You're Out of Order

I remember writing class back in grade school. Sister Maria Mercedes would ask us to write an essay about our summer vacation in 500 words or more. And so even if all I did that summer was watch TV and reorganize the pantry by arranging the canned goods in alphabetical order, I had to come up with a long-winded, adjective and adverb filled piece that Sister Maria Mercedes probably read as a replacement for sleeping pills.

Sadly, this nation produced generations of students who cared more about reaching their 500-word quotas than coming up with clear, concise, creative writing. Back then that kind of writing was called flowery. Today I call it an environmental crime; a waste of dead trees, ink, and teachers’ caffeine allowances.

To this day, students still attempt to please their teachers and readers by using their arsenal of sentence lengtheners – adverbs, prepositional phrases, interjections, and a million ways to say, “She said” –- “she enthusiastically exclaimed,” “she immediately uttered with a loud gasp of breath.”

One supposedly clever device is the phrase, “in order to.”
- In order to reduce our costs, we will limit employees’ use of the toilet to once a day.
- In order to meet his sales quota, Danny agreed to sell his soul.
- Sign on this order form in order to order your order.

Let’s arrest verbosity. Clear and concise writing is more effective. It also saves trees, bandwidth, and time. Delete the words “in order” and just write “to.”
- To reduce our costs, we will limit employees’ use of the toilet to once a day.
- To meet his sales quota, Danny agreed to sell his soul.
- Sign on this form to confirm your order.

Sister Maria Mercedes is no longer counting words. Neither should we. It’s more important to use fewer words, but let each word count.


  1. Ed Ebreo said...
    Wow! Many, many thanks Grammar Pulis! This will definitely and absolutely diminish the lengthiness of the blog posts, I painstakingly compose. I shall religiously follow your helpful advice in order to take away all the absolutely unnecessary words in my posts and in order to have my readers appreciate more each and every blog post that I write. wala pang 500 words yan ha!
    Helen said...
    Hi!, I saw your comment on Sherri's site.

    You have a most excellent and thought provoking point, so in order to eliminate unnecessary verbosity in my oral speech and written prose, I will be more aware of repetetive and redundant phrases. ;-)

    I hope it is okay with you that I am kidding around.
    Eric Montoya said...
    Now we are rather of the better view and opinion and surely by the time these would even proved to be much better for various parts of their success. maths paper presentation

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