What is The Grammatical Expletive? 6 Reasons For Avoiding It

The Grammatical Expletive, also known as the dummy subject or dummy it, is a linguistic construct that functions as a placeholder subject in a sentence. It is commonly used in English to fulfill syntactic requirements but lacks any semantic meaning. The Grammatical Expletive is typically formed by using the pronoun “it” along with a form of the verb “to be,” such as “is,” “was,” or “were.” However, it is important to note that this construct should be used sparingly and avoided whenever possible. Here are six reasons for avoiding the use of The Grammatical Expletive:

1. Clarity: The use of The Grammatical Expletive can often lead to ambiguity and confusion in a sentence.

2. Active Voice: By avoiding The Grammatical Expletive, one can write in a more active voice, enhancing the clarity and engagement of the text.

3. Conciseness: Eliminating The Grammatical Expletive allows for more concise and direct writing, improving the overall flow and efficiency of the sentence.

4. Brevity: The use of The Grammatical Expletive often leads to unnecessary wordiness, which can dilute the impact and effectiveness of the sentence.

5. Specificity: Removing The Grammatical Expletive forces the writer to identify and provide a more precise subject for the sentence, resulting in more informative and targeted writing.

6. Active Verbs: Replacing The Grammatical Expletive with active verbs creates a more dynamic and engaging narrative, enhancing the reader’s experience.

What is an Expletive Sentence?

An expletive sentence, also known as a grammatical expletive, is a sentence structure that includes a dummy subject or an introductory word that adds no meaning to the sentence. These expletives are commonly used to start a sentence with the pronouns “it” or “there” when the true subject of the sentence comes later. While they may seem harmless, there are several reasons why it is best to avoid using them in writing. Let’s explore six key reasons for steering clear of expletive sentences.

1. Avoid weak and indecisive language: The use of expletive sentences can often result in vague or ambiguous language. Starting a sentence with “it is” or “there are” can leave readers wondering what exactly the sentence is trying to convey. By eliminating expletives, you can make your writing more direct, clear, and concise.

2. Enhance sentence structure: Expletive sentences tend to be structurally weak. Instead of starting a sentence with a placeholder subject, consider reorganizing the sentence to place the true subject at the beginning. This not only strengthens the sentence structure but also improves the flow and readability of your writing.

3. Improve active voice: Expletive sentences often lead to passive voice constructions, which can make writing less engaging. Passive voice sentences can obscure the subject and make your writing sound less dynamic. By removing expletive sentences, you can increase the use of active voice, resulting in more direct and powerful writing.

4. Eliminate unnecessary words: Expletive sentences often add extra words that contribute little to the overall meaning. Removing these unnecessary words can make your writing more concise and impactful. Instead of starting a sentence with “it is important to note” or “there is evidence that,” consider directly stating the key point to capture readers’ attention and maintain their interest.

5. Enhance readability and understanding: Expletive sentences can sometimes confuse readers, leading to misunderstandings or misinterpretations. By avoiding expletives, you can create sentences that are easier to comprehend, ensuring your message is clear and understood by your audience.

6. Display confidence and expertise: By eliminating expletive sentences, you demonstrate a mastery of language and writing skills. It showcases your ability to construct clear and concise sentences, which can enhance your credibility as a writer. Removing expletives from your writing helps you come across as knowledgeable and authoritative.

How To Avoid The Grammatical Expletive Sentence

The grammatical expletive, also known as a dummy pronoun or empty subject, is a common issue that can weaken writing and hinder clarity. It refers to the use of impersonal pronouns like “it” or “there” at the beginning of a sentence when they serve no real purpose. To improve your writing and enhance its effectiveness, here are six reasons why you should avoid using the grammatical expletive:

1. Lack of clarity: When a sentence begins with a grammatical expletive, it often obscures the actual subject of the sentence. This can confuse readers and lead to misinterpretation. For example, consider the sentence “There are many reasons why people enjoy traveling.” The real subject of the sentence, “reasons,” is hidden behind the grammatical expletive “there,” making the sentence less clear. Instead, rephrasing the sentence to “People enjoy traveling for many reasons” eliminates the expletive and improves clarity.

