Are you trying to hit a word count in your post? Or do you want to sound intelligent in your prose? Whatever your goal is, filler words or redundant phrases are not the solution, as they only lead to weak writing.
In English usage, redundant is usually defined as the use of two or more words that say the same thing, but we also use the term to refer to any expression in which a modifier’s meaning is contained in the word it modifies (e.g., early beginnings, merge together—many more are listed below). Think of redundancies as word overflows.
Remember these words and phrases to avoid, to better create engaging content and more interested readers!
What is Superfluous Writing?
Superfluous writing may include redundant phrases or tautologies. They can also be filler words that do not contribute meaning to the sentence. Writers and speakers recommend removing them because you will look uncertain of what you’re saying.
Whether you’re making a blog post, doing business writing, or trying effective email writing, your key message needs to demonstrate brevity and clarity. Superfluous words make it difficult for your audience to understand what you’re saying.
What are Unnecessary Words Examples?
Some unnecessary words to remove from your writing include in order to, really, a lot, moreover, always, stuff, etc. These fluffs will bore your readers and make your ideas more ambiguous.
Weak email writing differs from poor blog content, and I have a separate helpful list of email words to avoid. These words and phrases will result in an ineffective email:
- 100% more.
- Best price.
- Extra cash.
- Free access.
How to Reduce Filler Words in Writing
There’s nothing wrong with filler words if you use them sparingly. But too much will make you less credible and your writing weaker. Here are some writing tips that will clean your content.
1. Cut Out Excessive Words
Many amateur writers struggling to reach the word count resort to common wordy sentences like “a large number of” or “if this is not the case”. These terms only make your sentences less substantial.
- At the present time = now
- Along the lines of = like
- At all times = always
- It’s probably that = probably
- Due to the fact that = because
- In light of the fact that = because
- In the near future = soon
- With the exception of = except
2. Remove Words That are Hard to Misunderstand
Some words are challenging to understand or easily mistaken as passive-aggressive. These include, as discussed, just a friendly reminder, and actually.
3. Choose the Word with the Closest Meaning
English words have denotative and connotative definitions. Denotative meaning is the dictionary definition, while connotative meaning is the implication or emotional impact. For example, instead of saying thin and slender, choose one word with the closest connotation.
But… Every Rule Has Its Exceptions
Are there instances when filler words become essential to keep your message on track? Probably.
ver, furthermore, and additionally are not recommended because they only serve as clutter to your writing as they also add more commas. If you need to compress your explanation, these transitional words are acceptable. You can also use them when going into a flashback.
Another word you should avoid is just. However, if you need to emphasize the time, as in a short time ago, you get a free pass.
Redundant Words to Cut from Your Content
Here are some examples of words to avoid in an essay to make revising more convenient.
- Accell – The dictionary does not recognize the word accell or accel, which means to speed up. Use accelerate, advance, ease, or speed up instead.
- Actual fact
- Added bonus: A bonus is by definition something added.
- Adequate enough: One or the other will work.
- Administrate – A less common term for administer, which means to manage for the running of (a business, organization, etc.). Try the words manage, control, regulate, or direct instead.
- After having
- Anonymous Stranger – A stranger is already anonymous. There’s no need to form this noun phrase.
- Arm’s reach: reach or arm’s length
- ATM Machine – The letter M in ATM already stands for machine. Use ATM on its own or the entire word, automated teller machine.
- Blatantly obvious: Things that are blatant are obvious.
- Blend together
- [Adjective]-born: e.g., Brazilian-born, Texan-born. Make it Brazil-born or Texas-born (or Brazilian or Texan).
- Boughten – Boughten comes from the word bought and the suffix -en, like hidden. Instead of saying something is store-boughten, you can say it’s store-bought.
- Browse through: To browse is to look through something, so through is already contained in its meaning.
- But yet: As conjunctions (but not as adverbs), but and yet are synonyms.
- By virtue of the Fact That: Shorten this six-worded phrase by swapping it for the conjunction because.
- Central protagonist
- Chase after
- Close proximity: To be in proximity to something is to be close to it. Try close to or in proximity to instead.
- Collaborate together – The verb collaborate already implies togetherness since there is no way to collaborate if you’re on your own.
- Comingle, co-mingle: The verb mingle means to mix or bring together in combination.
- Combine together: To combine is to bring multiple things together.
- Compete (With Each Other) – The verb means to strive for something through establishing superiority over another person.
- Continue on: If you two words, try go on.
- Conversate – Is a correct word, but it’s often regarded as informal in American English. A good alternative would be the original verb converse.
- Critical juncture: A juncture is a moment made critical by a concurrence of circumstances.
- Critically important
- Current status quo: The status quo is the current state of affairs.
- (Current) Trend: Trend itself already means the current course or tendency.
- (Different) Kinds: The plural of kind implies the presence of diversity or variety.
- Doubtlessly – Doubtless is already an adverb even without the suffix -ly since it means without a doubt. You may say, “Doubtless, all of you will graduate this term,” or you can remove it.
- Each and every: Each and every are synonyms.
- Early beginnings
- (Empty) Space: Space already means an unoccupied area, so it’s given that it’s empty.
- End result
- Enter into: Try go into, or just enter.
- Equally as: Try one or the other.
- Excess(ive) verbiage: Verbiage is an excess of words.
- False pretense and false pretenses: Pretenses are by definition false.
- Far distance: Exception: when contrasting a far distance with a near distance.
- Fastly – Like doubtless, fast is already an adverb without the suffix -ly. Try quickly or swiftly if the phrase “running fast” feels wrong.
