Skip to navigation | Skip to main content | Skip to footer

Impersonal expressions

Avoiding excessive use of impersonal expressions

Some forms of the verb 'be' produce weak sentences. Again, this is often because they result in passive sentences (see above). Other forms are used with the meaningless subjects ‘it’ and ‘there’ at the beginning of clauses/sentences. You can frequently rewrite any sentence which begins 'It’, ‘There is/are’, ‘There was/were' to make it clearer and more reader-friendly.

Example 1 

Example: It is fair to say that setting up a system of teaching and research that is better able to produce more original and creative researchers and research results is, alongside teaching innovations, one of the pillars of university reform.

The style used here can be improved.

Example: Setting up a system of teaching and research that is better able to produce more original and creative researchers and research results is, alongside teaching innovations, one of the pillars of university reform.

This is an improved style.

Example 2 

Example: There clearly exists a culture of continuous improvement throughout the higher education sector.

The style used here can be improved.

Example: A culture of continuous improvement clearly exists throughout the higher education sector.

This is an improved style.

Example 3 

Example: In addition to the importance of data on families and households at a national level, in recent years there has been an increasing interest in the international comparability of social statistics.

The style used here can be improved.

Example: In addition to the importance of data on families and households at a national level, in recent years interest has increased in the international comparability of social statistics.

This is an improved style.

Example 4 

Example: There is no evidence supporting the hypothesis that the world economy was in any way integrated prior to 1492, despite the claims made in this article.  

The style used here can be improved.

Example: Despite the claims made in this article, no evidence supports the hypothesis that the world economy was in any way integrated prior to 1492.

OR:

Example: No evidence supports the hypothesis that the world economy was in any way integrated prior to 1492, despite the claims made in this article.

This is an improved style.