Sneaky Character: Of

Oh, sure, it looks like such an innocent little word.

What possible problem could a teeny-tiny preposition like of cause?

Just because it’s helped you out in the odd game of Scrabble, don’t be fooled.

Of is a sneaky character — much like Lefty the letter salesman trying to sell Ernie an "O" up above. It creeps into bloated phrases with nouns that should be verbs. It lurks in the corners of flabby sentences that could get to the point already.

Consider this:

A consideration of possible profits was made by Megan.
An assessment of risks was done by Jared. 
A review of chocolate cakes was conducted by Stephanie.

See what’s worse? Sneaky of also leads to writing in the passive voice (which we don’t like!). 

Now, let’s rewrite those sentences —removing of — and breathe a sigh of relief:

Megan considered the possible profits.
Jared assessed the risks.
Stephanie reviewed the chocolate cakes.

See how much more life the new sentences have? Much shorter, too.

Am I saying we should ban of

Absolutely not. 

Of can be very useful in the right sentences and for playing certain word games. Just make sure it hasn’t crept in to your writing with the sole purpose of you more wordy.