23 Words or Phrases to Eliminate From Your Writing Today (Infographic)

Avatar by Brendan Brown | February 11, 2019, 12:47 pm
William Strunk Jr. phrased it best in the must-have book for writers of all levels, Elements of Style:

“Vigorous writing is concise. A sentence should contain no unnecessary words, a paragraph no unnecessary sentences, for the same reason that a drawing should have no unnecessary lines and a machine no unnecessary parts. This requires not that the writer make all his sentences short, or that he avoid all detail and treat his subjects only in outline, but that every word tell.”

There’s a tendency to fill writing with needless words; this can bog a reader down in details, distracting from your message. Mastering the art of decluttering words frees you to effectively capture readers’ attention, sparking intrigue and affirming expertise in what you are writing about.

Whether you’re writing an essay, novel, or just an e-mail, here are some must-have tips to help you do just that…

Just as a drawing shouldn’t have extra lines in it, your writing should not have extra words or sentences. Every word should have its place, and not be diluted by unnecessary words that can distract your reader from what you are trying to get across. Have you ever read something that was so long-winded that you wished the writer just got to the point? Could you imagine if a script writer had the actors speaking extra words that didn’t add to the characters? Unnecessary words are not fun for anyone.

It doesn’t matter whether you are writing a novel, thesis or dissertation, a letter, or even an email; there are some words and phrases that you most likely can do without. For further help with grammar, you can always consult our dissertation editing services and academic editing services professionals to obtain advice.

We’ve gathered 23 of such words or phrases here. Let’s go through some of these words together.

Very, Basically, Totally, Essentially, Really

These words don’t add much to what you have to say. You can use more descriptive language to communicate your ideas more effectively.


This words is often extraneous, especially when you are trying to convey a timeline. If you see that taking this word away doesn’t affect your expression, omit “then”.

Each and every

In conversations, people use “Each and every time” when they are frustrated or exasperated, but “each” and “every” do not have to be combined to make a point. It’s either one or the other, take your pick.

Words ending in “LY”

A lot of the time, these adverbs can throw off the rhythm of your sentence. Instead of “She spoke softly” you can say “She whispered” or “she murmured”. However, if you really feel that a word ending in LY works, then don’t hesitate to use it.

Firstly, secondly, thirdly

How cumbersome. And if you had to go on through the digits, it can only get worse. First, second, and third works, so why mess with the simplicity?


Aren’t those advertisements for “Just Water” annoying? It implies that simply “water” contains anything other than water. The word “just” sounds informal and conversational in your writing. Do not add clutter to your sentences by adding the word “just”, unless you are using “just” with the definition “fair, unbiased”.


You can remove “that” if the sentence still makes sense without this word.

As a Matter of Fact

This phrase does not add value to what you are writing, but when spoken in a conversation, may add a bit of drama.

Past history/past experience

Use either one, not both.

As to whether/whether or not

“Whether” or “if” is all that is needed.

For all intents and purposes

This phrase does not really say anything at all. If you have something to say, just say it. You do not need to precede your communication with this phrase.

Due to the fact

Replace this clunky phrase with “because” and your writing will flow easier.


Be more specific. How frequently? Is it weekly, bimonthly, yearly? The more specific you are, the more descriptive you can come across.

In terms of

This phrase does not add value to your writing. It weakens it. You can refer directly to what your “terms” are. If you are saying, “…in terms of taste, the food was bland” you can instead say, “the food tasted bland.”

Personal opinion

When you speak of an opinion, it is inherently your personal opinion. It isn’t your friend’s opinion, or you would have stated that. Keep it simple.

In the process of

Instead of talking about your process, directly state what you are doing. It sounds more confident.

With the possible exception of

Why would you use five words when you can simplify it to “except” or “except for”?

The month of { }

We all know that the month that you are about to mention is indeed, a month. Sure, there can be names for humans and pets after certain months of the year, but I think we can read around the context.


This word is used very often, but doesn’t add anything but pretention. If you are looking for emphasis, there is a vaster vocabulary out there. Feel free to drop this word.

Many, few

Instead of being ambiguous, readers would appreciate it if you specify. It would show that you are clear and specific in your deliverance.

During the course of

You can drop “the course of” and keep the “during”, because “the course of” does not add anything of value.

All of

Unless the context specifies that all of something needs to be mentioned (for instance, if usually something is taken out) you can drop these two words and simply use the noun you are referring to.

Perhaps, maybe

These words of uncertainty can work fine in a conversation, but in your writing, it can cause a writer to appear unsure of themself.

If you simply want to focus on your expression and creativity, let the editing and proofreading experts worry about redundant/superfluous words, and write on!

Or if you want an immediate and free check of your writing, see our comprehensive review of Grammarly, the leading online grammar checker.

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