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August 2012 Volume 8 Issue 8

The Write Stuff

August 2012  Volume 8 Issue 8

Singular Versus Plural

When I’m in editor mode, in addition to correcting mistakes and focusing on tone, message, and flow, I aim to make copy more compelling. My clients are often surprised how much better their own words read after some minor tweaks.

 

I find myself frequently modifying singular references to make them plural, and thus more “global.” I think you’ll see what I mean in the following examples:

 

Original: A food company isn’t required to…

Better: Food companies aren’t required to…

 

Original: The user of our system…

Better: Users of our system…

 

Original: Athletes dying of a heart attack…

Better: Athletes dying of heart attacks…

 

In the first set of phrases, changing “company” to “companies” and making the necessary verb update broadens the focus; this isn’t really referring to just one company, is it?

 

In the second set of phrases, the change is even easier, merely deleting “the” and making “user” plural. Doesn’t this revision evoke a better feeling…that many people use the system, not just one?

 

The third set of phrases is a bit different, since “athletes” was plural in the original, but “heart attack” was not. By deleting “a” and adding an “s” to the end of “heart attack,” the phrase is made more consistent; multiple athletes won’t be dying of one heart attack, will they?

 

Your writing is always going to have more power if you think plural. After all, you’re probably not seeking “a client,” but “clients,” and you likely offer “products” or “services,” not “a product” or “a service.”

 

 

Do you know businesses that could benefit from my writing or editing expertise? I’ll treat your referrals like gold and you’ll be viewed as a superstar for making the introduction.

 

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