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Edit modifiers for concision

Modifiers are words or phrases that provide additional information about key elements in a sentence. Modifiers can provide useful details; however, when imprecise, they add extra, unhelpful words. For example, in the sentences below, the words most, really, and very don't add significant details to the sentences:

  • Most of the research subjects improved their scores.
  • It's really important to submit the essay on time.
  • The students are very nervous about their final exams.

The sentences are more concise when the modifiers are replaced with precise descriptions:

  • 85% of research subjects improved their scores.
  • It's crucial to submit the essay on time.
  • The students are anxious about their final exams.

For more information on editing modifiers to improve the conciseness of your writing, please see Modifiers and qualifiers: Editing for concision, which is also available in the Concise Writing section of the Writing Centre website.

If you have any questions about this tip, please contact the Writing Centre.

Theresa Bell
Writing centre coordinator

(Originally published in Crossroads December 15, 2014)

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