Clear language is so, so important, both in the written and spoken word. We have to make ourselves understood of course, so the easier we make it for our audience, the better it is for both parties.

I travel quite a bit on trains in the south of England. The train companies announce the service, the places where it calls, and for the busy commuters how many carriages there are. More carriages, more comfortable travel, at least in theory.

‘This train is formed of 8 carriages.’ Why oh why do they phrase it that way? They’re using the spoken word. When have you ever uttered ‘something is formed of 8 somethings’ in conversation? You would never say that. You would say ‘this train’s got 8 carriages.’

I’ve gone on about the unnecessary use of the passive voice before.  What’s wrong with saying ‘This train has 8 carriages?’

Clear language shouldn’t be difficult. It should be easy. We make it difficult, and in so doing make it difficult for everyone.

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