Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Windy word: "Expected"

How many times do we hear something like this?

"Governor Smith is expected to announce a new health-care plan this week."

"Expected" used this way is a passive construction, and the worst kind at that -- because it doesn't say who is doing the expecting. It's sort of like the proverbial government official who says "mistakes were made" without saying who made them.

The tendency is to resort to "expected" this way when (using the example above) somebody inside the governor's office has given the AP a heads-up that an announcement is in the works, but it's not been formally scheduled. Suggested remedy:

"Governor Smith will likely announce a new health-care plan this week."

This way the verb in the sentence is no longer "is" but rather "announce." Or:

"Governor Smith is making plans to overhaul health care."

The verb here is "make" and the sentence ends with a key thought -- "health care." The part about a likely announcement this week can come in the next sentence.

Bag "expected." Expect better of yourself and your copy.

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