70 words and phrases to remove and avoid

Eugen Eşanu
Jul 9 · 4 min read

“One morning at breakfast, when she was in the first or second grade, E. L. Doctorow’s daughter, Caroline, asked her father to write a note explaining her absence from school, due to a cold, the previous day. Doctorow began,“My daughter, Caroline….” He stopped. “Of course she’s my daughter,” he said to himself. “Who else would be writing a note for her?” He began again. “Please excuse Caroline Doctorow….” He stopped again. “Why do I have to beg and plead for her?” he said.“She had a virus. She didn’t commit a crime!” On he went, note after failed note, until a pile of crumpled pages lay at his feet. Finally, his wife, Helen, said, “I can’t take this anymore,” penned a perfect note and sent Caroline off to school. Doctorow concluded: “Writing is very difficult, especially in the short form.”

Writing short and concise is hard. It’s even harder to not doubt your own writing. Even though I am a beginner, I realised how difficult it is to keep your ideas short and concise without bloating them with useless words or ideas.

You can doubt your words when you speak, but don’t doubt your writing. It doesn’t add anything to your style or value of your story. The world is full of people who are afraid to get their point across. Instead, they hide their ideas behind words and phrases that could be excluded. So I made a list of “doubtfull” phrases that can be easily avoided almost in all cases. For example:

  • I think the government should follow the law. Also, I am tempted to say that what they did in ABC is, anyways, a bad move.
  • The government must follow the law. Also, what they did in ABC is a bad move.

As you can see in the example from above, the writing became bold and clear, whe we removed the doubt. This way, you can get your message across faster and look like a confident writer. Should you remove those words and phrases all the time? No. It will always depend on the context and message you are trying to send. For example, instead of saying:

  • I am of the opinion that — (say your opinion)
  • I am tempted to say — (say it)
  • due to the notion that
  • because of the idea that

Usually, when you write an article or a story, people already know why they are reading and whom they are reading from. So there is no need for using these type of expressions in your writing:

  • like I said/wrote — (we already know what you wrote)
  • like I was saying
  • like I previously stated
  • like I previously said
  • like I previously wrote
  • in my/our opinion — (say your opinion)
  • in the process of
  • in actual fact
  • in terms of
  • in a manner of speaking
  • in a very real sense — (avoid using the adverb very)
  • in the final analysis
  • in a sense that(explain the sense)
  • what I mean to say — (say it)
  • what I want to say — (say it)
  • when I think about it — (don’t write it)
  • I think that
  • on the grounds that
  • it is important to bear in mind that
  • in this regard it is of significance that — (this already adds headache)
  • as we covered at the beginning — (use it only if you want to sum up)
  • like we discussed — (same)

Words that rob your writing:

  • a bit
  • above-listed
  • before-mentioned
  • like
  • sort of
  • is sort of
  • kind of
  • is kind of
  • somewhat
  • pretty much
  • pretty
  • in a sense
  • quite
  • really
  • yeah
  • it seems like
  • seems like
  • it seems that
  • because of
  • anyway
  • maybe
  • perhaps
  • overall
  • everyone knows
  • of course
  • vast majority
  • vast minority
  • any and all
  • anyways
  • anywheres
  • everyone knows — (no, not everyone knows)
  • of course
  • vast majority
  • vast minority
  • any and all
  • anyways
  • anywheres
  • the fact of the matter
  • when it comes to
  • please be advised
  • at all times

Whenever you write a story or an article, ask yourself if these words and expressions rob your writing of meaning and clarity or not. And remember that:

Language follows rules; it doesn’t follow orders.

In case you think the list is too big to check all the time, you can try Shosho. It will scan for you all the redundant words, jargons and phrases you can omit. And it will make room for your writing to breath and shine :)


Write More. Better.

Eugen Eşanu

Written by

Designing at Laroche.co


Write More. Better.

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