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Get to the Point

Making and Using Too Many Words

By Theda C. Snyder

Do you make a decision before using litigation? Or do you just decide to litigate?

“Make” and “use” are prime targets for revision as you edit your professional writing. These are transitive verbs. You’re going to make something, use something. The verbs take a direct object. In contrast, intransitive verbs (like the proverbial cheese) can stand alone. Just to be confusing, some verbs can be both.

Here are some examples:

  • “When the witness arrived [intransitive], the suspect ran [intransitive].”
  • “The partners ran the business [transitive].”
  • ”I wanted a raise [transitive], but the managing partner laughed [intransitive].”

As you edit your work product, pay special attention to instances where a stronger verb could replace a verb and its direct object. Besides being less persuasive, weak verbs plus explanatory words lengthen your writing [not “make your writing longer”]. “Mediating” a case is good; “using mediation” is wordy.

First Drafts Are Just That — Drafts

When you review your work before hitting Send or otherwise finalizing, pay attention to whether you can use strong verbs instead of “make” and “use.”

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Categories: Communications Skills, Daily Dispatch, Get to the Point, Legal Writing
Originally published April 11, 2018
Last updated January 13, 2019
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Teddy Snyder Theda C. Snyder

Theda “Teddy” Snyder mediates civil disputes, workers’ compensation and insurance coverage cases, including COVID-19 related coverage disputes, in person or by video. Teddy has practiced in a variety of settings and frequently speaks and writes about settlements and the business of law. She was a Fellow of the College of Law Practice Management and is the author of four ABA books, including “Women Rainmakers’ Best Marketing Tips, 4th Edition” as well as “Personal Injury Case Evaluation” available on Based in Los Angeles, Teddy can be found at and on Twitter @SnyderMediation.

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