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50 Overused words that diminish the content quality


You know that feeling when you read something and it’s so full of fluff that you almost throw up? That’s what happens when people use overused words and phrases that is not good for content quality.

Overused words to avoid that diminish the content quality
Overused Words

In fact, writing sentences that are too long and complicated can automatically make your readers tune out or change the subject in their minds. You can check my other blog post related to readability and flesh score.

You might not even realize you’re doing it: I certainly wasn’t aware until a fellow blogger pointed them out. If you want to become a better freelance writer then you need to be better at words like power words, emotional words, and uncommon words.

But now that I’m aware, I’m going to do better! So here they are:


A common word that should never be used is “very.” It’s a very common word, but also one that adds nothing to your sentence.

Instead of using “very,” try using something more specific or descriptive, like “extremely,” or even just saying what you mean directly (e.g., “I’m very excited about this!”).


You – If you don’t need to say “you,” then don’t. It’s that simple. You can often remove the word “you” from a sentence and it will still make sense (and sometimes even sound better).

Also, avoid using “I” or “we.” Realize that these words are not always necessary when writing about yourself or your organization.

It is

The words “it is” are so common that they’ve become an easy way to make your writing sound lazy. Instead of using it to say what something is or how you feel, try saying something else.

If you find yourself saying “it is,” ask yourself if it’s possible to rephrase the sentence in a more interesting way. If not, consider replacing “is” with another word or phrase that expresses what you mean better than “is.”


Avoiding obvious words and phrases is one of the best ways to make your writing more engaging.

You may find some creative uses for these phrases in dialogue or descriptive prose, but avoid them in any cases where their meaning could be considered self-evident.


  • In this case,
  • On the contrary,


  • A lot of
  • A large number of
  • Countless

These words are all nearly synonymous and can be used interchangeably, but they’re not the best choice in most cases.

For example:

“Many people were out for the long weekend” is better than “A lot of people were out for the long weekend,” Which is better than “Countless people were out for the long weekend.”

  • The first implies that there was a particular group we were talking about.
  • The second implies that we could only give an estimate of how many people there actually were.
  • And the third implies that our numbers are too big to even count!


This is a small word to avoid. It can be used in articles and essays, but it is not necessary on all occasions.

For example, if you write “I have lots of work” and then follow up with “however” it should be avoided because it does not add much value to the statement.

It is also unnecessary after an explanation or conclusion such as: “I have lots of work; however I am going to get through it because my friend was kind enough to help me out.”

When it comes to

I don’t care if you’re a minimalist or an excessive writer, this phrase is a real no-no. It’s not just that it’s redundant (it can be expressed in one word) but also that it makes the reader feel like you’re about to tell them something really important.

And then… nothing happens! “When” is just another adverb, so why would you need two?

As of late

“As of late,” “in the past few weeks,” and “recently” are all synonyms for “lately.” They’re interchangeable, but they’re also clunky.

Your audience will understand what you mean without them. If a word like “now” is what you want to use, it’ll be much more effective if you just say “now.”

Some words can be used in place of others because they sound better or more natural in conversation.

First second third

It’s important to note that these words aren’t always used best by their own authors. The use of first, second and third are usually used in academic writing when referencing the order of events or ideas in a text.

In other contexts, such as academic journals or news articles, it is not necessary to include these words when referencing something for the reader.

Should be able to

This is a common word to use in business writing, but it can come across as passive-aggressive and even patronizing.

A better alternative is “You could,” which is more direct and doesn’t sound like you’re telling the reader what he or she should do.

For example:

“You should be able to do this.” vs “You could try that.”


You should avoid using the word absolutely in your writing. These are overused words and come across as insincere, especially if you’re trying to sound formal or academic.

Instead, use more precise language and more specific words that convey precisely what you mean without sounding like a robot. To avoid sounding overly formal and pedantic, try replacing “absolutely” with another verb or phrase when possible.

“Absolutely!” is an easy way to say yes but it doesn’t have much meaning beyond agreeing with someone else’s idea.

If you really want your reader/audience to know how much you agree with something, use a stronger word like “Definitely”.

A lot (replace with “many” or “much”)

A lot: Use this word only if you mean “many.”

