Glue Words & Sticky Sentences

Glue Words & Sticky Sentences

April 24, 2018 Blog 2

Richard Wydick stated that there were two kinds of words: glue words and working words. His idea was that working words carried the meaning of a sentence while glue words bound them together. What do glue words look like?

Let’s give an example:

The boys are heading to the store to get soda in case they run out of it when they are at the party.

As you can see, the glue words carry little meaning themselves, serving mostly to bind more meaningful words together. You might have also noticed that the sentence sounded a bit stilted. This is because the ratio of glue words to working words was too high.

Making Sentences Less Sticky

Let’s see what happens when we remove some of the glue words from our previous example:

The boys are getting soda to make sure there’s enough for the party.

We had to rework our sentence a little, but this one is shorter, easier to read, and still carries the full meaning of the previous one.

Sometimes glue words can simply be deleted without any further changes to a sentence:

To save on gas we decided not to meet up with our friends.


To save gas we decided not to meet our friends.

Now this isn’t to say that all sticky sentences are bad. Many successful authors make judicious use of glue words and receive accolades for their work. If you’re using a proofreading tool like PaperEdit, for instance, treat each sticky sentence it highlights as merely a suggestion. It’s still up to you to make the final call.

The Takeaway

  • Delete glue words to make your sentences less sticky.
  • Rework your sentences to require less glue words.
  • Use a proofreading tool to highlight all your sticky sentences for you. You can start your free 15 day trial by downloading PaperEdit here.


2 Responses

  1. Arlie says:

    Hi there! Such a great short article, thank you!

  2. Sherrill says:

    Hi there! Such a great write-up, thanks!

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