I am writing a summary about how the author's team developed an android app. Before starting to code, they had tried to take into consideration all possible issues and they had missed a couple of them.
And I wrote this:

A choice of way of storing intermediate data is one of those unspecified details during their development.

I think here is too much "of". Or is it OK in this situation?

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    Why do you think using "of" three times is too much in this sentence? – LMS Jan 9 '17 at 20:08
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    When writing English, good style tends to solve this problem automatically. In this case you could just use available verbs and avoid a lot of extraneous verbiage: "Storing intermediate data is unspecified during development" – Andrew Jan 9 '17 at 20:16
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    Multiple occurances of of isn't a problem in and of itself. However, A choice of way is an awkward beginning to a sentence. I think something like Choosing a way would work better than A choice of way. – J.R. Jan 9 '17 at 20:16
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    Not an answer, but you may want to consider some other words instead of the verbose "one of those unspecified details". Perhaps overlooked or maybe neglected. – Damkerng T. Jan 9 '17 at 20:33
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    When a sentence is so bad, the whole thing should be chucked out and the initiative begun again. Come on. Try this formula: Subject + Verb + Object. Then come back to us. – Lambie Jan 9 '17 at 21:36

In fact, you can get rid of the two first "ofs" like this:

Choosing/deciding how to store intermediate data is one of those unspecified details during their development.

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    That's funny; I was going to suggest getting rid of the one you left in: How to store intermediate data is an unspecified detail during development. – J.R. Jan 9 '17 at 20:14
  • But if you're going to rewrite the sentence, why not go all the way and remove all extraneous verbiage? A better sentence doesn't require any "of" at all: "Storing intermediate data is unspecified during development" – Andrew Jan 9 '17 at 20:15
  • @Andrew Your suggestion and the one by J.R. are grammatically fine, but I think they slightly change the intended meaning. The original sentence suggests that there are several unspecified details, while the proposed reformulations leave that out. – Tsundoku Jan 9 '17 at 20:17
  • @ChristopheStrobbe Possibly, but not certainly. It depends what OP is trying to say. – Andrew Jan 9 '17 at 20:17
  • @Andrew Exactly. That's why I left the last part as it was. – Tsundoku Jan 9 '17 at 20:18

I think your instinct about there being an excessive number of instances of "of" is correct. I would reword the sentence to say something like:

"Details such as {how to store, storage of} intermediate data were left unspecified during development."


"{How to store, storage of} intermediate data was another detail left unspecified during development."


To be perfectly honest, the original sentence is just atrocious. I'm not even exactly sure what you are trying to say there. So, it's very hard for me to make the necessary corrections. But here's my take on it anyway:

The choice to store intermediate data (some more information needed here, where is it going to be stored?) was one of those unspecified requirements that always tend to come up when the development process is already in full swing.

Generally speaking, it does not really matter how many of's, and's or what have you you've got in your sentences as long as they are properly formed and semantically clear to anybody reading them. But that's something you should be worried about least of all at this moment in time. What you should concentrate on instead right now is to learn how to express your thoughts in clear and easy to understand language so that people reading them don't have to jump through hoops trying to figure out what the heck you are trying to say.

  • Thank you for an honest opinion. It is indeed atrocious. – Lambie Jan 9 '17 at 21:35
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    Using a word like "atrocious" to describe a sentence that someone asked for help with in the first place is unnecessary and certainly not constructive. It's a question-and-answer site, not a question-and-belittling site. As the site guidelines say, be nice. – Alan Jan 10 '17 at 13:39

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