Many: Means “a large number of” or “a high degree of.” You can also use it to say that something is happening with frequency, but remember not to overuse it.

If you want to express the idea of both a large number and frequency in one sentence, use many twice in your sentence.

For example, There are many ways to use the word “many” correctly—you just need practice!


A word that used to be an absolute no-no, but has been getting a little more leeway lately. I’ve seen it in the New York Times and other publications of high quality.

It’s still bad, though—a word that sounds like a child describing his own behavior or appearance: “I know I’m messy and eat too much candy, but I’m actually a very good boy.”


Again is a word that shows up way too often in writing. People often use it when they mean “in addition to” or “also,” but these phrases sound better and are more concise: “In addition to..”,” Also..”,

It’s also good practice not to use words like “again” at the beginning of sentences.

The word “again” can start a sentence that sounds repetitive and is usually unnecessary unless you’re repeating something said previously for example: “I went back again to the store.”

All things considered

This phrase is commonly used to offer a balanced perspective on an issue, but it can sound a little too formal or even slightly condescending.

If you’re writing something that’s less formal, consider using “all things considered” as an adverb.


“Almost” is a word that can be used to soften the blow of a negative statement. For example, if you say “I almost never eat sugar,” it means that you pretty much never eat sugar (except for this one time).

Using almost makes the statement less harsh but still gives the reader an idea of how often you do something or don’t do something.


“Alternative” is a word that’s very frequently misused. “Alternative” doesn’t mean “something different from,” it means “one among two or more things.”

So you can say, for example, “You have a choice between taking the train and driving,” but not “You have an alternative to taking the train and driving.”

As a matter of fact (just say “fact”)

“As a matter of fact” is an unnecessary phrase that’s usually used to make the speaker feel more clever.

It can also be used to emphasize your point, which only makes things worse.

Instead, use facts that are actually factual and let them do the heavy lifting for you!

At this juncture in my life

  • This is a really important time for me.
  • I’m at a crossroads.

At the end of the day

At the end of the day, you want to be understood by your audience. Avoid the following words and phrases.

“At the end of the day”: This phrase can be used in informal conversations with friends or coworkers, but it’s not appropriate in formal writing because it’s too ambiguous.

What does “at the end of the day” mean?

  • The beginning?
  • A certain point in time?
  • All time?

If you’re unsure about why this phrase should be avoided.

Begs the question

Avoid using this phrase in formal writing.

The phrase begs the question is used to mean “raises a new issue that should be considered first.”

It’s not an error, but it’s an overused cliche and should be avoided in formal writing.

Believe it or not

Who are you talking to?

Use sparingly. Avoid it. Don’t overuse it.

It can be used as an attitude indicator and to show character traits but avoid being overly dramatic.

By and large

By and large, is redundant because it means “in general.”

Certainly or definitely

Certainly (we hope so!) or definitely (you’re sure?)

“Of course,” “certainly,” and “definitely” are all phrases that add nothing to your sentence. If you want to use these words in your writing, save them for the most important part of your sentence: The conclusion.

Close proximity (just say “close”)

This phrase can be replaced with “close” or even “next to” or “nearby.” This will make it clear that whatever was happening involved physical distance between two things: people, events, etc., without having to say so explicitly.

Close together (should be one word)

You can’t be close together because you will already be close! Replace with just “together.”

A lot

One of the biggest problems with the phrase “a lot” is that it can be overused. The word “a” is a definite article, so using it in front of a noun automatically makes your sentence sound vague and unspecific.

If you’re writing something like “I ate too much food at lunch,” then you can leave out the indefinite article: “I ate too much food today.”

Needless to say

Needless to say, this phrase is a perfect example of the types of phrases you should avoid when writing. Avoid any unnecessary words or phrases that take up space in your writing.

In terms of

In terms of is one of those phrases that can be confusing. It’s usually used to mean “with regard to” or “regarding,” but it often sounds more like a laundry list of items, rather than a real noun. For example:

  • In terms of cost, this option is the most expensive.
  • In terms of taste, the best cookie was made by Jane Doe.

Instead, try using more specific language so you’re not just listing off random things.

That said

For your consideration

To be perfectly honest

Going forward

Going forward, I will work on my relationship with my family.

