Copywriters, there’s nothing wrong with “because of”!

September 20, 2013 •
Image about monotony in copywriting

“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 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?

Feel free to comment...
comment avatar
Larry Czaplyski wrote on September 21st, 2013

I think you are spot on. You're right, that writing is about making things clear to the reader; no need for verbal pyrotechnics. Put the reader first and submerge your ego. If you really have to express yourself, write some poetry or fiction. On your own dime, I might add.

comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on September 23rd, 2013

Completely agree. Verbal pyrotechnics = verbal diarrhoea!

comment avatar
Corey Pemberton wrote on October 4th, 2013

I tend to agree with you on this one, Glenn. Using connectors like "inasmuch as" and "in view of the fact that" just doesn't sound natural. They're distracting, and they put the onus on the reader to figure out what we mean. I think it's our job as copywriters to connect the dots for people and make things as easy to read as we can. Nothing wrong with "because of", in my opinion! Thanks, Corey

comment avatar
Emily Read wrote on October 5th, 2013

"Most readers will glaze over the moment one of these babies befouls their retinas" = best line I've read all day.

comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on October 5th, 2013

Haha! Thanks Emily!

comment avatar
Glenn Murray wrote on October 5th, 2013

Thanks Corey. At least my rant made me realise I'm no the only one!

comment avatar
Copywriters, there’s nothing wrong with “because of”! | AWD CopywritingBlog wrote on October 23rd, 2013

[…] Copywriters, there’s nothing wrong with “because of”! […]

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