Are You Writing Too Many Negatives Into Your Sentences?
by Robbie Hyman |
You’ve probably read news articles that started like this:
The Supreme Court today overturned a lower-court ruling that held unconstitutional a law ending the ban on trans-fats in restaurant food.
What a mess. Few readers will understand after reading that sentence whether the Court ruled in favor of trans-fats or against them. I’m still not sure exactly what the statement says—and I wrote it!
You actually have to map out a sentence like this, starting from the end. First, a law banned trans-fats in restaurants. Then another law ended that ban. Then a higher court undid that law. And on and on.
Don’t do this to your reader.
Some work-related documents are written this way:
HR is ending the practice of allowing department heads to stop project leaders from approving comp time for employees working unpaid overtime.
Re-word the statement to make it clear:
Several department heads have overturned comp time for employees who work unpaid overtime. HR is ending this practice and starting a new policy that grants project leaders the authority to approve comp time for their employees who work unpaid overtime.
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