A prepositional idiom is a phrase that can be condensed to one word or eliminated from the sentence. One of the most common problems in poor writing is prepositional idioms. The best way to define this writing issue is to give some examples. The following examples are common prepositional idioms I see in writing project descriptions, approaches, cover letters, etc.
Prepositional Idioms That Begin with a Preposition
In order to, In a timely manner, From day to day, Above all else, For this purposeLook for prepositional idioms like these and replace them with one word or delete them. For example, you can change the following sentence, “We will consider safety in design concepts above all else,” to “We will consider safety in design concepts first.”
One of the most common prepositional idioms I discover has to do with identifying that we are discussing the project. We often use idioms such as for the project, of the project, throughout the project, for this project. Most of the time, these can be eliminated. Consider the following examples.
Example for Condensing a Prepositional Idiom
“Our quality control and assurance measures are executed at every step throughout the project.”
“Our quality control and assurance measures are executed at every milestone.”
Example for Eliminating a Prepositional Idiom“After our scoping meeting, the design team will draft a final scope of work for the project.”
“After our scoping meeting, the design team will draft a final scope of work.”
The reader already knows you are discussing their project. There is no need to qualify your action as being “of the project” or “for the project” when the entire document is already discussing their project.
Watch for prepositional idioms in your writing and challenge yourself to condense or eliminate them for better writing.
Gabe Lett, FSMPS, CPSM, LPC