Revise excessive prepositional phrases - Graduate Writing Center

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Revising Excessive Prepositional Phrases


Prepositional phrases (preposition + object) tend to build up and generate confusion. Consider the following examples: 

  1. I run down the street. 
  2. I run down the street on Tuesday.
  3. I run down the street across the highway through the trees down to the beach and jump into the lake on Tuesday.

Does anyone really remember that you were running?

Cutting down some of the prepositional phrases can help your reader understand your meaning. Here are a few examples of how to do so. 

  • "The countries that had defeated Germany gathered outside of Paris and signed the Treaty of Versailles in January of 1919."
  1. Put dates first and delete ”of” between month and year: "In January 1919, the countries that defeated Germany gathered outside of Paris and signed the Treaty of Versailles."
  2. Replace two prepositions with one and put another prepositional phrase up front: "In January 1919, gathered near Paris, the countries that defeated Germany signed the Treaty of Versailles." 
  • "This war was of inevitable nature because Athens was growing at a rapid rate, and it brought concern not only to Sparta but also to city states in the surrounding areas."
  1. Use a conjunctive adverb ("inevitably") in place of six words ("This war was of inevitable nature");
  2. Replace the “was” phrase ("Athens was growing at a rapid rate") with an apostrophe and an adjective ("Athens’s rapid growth");
  3. Use specific and concise wording when possible (do we really need the "and it"?)
  4. Take an adjective out of the prepositional phrase and place it behind the noun it modifies: "city states in the surrounding areas"-->"surrounding city states";

Here we have it: "Inevitably, Athens’s rapid growth created concern for both Sparta and surrounding city states, which led to war." Your word count will love it.

 

Link to preposition revision

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