NCO Primary Leadership Subjects
Rule 4: Keep Sentences Short
To keep sentences short you should:
Avoid smothered verbs.
Avoid the use of needless repetition and sentence stretchers.
Most sentences vary between 10 to 15 words on the short side and between 35 and
40 words on the long side. Your sentences should not be at either extreme but
should average around 15 words. In general, sentences should contain what you can
say aloud in one breath or in less than two lines of type.
Conciseness makes sentences emphatic. It keeps them short and to the point.
In my opinion, a good writer can get a point across in less than 20
EMPHATIC: A good writer can get a point across in less than 20 words.
Due to the fact that most writers have a tendency to be wordy, we
can probably cut approximately 30 percent of the words in a first
draft without really affecting the meaning to any serious extent.
We can cut 30 percent from our wordy first drafts without
changing the meaning.
Military writers frequently use smothered verbs. "Smothering" converts a verb into a
noun by adding the suffix -age, -ance, -ment, -sion, or -tion. It reduces the emphasis
provided by the main verb in a sentence. The weaker noun only states the act of the
verb not the action itself.
breakage, attendance, contentment, conclusion, promotion.
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