Skip to content

The Evolution of a Sentence

I  was just writing a comment on a discussion board when I noticed the evolution of one of my sentences:

First version:  I find your progress inspiring.
Second version:  Your progress is inspiring.
Third version: Your progress inspires me.

The first version focuses on me rather than the person I was complimenting, and it's wordier than necessary. The second version uses the dull verb is. The third compliments the other person from the beginning, and it uses the powerful action verb inspires. 

Now, on to the next sentence.

Syntax Training


Posted by Lynn Gaertner Johnson
By Lynn Gaertner-Johnston

Lynn Gaertner-Johnston has helped thousands of employees and managers improve their business writing skills and confidence through her company, Syntax Training. In her corporate training career of more than 20 years, she has worked with executives, engineers, scientists, sales staff, and many other professionals, helping them get their messages across with clarity and tact.

A gifted teacher, Lynn has led writing classes at more than 100 companies and organizations such as MasterCard, Microsoft, Boeing, Nintendo, REI, AARP, Ledcor, and Kaiser Permanente. Near her home in Seattle, Washington, she has taught managerial communications in the MBA programs of the University of Washington and UW Bothell. She has created a communications course, Business Writing That Builds Relationships, and provides the curriculum at no cost to college instructors.

A recognized expert in business writing etiquette, Lynn has been quoted in "The Wall Street Journal," "The Atlantic," "Vanity Fair," and other media.

Lynn sharpened her business writing skills at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master's degree in communication, and at Bradley University, with a bachelor's degree in English. She grew up in suburban Chicago, Illinois.

5 comments on “The Evolution of a Sentence”

  • I am a writing tutor trying to help others achieve clarity and power in their sentences.

    Your blog is a great example and helps me visualize the subtle differences in tone.

    Your post has inspired me.

  • Ditto Dev’s comment!

    Though, to be even more efficient:
    Your posts inspire me!

    (Emphasis on the many posts, as a collective, ongoing influence.)

    Thanks, Lynn!

    Tom Roux
    The Business Insider Blog (

  • Thanks, Dev and Tom. I love getting such positive responses. (And for the record, my first version of that sentence was “I love getting such a positive response.” The tighter version sounds better to me.)

  • Well defined. It’s good to “read” into which part we want to emphasize to produce a powerful sentence.

Comments are closed.