Identifying Ditches, Detours, and Road Blocks

You can drive a reader down a side alley or into a ditch when you use pronouns carelessly. And sometimes just using pronouns at all creates a roadblock, making the reader reverse direction.

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Who was confused – Charlotte or Kate? You know what you meant by "she", but your reader won't.

Rewrite the sentence in the box above to make it clear that the testator, Kate O'Hara, was confused and not the witness, Charlotte Dean.

Option 1:  Charlotte Dean, a witness to Kate O'Hara's will, said Ms. O'Hara was confused by the lawyer's explanation of the bequests.  

Option 2: According to the witness to the will, Charlotte Dean, Kate O'Hara was confused by the lawyer's explanation of the bequests.

Demonstrative pronouns, " this, that, these, and those ", can create roadblocks causing the reader to stop to figure out how to go forward.  Here is an example where "this" leaves a young lawyer pondering which problem the senior lawyer wants fixed.

 

Rewrite the paragraph so that the young lawyer knows whether to (1) streamline the evidence, (2) devise a strategy to help the jury connect each witnesses' testimony to the evidence, or (3) do both.

1. Steamline the Evidence: The amount of technical evidence that needs to be introduced to prove the defendant's negligence is enormous, and the evidence needs to be introduced through different documents and testimony by each witness. The volume of evidence will make it difficult for the jury to understand it all.

2.Devise a strategy:  The amount of technical evidence that needs to be introduced to prove the defendant's negligence is enormous, and the evidence needs to be introduced through different documents and testimony by each witness. Unless we connect each witness's testimony to our claim of negligence, it will be difficult for the jury to understand it all.

3. Streamline the Evidence and Devise a Strategy:  The amount of technical evidence that needs to be introduced to prove the defendant's negligence is enormous, and the evidence needs to be introduced through different documents and testimony by each witness. We need a comprehensive strategy to help the jury understand it all.

The key is to make sure every pronoun connects clearly to a noun or specific idea.

Identifying Detours and Roadblocks

Identify the detours and roadblocks created in these instructions from a senior lawyer to her junior. Highlight in yellow the pronouns that create confusion. Highlight in green the pronouns that connect well. If you change your mind, use the white eraser.

"We will need to make a claim on behalf of our clients to the Refugee Determination Tribunal. It will depend on our ability to bring evidence of the key elements of the clients' claim and to convince them of the credibility of our clients and their witnesses under ss. 127 and 129 of the Refugee Act. Those sections of the Act empower them to make findings of fact.

We will argue that the clients were persecuted in their country of origin, and they face certain death or significant harm should they be returned. That argument will likely be successful based on the evidence we have to present to them.

This issue arose in an earlier case and I would like you to look into the file. Please review the recent cases from the Supreme Court. And please have a look at any of the recent decisions from the Tribunal. These cases are the best support for our position."

View our highlighted pronouns and read why we recommend substituting nouns or noun phrases for some of them.

We will need to make a claim on behalf of our clients to the Refugee Determination Tribunal. It will depend on our ability to bring evidence of the key elements of the clients' claim and to convince them of the credibility of our clients and their witnesses under ss. 127 and 129 of the Refugee Act. Those sections of the Act empower them to make findings of fact.

We will argue that the clients were persecuted in their country of origin, and they face certain death or significant harm should they be returned. That argument will likely be successful based on the evidence we have to present to them.

This issue arose in an earlier case and I would like you to look into the file. Please review the recent cases from the Supreme Court. And please have a look at any of the recent decisions from the Tribunal. These cases are the best support for our position.