There is obviously a lot to know about this. I think you made some good points in Features also. Keep working, great job! cheap translation service

Brenda Smith said...

In developing countries, terrorism are increase due to the lack of education. Because they are not know the difference between about right and wrong. If they are educate then they can be a good person and distributes the development of their country. teacher plagiarism checker

aliya seen said...

From writing your thesis as a student to researchers wanting to put together a journal article or even their own book there is a huge amount of writing that needs to be done. But we do not always have the skills at writing or even the time to get the task done on time or to the standard required. This is why so many will want to use ghostwriter thesis online to get their writing done.

Nancy Johnston said...

Amazing post.

Nancy Johnston said...

It is such an important topic and ignored by in view of that many, even professionals. I thank you to assist making people more familiar of attainable issues.For paragraph correction click here