Out of Order?


One of the most common phrases I see and hear is “in order to”:

• In order to vote, you have to be registered by a stated date.
• We will take a poll in order to see who the two most popular candidates are.
• We will book our trip next Tuesday in order to get the best airfare.

In all those sentences, the words “in order” are extraneous; they add no information. They are saying the equivalent of “so that,” but that idea is implied by the word “to” alone. When words don’t do any work, chop them out.

You probably should proofread several times: once for obvious typos and grammatical errors, again for punctuation problems, and one more time to make certain your writing is as clear and concise as possible. If you proofread out loud (barely audibly is fine) and very slowly, you will catch many errors you won’t find when you read silently and at your usual speed. Unless we slow down and speak out, we all tend to see what we think we wrote, not what we actually wrote.

People used to think proofreading backwards was helpful; I do not recommend this technique. It will pick up typos, but since you are not understanding the meaning of your writing, you will miss just about everything else.


Filed under All things having to do with the English language

2 responses to “Out of Order?

  1. Isa

    I cannot agree more! I found out that changing the font will help me look at my text with a different “pair of eyes”. I rarely do this, to be honest, but when I don’t have the time to let it sit for a while before proofreading, there are a number of tricks (printing out, reading aloud, changing font) that worked for me. Proofreading backwards is something I never heard of, you completely miss the music of words (not to mention the narrative!).


    • You agree with me and I agree with everything you wrote, too. I’m so glad when I hear from people who care about their writing. In this age of abbreviations and emojis, the clearly written sentence is taking a blow.

      Thanks so much for your comment, Isa. Mille grazie!

      Liked by 1 person

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