08 Nov Bad words that must be banished
|Some words and phrases litter our emails, socials and even our conversations, getting in the way of clarity.|
These are words that should be banished.
They are placeholder words we THINK make us sound better, but are not. They are sentence clutter. Cut these words from your copy immediately if you want it to be clear, concise and to cut through.
Just boring. Delete just
You just do not need just. (This is one of my own downfalls … just this and just that. Just is a reliable friend that always reads well as I write it. It just reads badly when I go back and edit. SEE, I didn’t need just in that last sentence.
That which gets in the way must go. Delete that
That. If a sentence still makes sense after removing “that,” delete it.
That is a word that may feel correct as you type it. Except when you torture yourself about that versus which and which that or which which is correct.
Essentially, ‘that’ is a word that clients like to add back in to your copy because they believe sentences with ‘that’ in it sound smarter. They don’t. Clear, concise words always sound smarter. And sell more.
As a matter of fact, no
As a matter of fact. [As a matter of fact] We do not need this. The phrase is used to emphasise importance.
Good writers know the facts and make them matter without saying ‘as a matter of fact’.
Very. Useless modifier
Very. Like it’s good friend really, very is a slack and dull modifier. Find better words and you won’t need them.
“We really had a very big breakfast.” Blah, right?
“With two sausages, baked beans and three eggs, it was a big breakfast.” God is always in the detail. Let the detail tell the story.
Very, pretty, really, actually, basically … so many dull modifiers that are simply seeking smarter word choices so they can be eliminated.
Then, I fell into the then trap
Then. When writing demands explaining a sequence of events, it’s easy to use ‘then’ but better to use ‘and’ or bring the sequence to life using sharper word selection.
Using “then” frequently sounds repetitive and clunky.
“I ate a big breakfast, then pushed my chair back and then paid the bill. Then my credit card got declined and Poppy laughed at me, and then my cheeks flushed.”
Sounds better as “I paid the bill and my card . My cheeks flushed as Poppy laughed.”
Totally. Usually redundant
Totally. I was totally appalled. Being appalled implies totality.
You’re either appalled or you aren’t.