Grammar-ease: Using ‘Because’ in Place of Wordy Phrases

It’s funny how editing commonalities come in spurts. In the past few weeks, I’ve noticed a lot of wordy phrases that can be shortened to “because.”

Do you ever use “due to the fact that”? Or maybe “owing to the fact that”?

How about “the reason is because” or “the reason is that”?

That type of wording is great when you’re working on NaNoWriMo and every word counts as you strive to hit 50,000 words by November 30, but in everyday writing, brevity goes a long way to clear communication.

Because

Which of each pair is cleaner:

  • School is cancelled due to the fact that a blizzard is forecasted.
  • School is cancelled because of the blizzard.
  • I like you because you are kind to animals.
  • The reason I like  you is because of your kindness to animals.
  • She failed the test because she didn’t study.
  • The reason she failed the test is that she didn’t study.
  • He isn’t a first-string player owing to the fact that he seldom practices.
  • He isn’t a first-string player because he seldom practices.
  • The reason several homes burnt down is that a gas line exploded.
  • Several homes burnt down because a gas line exploded.
  • I’m happy due to the fact that I met you.
  • I’m happy because I met you.
  • We came in over budget owing to the fact that we spent more than we had.
  • We came in over budget because we spend more than we had.
  • She was overtired due to the fact that she stayed up all night.
  • She was overtired because she stayed up all night.

The shorter sentences are easier to read, aren’t they?

What other wordy phrases can you think of that can be shortened to 1 or 2 words?

Lisa_2015Lisa J. Jackson is an independent writer and editor who enjoys working with manufacturing, software, and technology businesses of all sizes. She loves researching topics, interviewing experts, and helping companies tell their stories. You can connect with her on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

20 thoughts on “Grammar-ease: Using ‘Because’ in Place of Wordy Phrases

  1. I like brevity.

    But.

    It’s dangerous to replace a phrase the same way every time. Especially with a substitute word like ‘because’ in place of rewriting. Here’s some ways your examples could shrink, whilst saying more.

    1. “No school today. Big snow coming.”

    If your character’s a young kid in Yorkshire (the English always forget snow is possible until it’s about to happen) this would be perfect.

    2. “Animals like you. I like that.”

    Everybody who doesn’t actively commit animal cruelty or go hunting is ‘kind’ to animals. But when animals like people we tend to ascribe a powerful meaning to it, even using it as a justification for finding people attractive.

    3. She failed. I told her to study.

    4. He could be a star pitcher if he just practised.

    I missed out the ‘seldom’. But so would most characters saying something like this.

    5. Pipeline tragedy tears apart rural community.

    Okay, I didn’t mention the houses, and I added two details. But -assuming they were accurate – it captures the human story in the way a newspaper would typically aim to do.

    6. We overspent.

    7. I’m so happy I met you.

    8. She fell asleep in the exam after cramming overnight.

    Again, I added details. But, hopefully, the reader would understand and sympathise in a way that they would not if she were simply ‘overtired’. If she was tired because of partying, smoking pot, or launching a vicious personal vendetta against an ex-colleague on Twitter then you’d construct the idea to communicate that.

    I’ve used too many words already. But I’m going to return to my initial point, and then add an important qualification.

    For a writer, editing to simplistic formulae is bad. If you’re writing fiction, then your characters should have their own way of talking and thinking. The same applies to your narrator. Even – especially – if your narrator is omniscient. After all, that means that they are just the writer’s own persona in the world of the story. Outside books for very young children, you, and should, can give the reader some credit for their intelligence.

    For an editor, on the other hand – especially a very busy editor dealing with complex topics – getting things tight and on time will always mean working to simple rules. Thanks for looking at this one. I look forward to reading about more of them.

  2. As an ESL teacher, this is one of my standard teaching topics in every level that I teach. While short and crisp is good, English exams in ESL contain “transformation” questions which test their ability to change from because to due to. This is also done for active to passive, although to in spite of and many others.

  3. I love this because I do the same thing!
    Also, instead of in addition to is another.
    I actually go back and see if I repeat some words because of how I once wrote ask letters for a large charity!
    For standard donors – $5 – $900 we were to write between 5th – 8th grade level in our letters.
    For asks of $1000 & above the letters were written more like college essays it seemed but with a personal passion tucked in.
    I think it depends on your audience if it is a paid piece.
    I truly appreciate your inspirational & making me think blogs!
    I am new-ish to blogging, almost 6 months in, as I love to write!
    I have learned a lot!
    Thank you so much!

  4. This is refreshing. I have been raised to use those phrases instead of “because.” In school, we used to have grammar questions that required conversion from “because” to “due to,” “owing to the fact that,” etc. and “another” to “in addition to,” “,” etc. Using short and crisp language was akin to handing in a paper without editing it. Flowery language was applauded. Thank you for this post. It is nice to see that there are people out there who value succinct phrasing.

  5. Pingback: Grammar-ease: Using ‘Because’ in Place of Wordy Phrases | R.L. Fields

  6. Love the words oft written here. If I may…

    REDUNDANT: “not or no longer needed or useful; superfluous.”

    Perhaps this is a clearer explanation why those shorter sentences are easier to read. I agree with OP that shorter is not alwaysbetter; “caress the detail, the divine detail.”

    Five Rules of Writing (not advice; merely discovered)

    1a. Write clearly.
    1b. That’s it: long words or short; this style or that. Doesn’t matter.

    2a. Do NOT kill your darlings.
    2b. The whole thing is your darling; kill (cut) what’s unnecessary.

    3a. Write what you know, but. . .
    3b. . . .remember always: you can learn to know anything.

    4a. Trust yourself.
    4b. Doubt is good. It pushes you. Doubt gives you resolve. Each time you overcome doubt is one more victory that feeds back into the truth of trusting yourself.

    5a. Be yourself.
    5b. Art is an individual expression. If you try to be like anyone else you won’t be an artist because you won’t be yourself.

    And after all this, the only rule of advice to follow? Don’t listen to anyone’s advice.

    [If the html didn’t work…my b-a-a-a-d]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s