Stop Saying These 13 Words = Sound Smarter

Stop Saying These 13 Words = Sound Smarter

We all know that newspapers are slowly dying, emojis are reproducing faster than we can keep up with, & Twitter has expanded to allow you to utilize 280 characters to get your point across now.

People don’t have the time or the attention span to read any more words than absolutely necessary. You definitely want your readers to hear you out, understand your message, as well as be entertained, right? Here’s a list of words to eliminate to help you become a better writer and speaker.

  1. That – It’s typically a redundant word. Open any document you have on your desktop, & 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 city .” Nope. No, you don’t. You have friends who live in the city.
  2. Went – went to the meeting. Or the store, or to a conference, to Dallas, wherever it is you’re liable to go. Instead of went, consider drove, walked, ran, commuted. There is a number of ways to move from place to place. Pick one of them. Don’t be lazy & miss the opportunity to add to your story.
  3. Honestly – People use honestly to add importance. The problem is, the minute you say this particular statement is honest, you’ve implied the rest of your story is not.
  4. Absolutely – Adding this word to most sentences is superfluous. Something is either necessary, or it isn’t. Absolutely necessary doesn’t make it any more necessary. If you recommend a course to your team, it is essential. Coincidentally, the definition of essential is absolutely necessary. So there you go.
  5. Very – 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, maybe you’re depressed, miserable, even. Very sad is a lazy way to make 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. He’s 6’6″ and it’s 10 degrees below freezing? These make your story better while also making certain the reader understands the point you’re making.
  6. Really – Unless you’ve stepped out of the movie Clueless, there’s no need to use really to modify an adjective, a verb, or an adverb. Pick another word to make your point. And never repeat really, or very for that matter. That’s really, really bad writing. See what I did there?
  7. Amazing – The word means “causing great surprise or sudden wonder.” It’s synonymous with wonderful, incredible, marvelous, astonishing, astounding, remarkable, miraculous, surprising, & staggering. You get the point, right? It’s everywhere. It’s in slogans. It’s all over social media. Newsflash: If everything is amazing, then nothing actually is.
  8. Always & Never – Absolutes lock the writer into a position, they sound conceited as well as close-minded, and often open the door to criticism regarding inaccuracies. Always & Never are hardly ever true. Unless you’re giving written commands, find other words.
  9. Literally – Literally means literal. Actually happening as stated. Without overstatement. More often than not, when the term is used, the writer means figuratively.Whatever is happening is being described symbolically. No one actually “waits on pins and needles.” Why would someone do that?
  10. Just – It’s a filler word & it tends to make 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.
  11. Maybe – This makes you sound uninformed, unsure of the facts you’re presenting. Regardless of the topic, do the investigation needed to be sure, write an informed piece. The only thing you communicate when you include these words is uncertainty.
  12. Stuff & Things – These words are casual, generic even. They serve as a placeholder for something better. If the details of the stuff or things aren’t important enough to be included in the piece, don’t reference them at all.
  13. Irregardless – This doesn’t mean what you think it means, Boss Man. It means regardless. It is literally defined as: regardless. Don’t use it. Save yourself the embarrassment.

Whether you’re writing on behalf of your boss, updating a blog, selling a product, or finishing a college essay, you need to keep your reader engaged. These 13 words are a great place to start trimming the fat from your prose. Bonus? You’ll sound smarter.

Career Personnel is a recruiting and staffing agency located in Longview focusing on full-time employment for industrial, clerical, oilfield service and CDL drivers.  Keep up with Career Personnel online at, and make sure to check us out on FacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.


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