How to Eliminate Wordiness

Teaching Students How to Improve Student Essays from Gay Miller @ Book Units TeacherHave you ever wondered how to teach students to eliminate wordiness in their essays? Professional writers edit and rewrite texts repeatedly. This post contains four areas to look for when revising for conciseness.

Do not have students memorize these lists. Instead teach the concept of eliminating wordiness. Go over the examples. Have students look through their writing to see if they have clouded the meaning they wish to convey with unneeded words.

Have students look for the following:

  • redundant pairs
  • explaining the obvious
  • using unnecessary modifiers
  • repeating thoughts

 

Teaching students to be aware of, finding, and eliminating unneeded words will greatly improve their writing.

Here is an organizer that will help.

Redundant Pairs

Teaching Students How to Eliminate Wordy Text in Essays from Gay Miller @ Book Units Teacher

Redundant pairs repeat something unnecessary. For example, tuna is a type of fish, so writers can simply say tuna instead of tuna fish. A shortlist is provided to explain what redundant pairs are. Ask students to name some more. The list could be quite lengthy.

Examples

    • return again
    • general consensus
    • revert back
    • personal friend
    • unneeded luxury
    • mix together
    • past memories
    • true facts
    • important essentials
    • end results
    • unexpected surprise
    • may possibly
    • tuna fish
    • untrue lie
    • regular routine
    • rise up

Explain the Obvious

Teaching Students How to Eliminate Wordy Text in Essays from Gay Miller @ Book Units Teacher

Have students remove words and phrases that explain the obvious. If the information is already implied, it does not need to be stated again.

For example, Bill sat down in the chair. (Can you sit any other way except down?) Instead, have students write… Bill sat in the chair.

Here is another example.

My friend and I split a piece of cheesecake between us.

Unnecessary Modifiers and Determiners

Teaching Students How to Eliminate Wordy Text in Essays from Gay Miller @ Book Units Teacher

Another mistake students make is to clog up their writing with unnecessary modifiers and determiners.

Here is a list to look for when editing writing.

  • kind of
  • sort of
  • type of
  • really
  • basically
  • for all intents and purposes
  • definitely
  • actually
  • generally
  • really
  • very
  • rather
  • individual
  • specific
  • particular

Any particular type of beach chair is fine with me.

The box was completely full of clothes.

Often unnecessary modifiers can be replaced with stronger adjectives.

Here is an example:

She went on a very long walk across the really long meadow.

This sentence would be edited to say…

She strolled across the vast meadow.

Eliminate Wordiness – Repetitive Wording

Teaching Students How to Eliminate Wordy Text in Essays from Gay Miller @ Book Units Teacher

Have students review their writing for words and phrases that repeat themselves in the same paragraph. Here are a couple of examples. I woke up about midnight because of a loud sound that woke me up.

It was a dark and stormy night. During the night. I had a nightmare about thunder and lightning. Suddenly, a loud crash of lightning woke me up. It was a stormy night for me.

The box was completely full of clothes.

Often unnecessary modifiers can be replaced with stronger adjectives. Look at the example on the image.

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