Skills exercise in academic writing: Rewrite the following sentences to eliminate the use of second-person pronouns, expletives, and contractions.

  • To make matters worse, there are several vicious cycles that facilitate the continued trend of opioid abuse.
  • The report states that there are numerous ethical concerns raised by the practice of euthanasia.
  • He wants to know if there is life on other planets.
  • It is important to know the difference between right and wrong.
  • Before we can vote, it is necessary to have a majority of the members present.
  • We’ve received some unfortunate news and won’t be able to attend the party.
  • Even though they’d said they weren’t coming, they made a brief appearance.
  • Her words indicated that she’d already made up her mind, but her comments didn’t deter him from trying to convince her to donate.
  • To some people, Joanne’s appearance is bizarre, since her hair is pink and partially shaved, and she’s covered in tattoos.
  • I couldn’t find my car keys, so I’d arrived too late to have breakfast before the meeting.
  • You should go to the gym at least twice a week.
  • To be safe, you should frequently change your Internet passwords.
  • The American dream implies that if you work hard, you will be successful.
  • If you use precise language, your reader will be able to better understand what you intend to say.
  • When you drive from Anchorage to Fairbanks in winter, you must allow extra time for the trip.
  • Rewrite the following paragraph to eliminate the use of second-person pronouns, expletives, and contractions.

    There are several steps necessary to prepare for a job interview. You must double check the time and location of the interview. It is impossible to get the job if you miss the interview, and if you’re late to the interview, you won’t make a favorable first impression. Before the interview, it is a good idea to do some research about the company. It is easy to find information using the Internet. It can also be helpful to have a friend or family member do a practice interview to prepare you for the real interview. A practice interview could help you feel more confident and less nervous. You should also construct several thoughtful questions to ask the interviewer. If you don’t have questions, the interviewer might think you’re not really interested in the job.

    Expert Answers

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    You and your are second-person pronouns that address the reader directly; usually, they should not be used in academic writing. For example, you might change "You should not use second-person pronouns in academic writing" to either of the following:

    Second person pronouns should not be used in academic writing.

    One should not use second-person pronouns in academic writing.

    In the assignment, eliminate you and your references so that the sentences do not address the reader directly.

    An expletive is a word or phrase that does not add to the sense or meaning of the sentence, or a word or phrase that is vulgar or treats sacred things with disrespect. In academic writing, you'll want to eliminate these words and phrases. In the assignment, by reading each sentence carefully and even aloud, you will notice the extra words and phrases that can be eliminated without taking away from the sentence’s meaning. Revise the sentence to make it a direct statement with no extra meaningless words or phrases. Look at the first one:

    To make matters worse, there are several vicious cycles that facilitate the continued trend of opioid abuse.

    In fewer words, the meaning of the sentence is "several vicious cycles facilitate continued opioid abuse." The word vicious makes To make matters worse unnecessary. Eliminating there are and making several vicious cycles the complete subject of the sentence creates a more direct statement. Eliminate that to make facilitate the main verb of the sentence. Finally, read the new sentence aloud to be sure it is a complete sentence.

    Contractions are shortened forms phrases that omit one or more letters in combining the words. Most contractions are shortened forms of a pronoun and a form of the verb to be. Note that an apostrophe is used to indicate that one or more letters are omitted in that space. For example, he’s is a contraction for he is, where the i in is is eliminated. A list of contractions may be found in any grammar book or on any grammar site. Here’s a list of the most common.

    I am = I’m; I have = I’ve
    we are = we’re; we have = we’ve; we will = we’ll
    you are = you’re; you have = you’ve; you will = you’ll
    he is = he’s; he will = he’ll
    she is = she’s; she will = she’ll
    it is = it’s; it will = it’ll
    they are = they’re; they have = they’ve; they will = they’ll

    Contractions may also be shortened forms of a verb and the word not. To create a contraction with a verb and not, omit the o in not. For example, don’t is a contraction for do not, where the o in not is eliminated. In the assignment, find any words with an apostrophe and replace that contraction with the complete form of the two words. Change I’m to I am, we’re to we are, and so on.

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