Using Plain English

Using Plain English
what-language-is-he-speakingToo often, bureaucrats use terminology in their presentations and reports that are unnecessarily confusing or hard to understand. The result is that many undesirable government actions face less public opposition because citizens are unable to understand the implications of the proposal. Many believe that this lack of using “Plain English” is a deliberate form of obfuscation, as it gives bureaucrats more power (citizens must rely on the bureaucrat to explain the communication), or protects the bureaucrat from criticism (because citizens are unaware of the implications of the proposal). In a democracy, government must be as transparent as possible, which means that communications from government must strive to use as much plain, simple language as possible.

The following provides examples.

The phrase on the left contains a lot of useless deadwood that we commonly see. Following it is a more succinct, understandable use of words.

a majority of – most

a sufficient amount of — enough

according to our data — we find

accordingly — therefore, so

after the conclusion of — after

along the lines of — like

as is the case — as is true

ascertain the location of — find

at such time as — when

at the present time — now

at this point in time — now

be deficient in — lack

be in a position to — can, be able

by a factor of two — two times, double, twice

by means of — by

come to a conclusion — conclude

despite the fact that — although

due to the fact that — because

during the time that — while

equally as well — as well, equally well

fewer in number — fewer

for the purpose of — to, for

for the reason that — because

for this reason — thus, therefore

give consideration to — consider, examine

give indication of — show, indicate, suggest

happen(s) to be — am/is/are

has been proved to be — is

if conditions are such that — if

in a number of — several, many

in all cases — always

in case — if

in close proximity to — near

in excess of — more than

in large measure — largely

in many cases — often

in most cases — usually

in no case — never

in order that — so that

in order to — to

in some cases — sometimes

in terms of — in

in the amount of — for

in the case of — for

in the event that — if

in the field of — in

in the near future — soon

in the neighborhood of — near, about, nearly

in the vicinity of — near

in this case — here

in view of the fact that — because, since

is capable of — can

is found to be — is

is in a position to — can

it has been found that — (nothing)

it has long been known that — (nothing)

it is a fact that — (nothing)

it is evident that — (nothing)

it is interesting to note that — note that

it is noted that — (nothing)

it is our opinion that — we think

it is possible that — perhaps

it is well known that — (nothing)

it may be said that — (nothing)

make inquiry regarding — ask about, inquire about

manner in which — how

not with standing the fact that — although

on the basis of — from, because, by

on the order of — about, approximately

present in greater abundance — more abundant

prior to — before

provided that — if

put an end to — end

reach a conclusion — conclude

serves the function of being — is

subsequent to — after

the question as to — whether

there can be little doubt that — probably

utilize or utilization — use

with reference to — about

with the exception that — except that

 

Another kind of deadwood is needless repetition of the same sense in different words. Phrases like the following are easily cut in half:

 

adequate enough — adequate (or enough)

advance planning — planning

appear(s) to be — appear(s)

basic essentials — basics (or essentials)

close proximity — proximity

consensus of opinion — consensus

cooperated together — cooperated

definite decision — decision

elongate in length — elongate

first priority — priority

future predictions — predictions

general rule — rule

green colored — green

increase in increments — increase

initial prototype (model) — prototype

joint cooperation — cooperation

major breakthrough — breakthrough

modern science of today — modern science

most optimum — optimum

necessary requirement — requirement

outside periphery — periphery

rate of speed — speed

resemble in appearance — resemble

true facts — facts

twelve in number — twelve

usual rule — rule

very unique — unique

 

Difficult —- Simple

Administer —- manage

allocate —- give, divide

deem —- consider

enter (on a form) —- write

for the duration of —- during

herein —- here

heretofore —- until now

implement —- carry out

indicate —- show

in the event that —- if

mode —- form of travel

on behalf of —-for

procure —- get

promulgate —- make, issue

pursuant to —- under

render —- make, give

represents —- is

said, same, such —- the, this, that

submit —- Send

subsequent to —- After

to the extent that —- if, when

utilize —- Use

with regard to/respect to —- For

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One response to “Using Plain English

  1. Pingback: A Call to Arms for Dramatically Improved Public Health and Safety | Dom's Plan B Blog

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