Sunday, March 2, 2014

Short and Sweet: Watch Out for IT

Sometimes the pronoun “it” does important work in a sentence, acting as a true pronoun by standing in for another noun. Sometimes, however, the word “it” signals an impersonal construction, often with a passive verb. Not good.

So, read through your writing and look for every use of the word “it” to see what’s going on. If the word “it” is acting as a true pronoun, that’s great, but if "it" signals a weak passage in your writing, you might want to revise, especially if you are trying to reducing your word count. Checking for “it” is also a good way to double-check on “its” (belonging to it) versus “it’s” (= it is).

Below are some examples of impersonal uses of “it” that benefit from revising, along with a 30% reduction in the word count:

BEFORE: It is our shared experience that makes me trust you. (10 words)
AFTER: Our shared experience makes me trust you. (7 words)

BEFORE: It is because I love that I say these words. (10 words)
AFTER: I say these words because I love you. (7 words)

BEFORE: It is important for you to remember the wizard's name. (10 words)
AFTER: You need to remember the wizard's name. (7 words)

BEFORE: It is sometimes necessary for children to confront their parents. (10 words)
AFTER: Sometimes children must confront their parents. (6 words)

BEFORE: It is fully established that the sword possesses magical powers. (10 words)
AFTER: The sword definitely possesses magical powers. (6 words)

BEFORE: It is not known to the brothers what the words mean. (11 words)
AFTER: The brothers do not know what the words mean. (9 words)

BEFORE: It is obligatory for you to pay me a reward. (11 words)
AFTER: You must pay me a reward. (6 words)

BEFORE: It will be possible for you to climb the walls at night. (12 words)
AFTER: You will be able to climb the walls at night. (10 words)

BEFORE: It is believed by everyone that the thief is hiding in the forest. (13 words)
AFTER: Everyone believes the thief is hiding in the forest. (9 words)

BEFORE: I must go to the river, and it is there that I will perform my prayers. (16 words)
AFTER: I must go to the river, and there I will perform my prayers. (13 words)


For more strategies to use in reducing your word count while improving your writing, see this list: Short and Sweet Writing Strategies.



Cousin Itt Stamp by Mikhail S. Dingle.




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