Misc.: Not-so-helping verb

December 18, 2008: Issue 269

The word help, ironically, rarely helps your writing. More often, it weakens verbs and should be deleted.

acceptable: Frosted glass helps protect privacy.
preferred: Frosted glass protects privacy.

acceptable: A sugar substitute helps cut the calories in your morning coffee.
preferred: A sugar substitute cuts the calories in your morning coffee.

Hold onto help only when deleting it compromises accuracy.

correct: Jim helped plant the garden that was named best in the city in 2008.
incorrect: Jim planted the garden that was named best in the city in 2008.

Speaking of helping, check out a video from Free to Be You and Me.

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