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Cách viết tiếng Anh [và bất kỳ tiếng nào on earth] ngắn gọn, súc tích – Writing Clear, Concise Sentences

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Nếu bạn đã viết tiếng Việt ngon rồi thì không cần phải đọc bài này làm gì kẻo phí thời gian. Cũng giống nhau cả thôi. Tiếng nào cũng đến thế mà thôi.

Nếu không thì có thể xem thêm bài Nguyên tắc KISS trong viết tiếng Anh – Keep It Short and Simple và bài Làm sao để khỏi “dài dòng văn tự” – wordiness

Và cũng nên xem thêm bài: Cách biến hóa trong viết tiếng Anh (và cả tiếng Việt) để tránh nhàm chán – Variation in writing


 

if-you-cant-explain-it-simply-you-dont-understand-it-well-enough-albert-einstein

 

USE THE ACTIVE VOICE

At the heart of every good sentence is a strong, precise verb; the converse is true as well–at the core of most confusing, awkward, or wordy sentences lies a weak verb.

See more below:

Try to use the active voice whenever possible.

1.  Active vs. passive voice

In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

Active: The candidate believes that Congress must place a ceiling on the budget.

Passive: It is believed by the candidate that a ceiling must be placed on the budget by Congress.

ActiveResearchers earlier showed that high stress can cause heart attacks.

PassiveIt was earlier demonstrated that heart attacks can be caused by high stress.

ActiveThe dog bit the man.

PassiveThe man was bitten by the dog.

2.  Converting sentences to active voice

Here are some tips and strategies for converting sentences from the passive to the active voice.

  • Look for a “by” phrase (g., “by the dog” in the last example above). If you find one, the sentence may be in the passive voice. Rewrite the sentence so that the subject buried in the “by” clause is closer to the beginning of the sentence.
  • If the subject of the sentence is somewhat anonymous, see if you can use a general term, such as “researchers,” or “the study,” or “experts in this field.”

3.  When to use passive voice

There are sometimes good reasons to use the passive voice.

To emphasize the action rather than the actor

After long debate, the proposal was endorsed by the long-range planning committee.

To keep the subject and focus consistent throughout a passage

The data processing department recently presented what proved to be a controversial proposal to expand its staff. After long debate, the proposal was endorsed by . . . .

To be tactful by not naming the actor

The procedures were somehow misinterpreted.

To describe a condition in which the actor is unknown or unimportant

Every year, thousands of people are diagnosed as having cancer.

To create an authoritative tone

Visitors are not allowed after 9:00 p.m.

PUT THE ACTION IN THE VERB

Put all the action of a sentence into the verb. Don’t bury the action in a noun or blur it across the entire sentence.

Good: The committee has to approach it differently.

Bad: The establishment of a different approach on the part of the committee has become a necessity.

BE AWARE OF NOMNALIZATIONS

Watch out especially for nominalizations (verbs that have been made into nouns by the addition of -tion).

Nominalization: An evaluation of the procedures needs to be done.

How to fix it: We need to evaluate the procedures.

Nominalization: The procedures need to be evaluated.

How to fix it: We need to evaluate the procedures..

Nominalization: The stability and quality of our financial performance will be developed through the profitable execution of our existing business, as well as the acquisition or development of new businesses.

How to fix it: We will improve our financial performance not only by executing our existing business more profitably but by acquiring or developing new businesses.

PUT WORDY PHRASES ON A DIET

1.  Make sentences concise by eliminating wordy phrases.

Wordy: In a situation in which a class is over-enrolled, you may request that the instructor force-add you.

Concise: When a class is over-enrolled, you may ask the instructor to force-add you.

Wordy: I will now make a few observations concerning the matter of contingency funds.

Concise: I will now make a few observations about contingency funds.

Wordy: There is a need for more careful inspection of all welds.

Concise: You must inspect all welds more carefully.
Inspect all welds more carefully.

REDUCE WORDY VERBS

Try to keep the action of a sentence clear by using concise, direct verbs.

1. Words to use

Here’s how to revise some common wordy verb phrases:

Instead of . . . Use . . .
·         is aware of

·         has knowledge of

knows
·         is taking takes
·         are indications of indicates
·         are suggestive of suggest

REDUCE UNNECESSARY PREPOSITIONAL PHRASES

Sometimes prepositional phrases aren’t really necessary, especially when you use them (instead of an apostrophe + s) to denote possession of an object.

Also, try to avoid using too many prepositional phrases in a single sentence, since they can obscure the main subject and action of a sentence.

Examples

  • Unnecessary phrase: The opinion of the manager
  • Correction: The manager’s opinion
  • Unnecessary phrase: The obvious effect of such a range of reference is to assure the audience of the author’s range of learning and intellect.
  • Correction: The wide-ranging references in this talk assure the audience that the author is intelligent and well-read.
  • Unnecessary phrase: It is a matter of the gravest possible importance to the health of anyone with a history of a problem with disease of the heart that he or she should avoid the sort of foods with a high percentage of saturated fats.
  • Correction: Anyone with a history of heart disease should avoid saturated fats.

REDUCE EXPLETIVE CONSTRUCTIONS

Expletive constructions are phrases such as:

  • it is
  • there is
  • there are

Try to avoid using them, since these constructions merely obscure the main subject and action of a sentence.

Examples

  • Expletive: It washer last argument that finally persuaded me.
  • Correction: Her last argument finally persuaded me.
  • Expletive: There are likely to be many researchers raising questions about this methodological approach.
  • Correction: Many researchers are likely to raise questions about this methodological approach.
  • Expletive: It is inevitable that oil prices will rise.
  • Correction: Oil prices will inevitably rise.

AVOIDING USING VAGUE NOUNS

Try to avoid using the following vague, all-purpose nouns, which sometimes lead to wordiness, especially when used in prepositional phrases.

  • factor
  • aspect
  • area
  • situation
  • consideration
  • degree
  • case

Examples

Vague: Consumer demand is rising in the area of services.

Precise: Consumers are demanding more services.

Vague: Strong reading skills are an important factor in students’ success in college.

Precise: Students’ success in college depends on their reading skills.

Vague: Photography took on new aspects during the Civil War.

Precise: The Civil War saw the advent of graphic battlefield photography.

AVOID UNNECESSARY INFLATED WORDS

While a large vocabulary is useful, you should try to avoid using inflated diction if a simpler phrase works equally well.

Examples

Inflated: cognizant of

Simple: aware of, knows

Inflated: facilitate

Simple: help

Inflated: impact on

Simple: affect

Inflated: implement

Simple: start, create, carry out, begin

Inflated: subsequent to

Simple: after

Inflated: utilize

Simple: use

AVOID NOUN STRINGS

Unless readers are familiar with your terminology (or jargon), avoid using phrases with many consecutive nouns (noun strings).

Examples

Noun string: MHS has a hospital employee relations improvement program.

Correction: MHS has a program to improve relations among employees.

Noun string: NASA continues to work on the International Space Station astronaut living-quarters module development project.

Correction: NASA is still developing the module that will provide living quarters for the astronauts aboard the International Space Station.

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