writing_tips

When “Start to” and “Decide to” Creep into Your Writing

by Barbara McNichol

Do you have a habit of starting a sentence with the word “start” or “begin”? In a 5,000-word document I recently edited, those two words appeared 14 times, while only five were deemed necessary to the meaning. That’s a lot of extra words!

To be more direct in your writing, skip the “start/begin” part and employ the phrase Nike made famous: Just do it!

These examples show how you can write a stronger statement by going straight to the action verb rather than “beginning” to go for it.

Example 1: Slowly begin to approach your teammate with your idea.

Better: Slowly approach your teammate with your idea.

Example 2: Start to make an agenda for the meeting.

Better: Make an agenda for the meeting.

Whenever you write “start to” or “begin to,” question it. Ask: Is “start” or “begin” essential to the meaning of the sentence? Chances are you can glide straight to the action verb without it!

Similarly, watch out for “decide to” in your writing. Which verb carries more weight in this example sentence, “decide” or “launch”?

Example: The president decided to launch the company’s implementation strategy next month.

Better: The president will launch the company’s implementation strategy next month.

Do you see how “decide” doesn’t add meaning while “launch” is vital to the message? When you catch yourself writing “decide,” ask: Is it needed?

Make crisp, clear messages your goal with everything you write.

Barbara McNichol is passionate about helping administration professionals add power to their pen. To assist in this mission, she has created a Word Trippers Tips resource so you can quickly find the right word when it matters most. It allows you to improve your writing through excellent weekly resources in your inbox, including a Word Tripper of the Week for 52 weeks. Details at www.wordtrippers.com/odi

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