2. Passive voice: The grammatical expletive is often associated with passive voice constructions. Using passive voice can make writing sound distant, vague, and less engaging. By avoiding the grammatical expletive, you encourage the use of active voice, which makes writing more dynamic and direct. Active voice also allows for clearer identification of the subject and the action within a sentence, creating strong and compelling prose.

3. Wordiness: The use of the grammatical expletive often leads to unnecessary wordiness. Starting a sentence with “it is” or “there are” can obscure the main idea and unnecessarily lengthen the sentence. By eliminating these expletives, you can make your writing more concise and impactful. Consider the sentence “It is important to exercise regularly” versus “Regular exercise is important.” The latter sentence eliminates the expletive and conveys the message more efficiently.

4. Lack of specificity: Grammatical expletives can sometimes lead to vague and generic language. Starting a sentence with “it” or “there” without a clear referent can dilute the impact of your writing. By being more specific and direct, you can engage readers with concrete details and create a stronger connection. For instance, instead of saying “It is said that exercise is beneficial,” you can say “Doctors and researchers agree that exercise provides numerous health benefits.”

5. Increased formality: Grammatical expletives can contribute to a more formal tone in writing. While formality may be appropriate in certain contexts, it can also distance the reader and create a barrier to understanding. By removing expletives and adopting a more conversational tone, you can create a stronger connection with your audience and make your writing more relatable.

6. Enhanced readability: Writing without grammatical expletives generally leads to increased readability. By removing unnecessary introductory phrases, you allow readers to grasp the main point of your sentence more quickly. This helps to maintain their interest and ensures that your message is delivered effectively. Clear and concise writing can be achieved by rephrasing sentences properly, focusing on the main subject, and avoiding unnecessary word clutter.

Six Reasons for Revising Expletive Sentences

Expletive sentences, also known as “dummy subjects” or “empty subjects,” are grammatical constructions commonly used in English. They typically start with “it” or “there” followed by a verb. However, despite their common usage, there are several compelling reasons to avoid or revise expletive sentences. Let’s explore six key reasons why it is beneficial to revise these sentences.

1. **Enhances Clarity**: Expletive sentences often introduce unnecessary complexity and confusion. By revising them, we can improve the clarity of our writing. For example, consider the sentence: “It is raining today.” Instead, we can simply state “Rain is falling today,” which is more direct and concise.

2. **Increases Sentence Variety**: Overreliance on expletive subjects can lead to monotonous writing. By revising these sentences, we can introduce sentence variety and make our writing more engaging. Varying sentence structures keeps readers interested and prevents boredom.

3. **Improves Active Voice Usage**: Expletive sentences are often formed using the passive voice, which can make writing appear dull and impersonal. Revising these sentences allows us to shift to the active voice, which adds a dynamic element to our writing. For example, instead of saying “There is a plan in action,” we can say “We are implementing a plan.”

4. **Enhances Empathy and Connection**: By eliminating expletive sentences, we can create a stronger connection with our readers. Sentences like “It is believed that” or “There are those who say” distance the writer from the subject matter. Revising to a more direct, personal voice fosters empathy and builds stronger connections with the audience.

5. **Fosters Conciseness**: Revising expletive sentences helps to eliminate unnecessary words, streamlining our writing and making it more concise. This is particularly important when writing in contexts with strict word limits, such as academic papers or business reports. Removing these empty subjects allows us to express our ideas more succinctly.

6. **Enhances the Active Verb**: In expletive sentences, the active verb is often placed further in the sentence, reducing its impact. Revising these sentences allows us to bring the active verb to the forefront, emphasizing the action or event being described. For example, instead of saying “There are various locations where we can gather,” we can say “We can gather in various locations.”

Overall, revising or avoiding expletive sentences can significantly improve the clarity, variety, and impact of our writing. By eliminating these empty subjects, we can create more concise, engaging, and persuasive content that resonates with our audience. So, next time you come across an expletive sentence, consider the six reasons for revising it and strive to enhance your writing by making it more direct and meaningful.

1. Switching From Passive Voice to Active Voice

One of the most important reasons for avoiding the grammatical expletive is to switch from passive voice to active voice. The grammatical expletive, commonly known as filler words or empty subjects, adds unnecessary bulk to sentences and weakens their impact. By using the active voice, where the subject performs the action, instead of the passive voice, where the subject receives the action, writing becomes more direct and engaging.

