“This” + verb = unclear

Short Tip:
Search your document for “. This” to find and remove ambiguities in your phrasing.

When you have a sentence that starts with the word “This“, I advise making the second word in your sentence a noun, not a verb. An adjective+noun pairing will also work. This sentence structure clarifies your meaning, and so makes it easier for your reader to follow your argument.

Incorrect:

  • The multitude of factors that contribute to Vancouver’s high youth homelessness rate make it difficult for healthcare providers to provide appropriate care to young, vulnerable women. This exacerbates the impact of the opioid crisis.

Problem:

  • What specifically exacerbates the impact of the opioid crisis? Is it the lack of appropriate care for young, vulnerable women? The difficulties of healthcare providers in this context? The high homelessness rate? The multitude of factors that contribute to this high rate? Or some combination of all of these?

Identifying the Problem:

  • Search for “. This” and look to see whether the word “This” is followed by a verb, a noun, or an adjective+noun pairing. In our example, “This” is followed by “exacerbates”—a verb—which is your clue to revise the sentence.

Correction:

  • The multitude of factors that contribute to Vancouver’s high youth homelessness rate make it difficult for healthcare providers to provide appropriate care to young, vulnerable women. This inconsistent care exacerbates the impact of the opioid crisis.

 

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