Award-Winning Words

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Beginning with this post, from time to time we’ll look at winning words that may not be fully appreciated. See if you can read my mind to come up with a basic yet invaluable word that improves both of the following.

1. (Not initially clear.) Since Kim’s family bought a summer home on the lake, we ought to see if she’ll host our mini-reunion there.

2. (Could be smoother.) Apex’s stock price has fared well even in times as difficult as the Great Recession. Its services are not closely linked to economic shifts. 

And the winner is …

Although neither example contains an error, we can slightly refine each with “because” at the beginning – a word many of us hesitate to use there. Why? Apparently, some of us remember, or think we remember, a teacher telling us not to do that. Well, maybe, but that instruction might have occurred because in third grade we didn’t always recognize sentence fragments, and we wrote something like this: “Because our dog ate my homework.” That came back with a red circle around it.

But now that we’re more mature writers – who instinctively know a complete sentence from a fragment – we’re missing out by rejecting “because” as a sentence starter. See if you agree.

1. Since Kim’s family bought a summer home on the lake, we ought to see if she’ll host our mini-reunion there. Yes, “since” can sub for “because,” but here that backfires because the reader probably thinks we are using “since” to set up a “before and after,” such as: Since Kim’s family bought a summer home on the lake, I have played tennis with her only twice. Then, in mid-sentence, our reader realizes we were going in a different direction. Using “Because” instead of “Since” would have avoided the momentary misreading.

2. Apex’s stock price has fared well even in times as difficult as the Great Recession. Its services are not closely linked to economic shifts. This is fine, but a “because” would help fuse these two thoughts further, and in this case leading with “because” is effective: Because Apex’s services are not closely linked to economic shifts, its stock price has fared well even in times as difficult as the Great Recession. 

Leading with the reason for something can add variety to our sentence structure and often enhance comprehension and impact. We orient the reader with the “because part” and complete our thought with the “therefore part.”

You can go to http://www.normfriedman.com/index.shtml to learn more about my workshops on writing in the workplace, individual coaching, editing, and handbook – 100+ Instant Writing Tips. Thank you.

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