For example, consider the following sentence in passive voice:
“The report was read by Sarah.”

Now, let’s rewrite it using active voice:
“Sarah read the report.”

Not only does the active voice eliminate the grammatical expletive, but it also highlights the doer of the action, making the sentence clearer and more concise.

2. Enhancing Clarity and Conciseness

Avoiding the grammatical expletive helps enhance the clarity and conciseness of writing. Using filler words like “there” or “it” can create unnecessary confusion and wordiness. By directly stating the subject and verb, you eliminate the need for these empty subjects and make your writing more straightforward.

Consider these examples:

Expletive-filled sentence: “There are many reasons why we should exercise regularly.”

Revised sentence: “Regular exercise offers numerous benefits.”

By eliminating the grammatical expletive, the revised sentence becomes more concise and easier to understand.

3. Increasing Sentence Variety and Readability

Continuously using the grammatical expletive can make writing monotonous and dull. Varying sentence structure and avoiding unnecessary filler words improves readability and keeps the readers engaged. Instead of relying on empty subjects, try using strong nouns or pronouns to start your sentences, creating a more impactful and dynamic flow.

For instance:

Expletive-filled sentence: “It is known that eating fruits and vegetables is good for your health.”

Revised sentence: “Consuming fruits and vegetables promotes good health.”

By replacing the expletive with a strong noun, the revised sentence becomes more engaging and energized.

4. Promoting Active Language and Emphasizing the Main Points

Excessive use of the grammatical expletive can lead to passive language, hiding the true meaning or significance of your message. By avoiding filler words, you can promote active language and emphasize the main points of your writing. Clear and concise sentences help readers grasp the essence of your ideas quickly and efficiently.

For example:

Expletive-filled sentence: “It is important to note that the company is facing financial challenges.”

Revised sentence: “The company faces significant financial challenges.”

In the revised sentence, the active language emphasizes the seriousness of the situation and allows the reader to fully comprehend the message without unnecessary distractions.

5. Improving Professional and Academic Writing

Avoiding the grammatical expletive is crucial for professional and academic writing. In these contexts, precision and clarity are highly valued. By eliminating filler words, you can demonstrate a strong command over the language and present your ideas in a more sophisticated and polished manner.

Using active voice and concise language provides a sense of professionalism and credibility to your work, making it more compelling for readers or evaluators.

6. Enhancing SEO and Online Content

In the age of digital content, understanding how to avoid the grammatical expletive is essential for enhancing search engine optimization (SEO) and increasing your online visibility. Internet users prefer concise and engaging content, and search engines prioritize well-structured and relevant writing.

By eliminating filler words and adopting an active voice, your online content becomes more captivating, leading to increased user engagement and improved search rankings.

Remember, the use of the grammatical expletive not only affects the quality of your writing but also the overall effectiveness of your message. By avoiding it, you can create clear, concise, and impactful content that resonates with your readers or audience.

2. Getting Specific With Your Writing

When it comes to writing, being specific is key. Whether you are writing a blog post, an academic paper, or a professional email, clarity is crucial for effective communication. This is where the grammatical expletive comes into play. The grammatical expletive, also known as the existential “there” or “it,” is a construction that adds unnecessary fluff to your writing. Here are six reasons why you should avoid it:

1. It adds wordiness
The grammatical expletive often consists of phrases like “there is” or “it is.” These phrases add unnecessary words to your sentences, making your writing more convoluted and less concise. By eliminating these expletives, you can streamline your writing and get straight to the point. This not only helps your readers grasp your message more easily but also strengthens your overall writing style.

2. It weakens sentence structure
Using the grammatical expletive can often lead to weak sentence structures. Instead of starting with the subject, the expletive pushes it to a later position in the sentence. This can make your writing less clear and less impactful. By rephrasing your sentences to eliminate the expletive, you can create stronger and more effective sentence structures.

3. It lacks specificity
The grammatical expletive adds vague and generalized language to your writing. Instead of providing specific details and information, it fills your sentences with empty placeholders. This can leave your readers guessing or searching for meaning. To enhance the clarity and precision of your writing, it is best to replace the expletive with specific nouns or descriptive phrases.

4. It can be confusing
The presence of the grammatical expletive can sometimes confuse readers, as it obscures the true subject of the sentence. It may create ambiguity and make it harder for readers to follow your message. By removing the expletive and reorganizing your sentence structure, you can ensure that your readers understand exactly what you are trying to convey in your writing.

