From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search


In "Politics and the English Language," George Orwell provides six rules:

  • Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
  • Never use a long word where a short one will do.
  • If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
  • Never use the passive voice where you can use the active.
  • Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
  • Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.

Clive James in "Even As We Speak" advises that "...any kind of sentence, at any level of ambition, should obey the rule of never needing to be read again to get the sense. If it can obey that rule - which is the rule of speech - then it is more likely to be read again to get more of its meaning..."

Other rules are:

  • Change all the qualifiers ("fundamentally", "significantly" and so on) to the word "very". Then remove all the "very"s. If you get the same sense from the sentence, leave them out.
  • Say the sentence aloud. If you can't do it in one breath, split it into two sentences.
  • The phrases "it is important to note that", "note that", and "reportedly" can usually be removed without changing the meaning.
  • "almost always" -> "usually"