Do You Want to Write Better? Avoid these 4 Words and Phrases

by Lynn H

As a professional writer, you know all the right words to use in your blogs, articles, white papers and content marketing pieces. But do you know which words and phrases to avoid?

Avoid these # Groups of Words and Phrases for Better Writing

1. Irritating words

By almost all accounts, the word “moist” is the most cringe-worthy word in the English language, even though it frequently appears on cake and brownie mix boxes. In a scientific study, 20 percent of respondents said the word sounded like fingernails scratching a chalkboard. They also found the words “slacks” and “luggage” irritating.

Pro tip: Avoid the sentence, “Grab the luggage, my slacks are moist.”

2. Unnecessary words

You know that one word you always add just because you really need to add things to a sentence? Take Kurt Vonnegut’s advice and “Pity the reader.” Adding unnecessary words and phrases makes your reader overcome a mountain of words to learn a molehill of information. Avoid unnecessary words and phrases, such as “you know,” “that,” “one,” “always,” and just about every word in this paragraph’s opening sentence.

Pro tip: Delete any potentially unnecessary word or phrase – if the sentence holds its meaning, the word is unnecessary.

3. Vague words

Avoid using “things,” “stuff,” and “some,” as you might know what you mean, but your readers may not.

Pro tip: Replace vague words with specific ones. Instead of writing, “the guy pulled some stuff from his thing,” for example, say, “Johnny pulled a ladybug out of his nose.”

4. “Be” verbs

Using “be” verbs, also known as “to be” words, weakens your writing. “Be” verbs are:

  • Am
  • Are
  • Is
  • Was
  • Were
  • Being
  • Been

Pro tip: Replace “be” verbs with active verbs. For example, change “Lynn was learning how to be a better writer” to “Lynn learned how to be a better writer.”

Avoiding these words or phrases tightens your work, making your writing more accurate and easier to read. For more information on words and phrases to avoid, consult with WriterAccess.

 

Lynn H has been a professional writer, providing exceptional content online and offline, for nearly 20 years. In that time, she has penned thousands of articles for doctors, universities, researchers, small businesses, nursing organizations, sole proprietors and more. She writes everything from blogs to white papers; her specialty is putting complex scientific concepts in simple terms. She specializes in medical writing, creating informative and engaging content for professionals in medicine, dentistry, nursing, pharmacy, medical manufacturing, chiropractics, optometry, emergency care, plastic surgery and others.


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