Some words are so overused, they fail to make an impact. It is important to keep your writing fresh and engaging by being concise, whether you are writing a blog post, website content, marketing material or resume.
Here are my top 12 words to cut from your writing. I also asked people on my Facebook page what overused words and phrases drive them up the wall (sorry). Their responses are listed below my list.
People frequently use this word in conversation to emphasise a point, but when written, “really” is ineffectual. “Our products are really fantastic” doesn’t have the impact of simply saying, “Our products are fantastic.”
Similarly, the word “very” is unnecessary. “I am proud to present” is more concise and powerful than “I’m very proud to present.”
If something is true, you don’t need to add the word “literally” to make your point.
This is a redundant word that weakens and clutters writing.
This is another overused, “filler” word. “That” does have its place, but be judicious with its use. For example, “This is something that I want to tell you” is clunky. “This is something I want to tell you” is more concise.
This word is used so often, its meaning has lost impact. Use a thesaurus and pick a more imaginative word.
Thing and things are lazy words! Be more specific and people will pay attention.
You can usually make do without this word. “I am seeking employment” is more concise but has the same meaning as “I am currently seeking employment”.
This is an ineffectual word. “It was quite a marvellous meal” sounds dreary compared to “It was a marvellous meal.”
“Basically, it’s still the same thing”, “Basically, my lexicon is basic” … Yawn! People insert “basically” into a sentence to emphasise an important element or feature, but your writing will be stronger without it.
12. BATTEN DOWN THE HATCHES
(OK, no. 12 is more than one word, it’s a saying – my LEAST favourite saying) Newspapers and media use this phrase every time there is a storm or (ahem) “significant weather event”. It sounds silly and it’s unimaginative. Be more creative!
A selection of writing and conversation peeves from Full Stop’s Facebook fans:
Carmen: “Journey” in relation to diets and lifestyle. How about, “I hate to be a pain, but …” or “No offense, but …”
Dan: “Awesome” and “Cool”.
Andiee: “Work/life balance”. I hate it too. It’s not a balance, it’s a juggling act that requires readjustment every day.
Kylie: “To be honest …” What? You are usually not honest? “Touch base.” Who is base? “Moving forward” – the advertising department uses that a lot.
Christine: “Well, basically! You know?”
Bev: “At the end of the day.” Politicians asked a question and prefix their reply with, “Can I just say”.
Anne: “At the end of the day.”
Matthew: “Put in 110%.”
Enne: I don’t like it but I use it all the time … “Essentially.”
Georgia: “Like”, “literally”.
Susan: “Moving on …”
Mary-Anne: Corporate world … “Forest for the trees”, “Don’t rest on your laurels”, “At the end of the day” (and now that’s a song even more annoying …).
Carmel: When someone is correcting something you’ve said, “I think you’ll find …”