5. It hinders active voice
Active voice is generally preferred over passive voice in writing, as it is more direct and engaging. The grammatical expletive tends to push the subject into a passive position, resulting in a less dynamic sentence. By eliminating the expletive, you can bring your subjects to the forefront and write in a more active and compelling voice.

6. It diminishes reader engagement
Writing that is filled with grammatical expletives can be tiresome for readers to navigate. It requires extra mental effort to decipher the intended meaning behind the fluffy language. By avoiding these expletives, you can create writing that is more engaging and enjoyable for your readers. They will appreciate the clarity and directness of your message.

3. Necessitating an Equally Interesting Verb

The grammatical expletive, also known as the dummy subject or the pleonastic pronoun, refers to the use of “it” or “there” as a placeholder subject in a sentence. While this construction may seem harmless, there are several reasons why it is often advised to avoid it in writing. One important reason is that the use of a grammatical expletive necessitates an equally interesting and engaging verb to follow, otherwise the sentence becomes weak and uninteresting.

When “it” or “there” is used as a grammatical expletive, the real subject of the sentence is often placed after the verb. This can result in a lack of clarity and makes it challenging for readers to quickly grasp the main point of the sentence. Consider the following example:

Incorrect: It is important that readers engage with the content.

In this sentence, “it” is serving as the grammatical expletive, while the real subject (“that readers engage with the content”) comes after the verb. The sentence lacks clarity and feels weak.

To improve the sentence, we can rephrase it to place the real subject before the verb:

Correct: Readers engaging with the content is important.

By rephrasing the sentence, we eliminate the need for a grammatical expletive and create a stronger sentence.

Using a more interesting and engaging verb also helps to avoid relying on a grammatical expletive. For example:

Weak: It is difficult to understand complex concepts.
Strong: Understanding complex concepts is challenging.

In the weak sentence, the use of “it” as a grammatical expletive diminishes the impact of the sentence. However, in the strong sentence, the verb “understanding” becomes the focal point, making the sentence more engaging for the reader.

4. Providing Grammatical Clarity for the Reader

Grammatical clarity is crucial for effective communication. When writing, it is essential to ensure that your message is conveyed clearly and accurately. The use of grammatical expletives can muddy the clarity of your writing. Grammatical expletives, also known as dummy pronouns or empty subjects, are unnecessary words that do not add any meaningful information to a sentence.

Here are six reasons why it is important to avoid using grammatical expletives in your writing:

1. Enhancing Sentence Structure: By eliminating grammatical expletives, you can improve the structure of your sentences. The removal of empty subjects allows for a more concise and direct communication of your ideas. Readers appreciate clear and straightforward writing, as it makes comprehension easier and more enjoyable.

2. Streamlining Sentence Length: Grammatical expletives can unnecessarily lengthen sentences, resulting in wordiness and loss of focus. By eliminating these empty subjects, you can create tighter sentences that get straight to the point. Remember, brevity is key in effective writing.

3. Improving Sentence Flow: Removing grammatical expletives can enhance the flow of your writing. Empty subjects disrupt the natural rhythm and flow of a sentence. By eliminating them, your writing becomes smoother, making it easier for the reader to follow your ideas.

4. Enhancing Readability: When readers encounter unnecessary words like grammatical expletives, it can cause confusion and detract from the overall readability of your writing. By avoiding these empty subjects, you create a more reader-friendly experience, allowing your audience to grasp your message more easily.

5. Conveying Confidence and Authority: Writing without grammatical expletives demonstrates a higher level of proficiency and command over the English language. It shows that you have taken the time to craft your sentences carefully, resulting in a more confident and authoritative tone.

6. Highlighting Key Points: Eliminating grammatical expletives allows you to emphasize important information more effectively. Instead of burying important ideas in unnecessary words, you can use strategic positioning or formatting techniques like bolding or bullet points to make key points stand out.

