ELIMINATING UNNECESSARY IF/THEN STATEMENTS
One popular way to complicate a simple expression is to add unnamed people and place them into a confusing and unnecessary cause/effect situation. Readers can be misled into thinking the identities of the players in these dramas are important. In addition, the characters introduce gender and number problems where they don’t belong.
Here’s the simple sentence that does not require an if/then or any anonymous actors:
Teenage drivers are being ticketed for speeding proportionally more often than other drivers.
The Hard Way:
If the driver looks as if he or she might be a teenager, then he or she is more likely to be pulled over and given a ticket for speeding by an officer who thinks he or she might be a youthful driver.
In addition to unnecessarily complicating our simple idea, this sentence is also massively overpopulated with at least one female teenage driver and one male, plus an opinionated officer.
A Valid Objection:
You may say that the new sentence introduces a fresh and useful piece of information about the prejudice of certain traffic officers, and I agree. But the solution is not to place everybody into if/then mayhem.
Instead, if you want to feature the drivers:
Easy way #1:
Teenage drivers are ticketed for speeding by opinionated traffic officers proportionally more often than other drivers.
Easy way #2:
Teenage drivers are victimized by opinionated traffic officers who give them proportionally more speeding tickets than they give other drivers.
Or, if you think the focus of your sentence now features the traffic officers:
Easy way #3:
Opinionated traffic officers ticket teenage drivers for speeding far more often than they do other drivers.
EXAMPLES FROM REAL LIFE
- If/then problems: My writing was based on who my audience was and what kind of paper I was writing for. For instance, if my writing was for an editorial, then of course personality was not implemented into its tone. However, if I was writing a Letter to the Editor then tone is instrumental when it comes to establishing my point; it becomes necessary.
- Correction for 1: I used a personal tone for appropriate audiences. For instance, I kept my personality out of my editorial writing, but used it to establish tone in my Letter to the Editor.
- If/then problems: Creating and shaping ideas are great ways to add uniqueness and purpose to one’s writing, but that’s only the case if his or her writing is inherently good.
- Correction for 3: Good writers create and shape unique ideas.
- If/then problems: I learned it was much easier to keep my purpose known throughout my writing, as well as the reasoning behind it. Even if it was not necessarily what I agreed with personally, I realized it was vital for my attitude on the paper to be one the audience can familiarize with.
- Correction for 5: I learned to defend even positions I personally reject by using clear and obvious reasoning throughout my writing.
Rephrase each of the numbered sentences below to eliminate the unnecessary if/then constructions and the needless cast of characters. As above, the solution to the problem is often to name the category of person who acts out the behavior:
- youthful drivers instead of drivers who look as if they might be teenagers, or
- prejudiced officers instead of cops who think that teenagers are more likely to violate the law.
- Do your work in the Reply field below this post.
- Number your sentences to match the examples.
- If you do two versions to feature different agents, use 1A and 1B, for example.
- Finish what you can before the end of class.
- Complete the exercise before class THU JAN 31.
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