Copywriters, there's nothing wrong with "because of"!September 20th, 2013 7 Comments
“It’s a hot day because of the sun.”
Simple, right? You know what it means without having to even think about it. You just read it and move on to the next sentence. And isn’t that our job as copywriters? To get people to move on to the next sentence?
Or is it to astound readers with our stunning vocabulary?
Is this alternative really an alternative?
Let’s try again, but this time replace “because of” with a synonym:
“It’s a hot day owing to the sun.”
Not so clear, eh? I know you can read it and understand. But it’s not a common construction, nor is it as simple as it could be.
But that’s the sort of sentence Mark Nichol at ragan.com is advocating in 16 substitutes for ‘because’ or ‘because of’.
And it gets worse…
What about these?
- Being as
- Considering that
- Inasmuch as
- In view of the fact that
In what world are these phrases acceptable alternatives to “because” or “because of”?
I know he’s only suggesting alternatives to break up monotony, but c’mon! These alternatives are ridiculous. Most readers will glaze over the moment one of these babies befouls their retinas.
Personally, I’d rather a bit of repetition than a lot of pomposity.
If monotony’s a problem, rewrite, don’t replace
Don’t get me wrong; I’d rather no repetition at all. But there are other ways to achieve it than by using less effective alternatives.
For example, the first thing copywriter and editor, Bill Harper, would suggest would be to find a different way to say it. So if you’d just used a “because of” construction – recently enough that readers will notice (and usually they won’t) – perhaps try:
“The sun made it a hot day.”
Or better yet (depending on your audience):
“We were popsicles in the sun.”
Nothing breaks up monotony like an accessible metaphor.
Don’t be a slave to the first construction that makes its way onto your page. If you’re struggling with monotony, don’t look for synonyms.
Find a better way.
What do you think?
Have I got it all wrong?
Please comment below with your thoughts. I'm not so old a dog that I can't learn a few new tricks!