Going forward, we will have to make some changes to our business model.

It seems that

The evidence points to the conclusion that

It looks like it’s going to rain, but we’ll see what happens

Absolutely essential/critically important/major issue.

We get it. It’s important.

Don’t use words like “absolutely” or “critically.” The reader knows what you mean: that the topic is very important.

You don’t need to tell them again because they’ll get tired of hearing this over and over again in every sentence they read from you!

If your reader gets tired, they will become less engaged with the content—and their attention span will suffer as a result.

Zero-sum game

if you’re an economics or political science student, then fine, otherwise delete

The term zero-sum describes a situation in which one party’s gain is exactly balanced by the loss of the other party.

Use “I” less often

Try to de-center yourself and focus more on what your sources are saying; you want your paper to be about the argument, not about you!


Basically, these are words that are used so often they’ve lost their meaning.

These words don’t add anything to the sentence they appear in and can make your writing sound boring and dull.

They’re also not very specific, so using them makes it harder for readers to understand what you mean when reading your text.

You should use this word only to describe something that is, well, basic.

For example: “The basic concept of this article is to tell writers what words they should avoid using in their writing.”

In order to

“In order to” is a redundant phrase, and should be avoided whenever possible. When you are writing, your reader doesn’t need to know what you did in order to get something done.

Just state what happened, and trust your audience will understand the reasoning.

If you want to give historical context as part of your writing, then use “As a result…” instead of “In order to…”

For example:

  • As a result of my poor diet and lack of exercise, my health declined rapidly over time. Until I finally collapsed on my way home from work one day because my legs weren’t strong enough anymore.


You don’t have to use the word “literally” literally. Even though it means that something is not figurative or metaphorical, you can still use it figuratively or metaphorically.

For example: “The man literally died of laughter.”

It’s a fact that

You may be tempted to use it’s a fact because you think it sounds more authoritative and factual. However, in many cases, it can be misleading or incorrect.

The word “fact” can imply something is absolute when it isn’t: if you’re writing about someone’s opinion, feeling, or belief—or even an assumption (perhaps yours)—you should probably not use this phrase at all.

Instead, clarify what sort of fact we’re talking about. For example:

  • It was my opinion that he didn’t deserve the award—but I was wrong!

It is also important to note that there are several different kinds of facts. Some are objective while others aren’t. Some are based on experience and others on research, and finally, there are those things we believe without any evidence whatsoever.

Consider where your information fits into each group so as not to mislead your readers unnecessarily with unhelpful language choices like “it’s a fact.”

I think that

This is a classic example of uncertainty. It’s better to just state your opinion outright.

If you’re still unsure, try using phrases like “I feel” or “I think that…” instead of this phrase.

At this point in time

“At this point in time” is an unnecessary addition to a sentence and should be avoided. It’s redundant, as it’s assumed that you’re writing about current events or the present moment.

For example, “I was 20 years old at the time of my first graduation ceremony,” versus “I was 20 years old at this point in time.”

For all intents and purposes

It’s too long

With respect to

Nobody likes a speaker who doesn’t respect their audience’s time. If you’re going to include a lengthy preamble in your writing, make sure it’s actually necessary and not just filler.

In fact, if you’re going to use it with respect at all, make sure that it has something to do with what comes next. “With respect to” is too often used as an awkward way of saying “about.”

These phrases have the tendency to be overused, and we should replace them with simpler words instead.

The overused words and phrases should be replaced with simpler words.

  • “Basically”
  • “in other words”
  • “I think that” or “I feel that”


Avoid the overused words and phrases listed above. If you do use them, make sure they add value to your sentence or phrase!

4 thoughts on “50 Overused words that diminish the content quality”

  1. Whether you believe in God or not, this is a must-read message!!!

    Throughout time, we can see how we have been slowly conditioned to come to this point where we are on the verge of a cashless society. Did you know that the Bible foretold of this event almost 2,000 years ago?

    In Revelation 13:16-18, we read,

    “He (the false prophet who decieves many by his miracles) causes all, both small and great, rich and poor, free and slave, to receive a mark on their right hand or on their foreheads, and that no one may buy or sell except one who has the mark or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.

