Real Words that Work - When two words beat four

By Patricia Davies, President, Patricia Davies Communications  
When two words beat four

I recently wrote an invitation for a volunteer event I was helping to organize. My draft included this construction: “We welcome…” Somewhere in the mix between me and the sent product an anonymous editor changed the phrase to “We are welcoming of…”

Evidently, the changer decided people would feel more welcome when invited with four words rather than two.


I offer this quote from The Elements of Style, still one of the most celebrated and readable guides to writing (10 million copies sold in the last 50 years). 

Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts.” 


Strip out the non-essentials and go back to the original. “We welcome…” The guests will still come. 

Punctuation Tip

In response to reader requests, this column will occasionally include hints on punctuation. 
  • Use a colon to introduce a list.
    • The speaker asked for three items: a microphone, flip chart and markers. 
  • A colon can also be used for emphasis.
    • We were all impressed: the speaker was charismatic. 
Patricia Davies is an award-winning writer and editor, an Endorsed Education Provider (EEP) with IIBA®, and a regular panelist on the IIBA “Being a BA: Effective Communication” Webinar (first Tuesday of every month). Do you have a writing question? Please email to and we’ll try to address it in a future column or Webinar.