Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Garner’s Usage Tip of the Day

Re: process:

The phrase “in the process of” never adds anything to the sentence in which it appears. You can safely omit it and thereby tighten your sentence — e.g.:
“I have on my desk a little manuscript from the fourteenth century written by an unknown author, which I am in the process of [delete ‘in the process of’] editing.” Donald J. Lloyd, “Our National Mania for Correctness,” in A Linguistics Reader 57, 58 (Graham Wilson ed., 1967).

“Appropriately for a community that was in the process of [delete ‘in the process of’] acquiring the sophistication of golf and drugs, this was not a case of a mean little robbery gone wrong but a thoroughly contemporary killing.” Owen Harris, "A Long Time Between Murders," Am. Scholar, Winter 2001, at 71, 79.
The singular of “process” is pronounced /PRAH-ses/ in American English, /PROH-ses/ in British English. But what about the plural? Is it /PRAH-ses-iz/ (/PROH-/ in British English) or /PRAH-suh-seez/? The first, preferably: the second is an affectation because the word is English, not Greek.
Bryan Garner, author of Garner’s Modern American Usage (Oxford University Press, 2009), offers a free Usage Tip of the Day. You can sign up at LawProse.org. Orange Crate Art is a Garner-friendly site: Modern American Usage is, to my mind, a model of clarity and good sense (though I like to type out numbers up to ninety-nine).

comments: 4

Diane Schirf said...

I wonder if people who use "in the process of" do so out of habit, or if some are trying to convey that it's not a single act, but a series of acts that will take time. I'm in the process of researching this. Not.

Michael Leddy said...

I think you’re right. Or it might suggest that whatever the work is, someone’s not doing it at that moment. I still like Garner’s suggestion to delete.

Matt Thomas said...

I’m in the process of wondering whether to follow this advice.

Michael Leddy said...

I’m sure you’ll make the right decision going forward.