Thursday, November 2, 2017
Mind Your Ands
We are always told to mind our Ps and Qs, but what about our ands? Shouldn’t we also be minding those as well?
It sure seems like many of today’s writers and content creators set out to cram every possible thought into a single paragraph-length sentence. But, this can easily confuse readers and force them to reread sentences over and over to determine which of the writer’s thoughts are joined by which and.
Why do they force so many words into each sentence? I was recently reading a report that got me thinking about this subject when I came across a sentence very similar to the one below:
We reviewed the infrastructure and networks that made up the wireless guest networks and the filtering and segmentation between the wireless guest networks and the wired corporate network and the encryption and authentication in use on both networks.
Look at all those ands in one sentence! Six ands!
When you are writing, be sure to count the number of times you use ‘and’ in each sentence. You should rarely have more than one or two, though in the right context, three ands can still make sense. But, once you approach the fourth, fifth, sixth (or even more) and in a single sentence, it is time to split that sentence up into multiple sentences and perhaps use some other conjunction or phrase.
As an example, see what I have done to our ‘six-and’ sentence example:
We reviewed the infrastructure and networks that made up the wireless guest networks, as well as the filtering and segmentation between the wireless guest networks and the wired corporate network. We also reviewed the encryption and authentication in use on both networks.
You can see by changing one of the ands to ‘as well as’, and splitting the sentence into two sentences, I’ve essentially removed two of the ands. Also, neither sentence has more than three ands. The paragraph is now much easier to read.
So, when you are writing, please remember to limit the use of ‘and’ to no more than three instances per sentence. Your readers will thank you!
Graphic by William L. Savastano