George Orwell is famous first for novels such as Animal Farm and 1984, but he also wrote a number of brilliant and insightful essays. His written English is clean and unambiguous, and therein lies the beauty. In his essay “Politics and the English Language”, Orwell writes that “the great enemy of clear language is insincerity” and communicates 6 rules to help keep your writing clear and concise.
(i) Never use a metaphor, simile, or other figure of speech which you are used to seeing in print.
(ii) Never use a long word where a short one will do.
(iii) If it is possible to cut a word out, always cut it out.
(iv) Never use the passive where you can use the active.*
(v) Never use a foreign phrase, a scientific word, or a jargon word if you can think of an everyday English equivalent.
(vi) Break any of these rules sooner than say anything outright barbarous.
*‘active’ is when the subject of the sentence performs the verb and the object is the recipient e.g.
The mechanic fixed the car.
‘passive’ is when the object of the verb functions as the sentence subject and the main verbal phrase includes the verb ‘to be’ and the past participle:
The car was fixed by the mechanic.
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