5. Adding Interest

Adding interest to our writing is crucial for engaging readers and keeping their attention. However, using grammatical expletives can actually make our writing less interesting and dull. Grammatical expletives are empty words or phrases that serve no real purpose in a sentence but merely act as temporary placeholders. By avoiding these expletives, we can create more compelling and lively writing. Here are six reasons why you should steer clear of them:

1. Streamlined Writing: Grammatical expletives often add unnecessary clutter to our writing, making it less concise and more convoluted. By removing them, we can streamline our sentences and convey our message more effectively. Readers appreciate clear and straightforward writing that gets straight to the point.

2. Improved Clarity: Grammatical expletives can sometimes create confusion and ambiguity in sentences. For example, consider the sentence: “There are many reasons why we should avoid grammatical expletives.” By removing the expletive “There are,” the sentence becomes clearer: “Many reasons exist for avoiding grammatical expletives.” This improved clarity helps readers understand our message more easily.

3. Enhanced Readability: Writing free from grammatical expletives tends to be more readable. Expletives can distract readers from the main point of a sentence and interrupt its flow. By eliminating them, we can enhance the overall readability of our writing, ensuring that readers can effortlessly follow our ideas.

4. Increased Impact: Grammatical expletives often weaken the impact of our writing. They dilute the message by shifting the focus away from the main subject. By eliminating expletives and placing the subject in a more prominent position, we can underscore the significance of our point and make it more powerful.

5. Engaging Tone: Avoiding grammatical expletives allows us to maintain a more engaging tone throughout our writing. Instead of relying on generic phrases like “There is” or “It is,” we can use more specific and descriptive language. This not only helps to captivate readers but also enables us to effectively convey our ideas and emotions.

6. Professionalism: Writing without grammatical expletives demonstrates a higher level of professionalism. It shows that we have taken the time to carefully craft our sentences and present our ideas in a coherent manner. By avoiding empty words or phrases, we can showcase our writing skills and establish credibility with our readers.

6. Engaging The Reader

Engaging the reader is a crucial aspect of effective writing. By avoiding the use of grammatical expletives, writers can create engaging content that captivates readers and holds their attention. Here are six reasons why avoiding the grammatical expletive is important for engaging the reader:

1. Clarity: Grammatical expletives, such as “there is” or “there are,” often weaken the clarity of a sentence by obscuring the real subject. For example, consider the sentence “There are several reasons why avoiding grammatical expletives is important.” By removing the expletive and restructuring the sentence, we get “Avoiding grammatical expletives is important for several reasons.” This revised sentence is more concise and clear, allowing readers to easily understand the main point.

2. Precision: Grammatical expletives can make writing vague and imprecise. By eliminating these unnecessary filler words, writers can convey their ideas more precisely. For instance, compare the sentence “There are many people who enjoy reading” with “Many people enjoy reading.” The latter sentence is more direct and informative, providing a clearer message to the reader.

3. Conciseness: Grammatical expletives often add unnecessary length to a sentence. By removing these expletives, writers can convey their ideas more concisely, keeping the reader engaged. For example, consider the sentence “There is a need for better educational resources in schools” versus “Schools need better educational resources.” The latter sentence is more concise and to the point, making it easier for the reader to grasp the writer’s intention.

4. Active voice: Avoiding grammatical expletives also encourages the use of active voice, which typically leads to more engaging writing. Active voice emphasizes the doer of the action, making the sentence more lively and dynamic. For instance, compare the sentence “There were several mistakes made in the report” with “The report contained several mistakes.” The latter sentence, using active voice, is more engaging as it explicitly identifies who made the mistakes.

5. Reader involvement: By eliminating grammatical expletives, writers can directly involve the reader in the content. Instead of starting a sentence with a vague construction like “There are,” writers can begin with a stronger subject. This engages the reader from the beginning and makes them feel more connected to the topic. For example, instead of starting with “There are many challenges faced in the healthcare system,” a writer can start with “Healthcare system faces many challenges.” This revised sentence immediately draws the reader’s attention and involvement.

6. Enhanced readability: Writing without grammatical expletives enhances the overall readability of the content. The removal of unnecessary words and structures allows for smoother flow and comprehension. Readers can process information more quickly and effortlessly, leading to a more enjoyable reading experience. This is particularly important in the fast-paced digital age, where attention spans are shorter, and readers crave easily digestible content.

Exceptions in Using Expletives

While it is generally advisable to avoid using the grammatical expletive in writing, there are a few exceptions where its usage can be acceptable and even beneficial. Let’s explore these exceptions in a clear and concise manner.

