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Concision | Worked example

Watch David work through a concision question from the Praxis Core Writing test.

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  • blobby green style avatar for user Shanl Parish
    In the sentence, the quote "the festival of colors" is written so the comma that follows the quote is outside of the quotations marks. Wouldn't it be more correct if it said, "the festival of colors,"?
    (1 vote)
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Video transcript

- [Instructor] An annual religious holiday known as the "festival of colors" Holi takes its place every year in spring across India and its diaspora. Frankly, at first blush, there don't seem to be a lot of errors in this error ID question. Nothing leaps out. So let's go through these underlines one by one and see if there's an error that will reveal itself to us. So okay, option A, religious. Religious is an adjective. It is modifying holiday. I see nothing with wrong with that. Cross it off. Next up is this comma. This descriptive aside isn't a sentence. It's not even a clause. It's an annual religious holiday known as the festival of colors, comma, Holi. So Holi is the name of a holiday. This comma is separating this bracketed modifying phrase from Holi. It's being used correctly. Every year in spring across India. Every year, an annual. I can see they're right next to each other, so it makes it easier to see. This is redundant, right? Like it's unnecessary. If they were closer together, I think it would be more obvious. But annual means the same thing as every year, and there's nothing ungrammatical about that, but it's just sort of unnecessary. So I think what this question is testing is our knowledge of writing concisely. This is a concision error that is being committed here. I'm pretty sure. Let's just make double sure that there's anything, there doesn't seem to be anything weird about across India and its diaspora, so this is a conventional use of the preposition across to show, you know, where Holi is celebrated. So I'm gonna say that's not our error. And go back to every year in spring. Now if I ran this zoo, I think what I would do is cross off year in, and just say every spring, which has a different connotation than every year in spring. This may not seem like that big of an error, right? But compare it to something on a shorter time scale. For example, the weekly bulletin is published each week on Thursday. You know, you've said that it's, we get that it's weekly. We get it, so you could change this in one of two ways. You could get rid of weekly or you could get rid of week on, right? The weekly bulletin is published each Thursday, or the bulletin is published each week on Thursday. It's not like there's anything grammatically incorrect about the phrase, "each week on Thursday." Nor is there anything the matter with the word weekly. It's just there's no sense in wasting a reader's time with redundant information. Concision questions can be difficult because it's very easy to glaze right past them. My strategy for things like this is if I see an adjective or a time period underlined, I hunt for redundancies. If something is described the same way twice in a sentence, that's a clue, you know. Like the big elephant was large. Well, we know it's large, so why don't we just take out big. Right, and there's nothing grammatically incorrect about that. It just feels stylistically sloppy. So as you go through the test, maintain an awareness of concision.