Is the message truly the same here?

Learning Goal: I’m working on a english writing question and need a sample draft to help me learn.Most of us would agree that we shouldn’t use expletives in professional writing; cussing is undignified, right? Well, those aren’t the $#%&ing expletives we’re talking about in this case.In grammatical terms, an expletive is an “empty word or phrase”–a word or phrase devoid of content–that’s part of a sentence only to reshape the structure of our sentence for some reason. An expletive word or phrase doesn’t add content, but it’s needed to make the sentence’s syntax work.Writers might want to reshape their sentences for a variety of very good reasons–for example, because they want to end-weight their sentence (shifting a more complex or more important sentence element to the end, which is a stronger position). Or, they might want to de-emphasize an element of their claim for some rhetorical purpose–for instance:to diminish responsibility:”Mistakes were made.”
“I made a mistake.”
to shift emphasis from the sentence’s subject to its object:”Chlorine was mixed into the test sample.”
“The test sample was mixed with chlorine.”
When we speak extemporaneously (including in our everyday conversations), we frequently use grammatical structures that defer content toward the end of our sentences for the simple reason that we’re still formulating our ideas as we’re speaking them! So, many conversational sentence patterns open with less substantive words or phrases, then move toward more specificity, more impact, or more “content.” Even the most effective writers also often use this approach when writing initial drafts or brainstorming. (The biggest difference between the most effective and less effective writers is that the former revise carefully whereas the latter don’t.)Expletive constructions to look for in your writingThough lots of words and phrases can function as expletive elements in sentences, the most prominent set of phrases performing this function in most writing are these four related constructions:there is…that
there are…that
it is…that
it [verb or verb phrase]…that
Previous writing instructors might simply have told you to eliminate “there is/there are” from your writing. That’s a bit extreme. These structures aren’t usually incorrect–they’re just wordy and (often) bland. As a result, they fail to fulfill several of the “Seven Cs.” Most notably, expletive structures make sentences less concise and more complex.As a practical matter, you should look for instances of these phrases in your writing. When you find them one, consider whether it serves an important purpose in that sentence. Sometimes it will, and you might decide to keep it. At least you’ve made the deliberate, informed choice.More often, an expletive construction will just seem harmless: not helpful, but not terrible either. In those cases, test your sentence by eliminating the expletive. If the revised sentence is just as strong content-wise, still emphasizes the part you want emphasized, and is shorter and simpler, then use the revised sentence. (By the way, that’ll be most of the time!It’s pretty rare for the expletive form to be more concise, clearer, and more impactful than its non-expletive revision.)Here’s how to eliminate most expletives from your sentences:Delete the excess words: “there is/are” or “it is/was” AND the “that” (if it’s present).
Sometimes, a sentence won’t include the word “that.” It might instead contain a different subordinating conjunction (where or who or which).Or the that could be tacit (omitted but implied–see the example below, where I’ve [bracketed] the word to indicate that it could be stated or unstated).
If necessary, reorganize the sentence into the traditional subject-verb-object structure. (Sometimes, that means inverting the order of sentence elements.)
Here are a few examples of these expletive constructions used in sentences, plus revisions of each: there is…that There is nothing [that] I can do.
I can do nothing.
there are…[that] There are four steps that the new employee ought to remember.
The new employee ought to remember four steps.
There are seven weeks left in the semester.
Seven weeks are left in the semester.
it is…thatIt is the company that should come first.
The company should come first.
it [verb or verb phrase]…that Roger noted that the fuel line was fouled.
The fuel line was fouled. [But consider: Is the message truly the same here?]
It should be remembered thatthe consumer expects the best possible product.
Remember that the consumer expects the best possible product. [Consider how this example differs from the previous examples. Does it still qualify as a removed expletive?]
In this week’s quiz, I’m asking you to find and eliminate the expletive elements without otherwise changing the sentence. In other words: find the non-expletive sentence structure that most faithfully retains the original message.Sometimes, even more concise versions of a similar but not quite the same message are possible. For example, the following revisions might seem like good examples of an expletive being removed. However, if you read them carefully, you’ll see that each sentence is actually stating something different.I decided that I should tell her the truth.I should tell her the truth.
I decided to tell her the truth.
So, as you’re revising to eliminate expletives, listen for those subtle differences, and do your best to retain content and only alter sentence structure or non-content elements.
Requirements: N/a

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