- Favorably disposed: To be disposed is to have a favorable inclination to something.
- Fellow classmates: Try fellow students.
- Few in number: Few always pertains to number.
- Final destination: Exception: in reference to journeys, especially airline flights, that have multiple destinations.
- Final outcome
- Final result
- First and foremost
- First dibs: When you have dibs on something, you have the primary claim to it.
- First discovered: Generally, something can only be discovered once, but there are exceptions—for example, “I first discovered bananas in 1979, then forget about them, and then discovered them again in 2009.” Alternatives: First saw, first encountered, first observed.
- Follow after
- Free gift: If it’s not free, it’s not a gift.
- Future plans: All plans pertain to the future.
- General consensus (of opinion): A consensus is an opinion generally held by a group.
- (General) Public: Saying general public is unnecessary because public means ordinary people in general.
- General vicinity
- Generally always
- Global Pandemic – The word pandemic describes a disease that is prevalent worldwide compared to an epidemic that only covers a specific region or location.
- Grinded – Ground is the correct past form of the verb grind, which means to reduce to small particles through crushing. Some informal meanings of the word include to rotate the hips or to work hard. Some consider grinded acceptable in these contexts.
- Historic milestone: A milestone is by definition historic.
- Humorousness – Some adjectives turn into nouns with a -ness in the end, like goodness, loveliness, and roughness. Humorousness is not one of them because its root word, humor, is already a noun.
- In the negative: no.
- In the process of: The meaning of this phrase is usually conveyed by the surrounding verbs. For example, we are in the process of moving could be just we are moving.
- Innocent civilians
- Interact with each other
- Intermarry, intermarriage
- Irregardless – Irregardless is only acceptable in informal settings. Use regardless instead.
- Join together: Things that join can only do so together.
- Joint cooperation: If it’s not done jointly, it’s not cooperation.
- Just exactly: Exactly means precisely or in all respects, and one definition of just is precisely.
- Main protagonist
- Manually by hand: Manually means by hand.
- Meld together
- Mental attitude: Can an attitude be anything but mental?
- Merge together
- Mix together
- Moment in time: A moment is a short, indefinite period of time.
- Most quintessential: Quintessential contains most in its definition—i.e., the most typical of a quality or state.
- Most unique
- Oftentimes – Use often instead of oftentimes to refer to the adverb in many instances. It’s also recommended to avoid this word when it’s not needed.
- Old adage: The definition of adage is a traditional (i.e., old) saying that is accepted as true.
- Opening gambit: but only when gambit is used in its traditional sense.
- Orbit around: Orbit means to go around (something).
- Outward appearances: Appearances are by definition outward.
- Overexaggerate: Excess is contained in the meaning of exaggerate, but overexaggerate works where exaggeration is expected, such as in some types of acting.
- Past experience: All experience is in the past.
- Past history
- Pervade throughout: The verb pervade means to be present throughout.
- Plan ahead
- Plan in advance
- Pre-plan: Exception: where pre-plan means prior to planning.
- Prior experience: All experience is prior (though people seem to love using this phrase in job listings).
- Proceed forward: To proceed is to move forward.
- Proceed further
- Proof positive: Proof is usually sufficient.
- Rate of speed: Rate or speed is usually sufficient.
- Really and Very – Your sentence will have the same meaning without these adverbs. If you want to accentuate the power of an adjective, use a better word. For example, instead of saying very good, try excellent.
- Reason is because: Reason is contained in the definition of because, and while the phrase reason is because is common, sticklers for this sort of thing say either the reason is that or it is because.
- Repay back: Go with either pay back or repay.
- Repeat again: This is redundant when something is repeated for the first time.
- Reserve ahead of time
- Return back: Try go back or just return.
- Revert back: either go back or just revert.
- Ridded – Ridded is a superfluous word since rid is uninflected in its past tense form. When you rid a person of something, you make them free of something.
- Sequential order: in order or in sequence.
- Shared commonalities
- Slight edge: One definition of edge is a slight advantage or superiority, so the modifier is unnecessary.
- Slight hint
- Software programs: All computer programs are software.
- Steady stream: Streams are by definition steady.
- Sum total: These words are synonyms.
- Sworn affidavit: An affidavit is a formal statement of fact made under oath before a notary public or other authorized officer.
- Thing and Stuff – Thing and stuff are vague and unimaginable to readers. Replace them with whatever you’re discussing.
- Unexpected surprise
- Up until: Go with up to or just until.
- Uphill climb: When climb isn’t emphatic enough, try uphill battle.
- Usually always
- Various different: These words are synonyms.
- Vitally important
- Was of the Opinion That: Transform this lengthy phrase into thought. If the group of words starts with is, say think instead.
- Well respected: If you want to use the word well, try well regarded or well thought of.
- When it Comes to: This phrase may be correct at times, but there might be opportunities when you can shorten your sentence. For example, instead of saying, “When it comes to mobile phone brands, Apple is the best,” you can say, “iPhone is the best mobile phone brand.”
- Whether or not: Or not is often contained in the meaning of whether, but whether or not is not redundant when or not is a necessary alternative to the positive option (e.g., “I’m going whether you go or not.”)
- While at the same time
- Whole entire: These words are synonyms.
Practice Compelling Content Writing
You already know which words to avoid in an essay, including tautologies and superfluous phrases. Some examples to remember include anyway, on account of the fact that, the thing is, general public, and orientate.
Aim to replace or eliminate filler words from your writing to have the clearest, most understandable prose.