1. Style and Tone: In some cases, using the grammatical expletive can enhance the style and tone of your writing. It can add a conversational or informal touch, which may be appropriate in certain contexts such as personal narratives, creative writing, or blog posts. However, it is crucial to use it sparingly and purposefully to maintain readability and professionalism.

2. Literary and Rhetorical Devices: The grammatical expletive can be utilized as a literary or rhetorical device to create emphasis, draw attention, or introduce a specific point. Writers may intentionally include it for poetic or dramatic effect, allowing readers to engage with the text on a deeper level. Just remember to exercise caution and ensure that its usage aligns with the intended effect.

3. Quotations and Dialogue: When incorporating direct quotations or dialogue, it is essential to preserve the original wording as accurately as possible. If the quote or dialogue contains a grammatical expletive, it is acceptable to retain it to maintain authenticity. However, when paraphrasing or summarizing, it is preferable to rephrase the sentence without the expletive to maintain clarity and conciseness.

4. Informal Communication: In casual or informal writing, such as emails to friends, personal messages, or social media posts, the rules can be relaxed to a certain extent. The use of the grammatical expletive can help convey informality, authenticity, and a sense of familiarity. However, it is important to be mindful of your audience and adapt your language accordingly.

5. Cultural and Regional Considerations: Depending on the cultural or regional context, the use of the grammatical expletive may be more prevalent or accepted. In some dialects or linguistic varieties, it may be a natural part of everyday speech. In such cases, incorporating expletives into writing can reflect the authenticity, local flavor, or identity of the piece. However, it is crucial to understand the context and use them judiciously.

6. Creative Writing and Poetry: In creative writing, especially poetry, authors often play with language and experiment with different techniques. The grammatical expletive can be intentionally used for rhythmic purposes, to create a particular sound pattern, or to add a desired cadence to the text. Poets may utilize it for its aesthetic appeal or to evoke specific emotions in their readers.

It is important to note that these exceptions should be approached with caution and mindful consideration. While they may allow for the selective use of the grammatical expletive, it is still advisable to minimize its overall usage in formal writing. Keeping these exceptions in mind can help writers navigate the fine line between adhering to grammar conventions and utilizing language creatively.

Grammatically Expletive Sentences: The Final Word

Grammatical expletives, also known as dummy pronouns or empty subjects, are constructions that add no meaning to a sentence but are used for syntactic reasons. These sentences often begin with phrases like “it is” or “there are.” While they may seem harmless, there are several reasons why it is best to avoid using them. In this article, we will explore six key reasons why you should steer clear of grammatical expletives.

1. Lack of clarity:
Grammatical expletives can lead to confusion and ambiguity in a sentence. They add unnecessary words without contributing any meaningful information. When writing, it is important to strive for clarity, and eliminating expletives helps achieve this goal. By cutting out these empty subjects, you can provide readers with more concise and direct statements.

2. Weakens sentence impact:
Using grammatical expletives often dilutes the strength of your sentence. Instead of making a clear and forceful statement, these constructions tend to water down the impact. For example, compare the sentences “It is important to study hard” and “Studying hard is important.” The latter sentence is more direct and impactful, making a stronger case for the importance of studying.

3. Redundancy:
Grammatical expletives often result in redundancy within a sentence. Since these constructions don’t add any new information, removing them can eliminate repetitive elements and streamline your writing. Consider the sentence “There are many different colors available.” By removing the expletive, it becomes “Many different colors are available,” which is a more concise and effective statement.

4. Impersonal tone:
Using grammatical expletives can create a distancing effect and make your writing sound impersonal. It creates a sense of detachment between the subject and the action, making it harder to connect with the readers. By rephrasing the sentence to avoid expletives, you can establish a more personal and engaging tone.

5. Enhanced readability:
Eliminating grammatical expletives can greatly improve the readability of your writing. Readers often prefer concise and straightforward sentences that get straight to the point. By avoiding empty subjects, you can make your writing more accessible and engaging, holding the reader’s attention more effectively.

6. Professional writing standards:
In professional writing, it is generally expected to avoid grammatical expletives. Following this standard not only showcases your mastery of language but also enhances the overall quality of your writing. By adhering to professional guidelines, you can demonstrate your expertise and credibility to your audience.