As a doctoral student, I aim to write very clearly. This is not always easy and often takes several revisions. However, there are some words we have just become so used to saying/writing that we hardly notice they aren’t saying much at all.
In the listicle (listing article) “15 Words You Should Eliminate From Your Vocabulary to Sound Smarter”Jennie Haskamp identifies vague and often meaningless words most of us are guilty of using. Below are a few of the words, along with explanations taken directly from the article, I am most guilty of using (as demonstrated above). I’m trying my best to eliminate them from my vocabulary:
It’s superfluous most of the time. Open any document you’ve got drafted on your desktop, and find a sentence with “that” in it. Read it out loud. Now read it again without “that.” If the sentence works without it, delete it. Also? Don’t use “that” when you refer to people. “I have several friends that live in the neighborhood.” No. No, you don’t. You have friends who. Not friends that.
Accurate adjectives don’t need qualifiers. If you need to qualify it? Replace it. “Very” is intended to magnify a verb, an adjective, or another adverb. What it does is makes your statement less specific. If you’re very happy? Be ecstatic. If you’re very sad, perhaps you’re melancholy or depressed. Woebegone, even. Very sad is a lazy way of making your point. Another pitfall of using very as a modifier? It’s subjective. Very cold and very tall mean different things to different people. Be specific. She’s 6’3″ and it’s 13 degrees below freezing? These make your story better while also ensuring the reader understands the point you’re making.
The word means “causing great surprise or sudden wonder.” It’s synonymous with wonderful, incredible, startling, marvelous, astonishing, astounding, remarkable, miraculous, surprising, mind-blowing, and staggering. You get the point, right? It’s everywhere. It’s in corporate slogans. It dominated the Academy Awards acceptance speeches. It’s all over social media. It’s discussed in pre-game shows and post-game shows.
Newsflash: If everything is amazing, nothing is.
It’s a filler word and it makes your sentence weaker, not stronger. Unless you’re using it as a synonym for equitable, fair, even-handed, or impartial, don’t use it at all.
To read the entire list click here:
1 thought on “Words to Avoid”
Very helpful! thx