Saturday, July 10, 2010

The ONE Word You Should Almost Always Edit OUT!

Phew! What a long post title. But it would've been LONGER had I not followed my own advice about "The ONE Word You Should Almost Always Edit OUT"

You see, the ONE word is (drumroll, please)... that.

What's the word?

That's the word.

I'm asking YOU what the word is! Okay... I'll quit before I end up plagiarizing the "Who's On First" skit.

But, seriously, writers, the one word you can almost always edit out is the word "that."

I could've written my title as "The one word THAT you should almost always edit out." And that (correct usage) wording would've been acceptable usage, per se, but simply NOT necessary!

Why should you remove most of the "that's" from your writing?

1. Most of the time "that" is not essential to the sentence - it's filler, fluff, verbosity.
2. Most of the time the rule for "that" is not being followed correctly, so let's review. WHEN is it acceptable to use "that"?
  • If you're telling WHICH ONE - "The book that I borrowed is back on the shelf." (which book? the one that I borrowed).
  • If you need "that" in order to be clear - "She felt that her hair was disheveled." If you remove "that," then you have "She felt her hair..." which is confusing!
Here is an example of unnecessary use of "that":
  • I knew that I had a long day tomorrow. (NO, NO, NO! This is incorrect - I am not talking about WHICH ONE, so the use of "that" is unnecessary!). Just say "I knew I had a long day tomorrow."
Be concise. Be clear! Go through your writing and remove the offending "that's!"

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