Don’t Express It!

Here’s a ghastly sentence I came across recently:

Another dance friend who has not taken lessons in a number of years due to a move expressed this situation with Naomi to be a wake up call for her.

I am not going to say that this mess was created by a terrible writer. I often write sentences almost this bad myself! But here’s the thing. I never let anyone else see them. I fix them.

Here’s my version:

Another dance friend stopped taking lessons when she moved several years ago. Now she’s back on the dance floor. “What happened to Naomi was a wake up call,” she said.

Please, please: express is not a synonym for said or told. You express a feeling. You don’t express a problem with your boss or an insight into your son’s behavior.

And let me throw in a bonus point for you: often the best way to fix a messy sentence is to rewrite it as two or three sentences. That trick worked well today, didn’t it?

A chalkboard that asks if I'm doing this right.


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