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Stop Using "In Fact," "The Fact Is," And "As A Matter Of Fact"

Last week, I wrote about unnecessary phrases related to statements of opinion. This week, I'm addressing a similar topic: unnecessary phrases related to statements of fact. In most cases, you should omit any phrase that includes the word "fact," including "the fact is," "in fact," and "as a matter of fact." As long as you use factual (not opinion-related) words in the sentence, such phrases will be redundant.

Write This, Not That: Use Factual Words, Not "In Fact" or "The Fact Is That" (or "As a Matter of Fact")

...Not That

Phrases that serve to play up a statement's factual nature—such as "in fact," "as a matter of fact," "the fact is," and "the fact remains"—typically do not add meaning to a sentence. Consider these examples:

Eddie Gaedel was only 3 feet, 7 inches tall, in fact. Nonetheless, the fact remains that there are not enough members to vote on the proposal. Lucy is, as a matter of fact, the youngest of 10 children. The fact is, I have a meeting at 6 a.m., so I will go to bed soon.

In each case, the bolded phrase can be removed from the sentence without changing the meaning. In other words, these phrases are redundant, as the sentences are already clearly factual. The more concise versions, unsurprisingly, read better:

Eddie Gaedel was only 3 feet, 7 inches tall. Nonetheless, there are not enough members to vote on the proposal. Lucy is the youngest of 10 children. I have a meeting at 6 a.m., so I will go to bed soon.

I'd recommend watching out for any use of the word "fact" (singular) in your writing, as a reference to an individual fact is typically clear without that word. However, the plural "facts" is usually appropriate, including in legal contexts (e.g., "the facts of the case") or when contrasting with opinions ("His beliefs and the facts did not match").


Use This...

A typical factual statement can omit phrases with the word "fact" because the other words in the sentence already express its factual nature. There are several ways to indicate a fact with word choices, but two common ones are measurable quantities and simple verbs (e.g., forms of "is" and "have"). Each of the example sentences contains a simple verb and a measurable amount (underlined for emphasis):

Eddie Gaedel was only 3 feet, 7 inches tall. Nonetheless, there are not enough members to vote on the proposal. Lucy is the youngest of 10 children. I have a meeting at 6 a.m., so I will go to bed soon.

("Not enough" is measurable because it indicates that the number of members is less than a threshold.)


Note that a simple verb alone is not sufficient to indicate a factual statement; if such a verb is used with a strong adjective that indicates an opinion (as listed in the previous post), then the statement will be an opinion. As long as you avoid verbs and adjectives that indicate opinions, however, your sentence will stand on its own as a fact—and will not require a phrase such as "the fact is."


Another common indication of a fact is an expression of an action; this includes any description of an intention to act in the future (such as "I will go" in the last example) or of a past or current action (such as "I walked to the store" and "He is sitting in a tree"). For whatever reason, writers do not use "fact" phrases in statements of actions nearly as often as they do for statements of measurements, but still: Any sentence that only describes actions does not need the word "fact."


That's all for today! Do you have any questions about how to write about facts? Perhaps you have a pet peeve phrase that you'd like to suggest for a future post in this series? Drop me a line in the comments or via email at info@elevationediting.com. And as always, if you'd like someone to take care of these issue for you, I'd be glad to do so—just submit your document at ElevationEditing.com.

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