Two Words That Almost Always Are a Stop Sign for the Reader

Yesterday’s post, “Go a week without writing any of these words and you will be a considerably better writer,” lists a dozen words that add little or nothing to good writing. Even worse are the pair of words former and latter—they almost always are a stop sign for the reader. An example:

During a lively Fox News discussion with Bud Abbot and Lou Costello over the Mueller Report and the possibility of President Trump’s impeachment, Fox News hosts Tucker Carlson and Donna Brazile agreed that the former was more qualified to discuss national politics than the latter.

Most readers will have to stop and go back to understand that Carlson and Brazile agree that Abbot and not Costello is the one more qualified to discuss national politics.

Repeating the names is almost always easier for the reader than deciphering former and latter.

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