    Here is wisdom. Let him who has understanding calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man: His number is 666.”

    Referring to the last generation, this could only be speaking of a cashless society. Why? Revelation 13:17 tells us that we cannot buy or sell unless we receive the mark of the beast. If physical money was still in use, we could buy or sell with one another without receiving the mark. This would contradict scripture that states we need the mark to buy or sell!

    These verses could not be referring to something purely spiritual as scripture references two physical locations (our right hand or forehead) stating the mark will be on one “OR” the other. If this mark was purely spiritual, it would indicate only in one place.

    This is where it really starts to come together. It is shocking how accurate the Bible is concerning the implatnable RFID microchip. These are notes from a man named Carl Sanders who worked with a team of engineers to help develop this RFID chip

    “Carl Sanders sat in seventeen New World Order meetings with heads-of-state officials such as Henry Kissinger and Bob Gates of the C.I.A. to discuss plans on how to bring about this one-world system. The government commissioned Carl Sanders to design a microchip for identifying and controlling the peoples of the world—a microchip that could be inserted under the skin with a hypodermic needle (a quick, convenient method that would be gradually accepted by society).

    Carl Sanders, with a team of engineers behind him, with U.S. grant monies supplied by tax dollars, took on this project and designed a microchip that is powered by a lithium battery, rechargeable through the temperature changes in our skin. Without the knowledge of the Bible (Brother Sanders was not a Christian at the time), these engineers spent one-and-a-half-million dollars doing research on the best and most convenient place to have the microchip inserted.

    Guess what? These researchers found that the forehead and the back of the hand (the two places the Bible says the mark will go) are not just the most convenient places, but are also the only viable places for rapid, consistent temperature changes in the skin to recharge the lithium battery. The microchip is approximately seven millimeters in length, .75 millimeters in diameter, about the size of a grain of rice. It is capable of storing pages upon pages of information about you. All your general history, work history, crime record, health history, and financial data can be stored on this chip.

    Brother Sanders believes that this microchip, which he regretfully helped design, is the “mark” spoken about in Revelation 13:16–18. The original Greek word for “mark” is “charagma,” which means a “scratch or etching.” It is also interesting to note that the number 666 is actually a word in the original Greek. The word is “chi xi stigma,” with the last part, “stigma,” also meaning “to stick or prick.” Carl believes this is referring to a hypodermic needle when they poke into the skin to inject the microchip.”

    Mr. Sanders asked a doctor what would happen if the lithium contained within the RFID microchip leaked into the body. The doctor replied by saying a terrible sore would appear in that location. This is what the book of Revelation says:

    “And the first (angel) went, and poured out his vial on the earth; and there fell a noisome and grievous sore on the men which had the mark of the beast, and on them which worshipped his image” (Revelation 16:2).

    You can read more about it here–and to also understand the mystery behind the number 666:

    The third angel’s warning in Revelation 14:9-11 states,

    “Then a third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, ‘If anyone worships the beast and his image, and receives his mark on his forehead or on his hand, he himself shall also drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out full strength into the cup of His indignation. He shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb. And the smoke of their torment ascends forever and ever; and they have no rest day or night, who worship the beast and his image, and whoever receives the mark of his name.'”

    Who is Barack Obama, and why is he still in the public scene?

    So what’s in the name? The meaning of someone’s name can say a lot about a person. God throughout history has given names to people that have a specific meaning tied to their lives. How about the name Barack Obama? Let us take a look at what may be hiding beneath the surface.

    Jesus says in Luke 10:18, “…I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven.”

    The Hebrew Strongs word (H1299) for “lightning”: “bârâq” (baw-rawk)

    In Isaiah chapter 14, verse 14, we read about Lucifer (Satan) saying in his heart:

    “I will ascend above the heights of the clouds, I will be like the Most High.”

    In the verses in Isaiah that refer directly to Lucifer, several times it mentions him falling from the heights or the heavens. The Hebrew word for the heights or heavens used here is Hebrew Strongs 1116: “bamah”–Pronounced (bam-maw’)

    In Hebrew, the letter “Waw” or “Vav” is often transliterated as a “U” or “O,” and it is primarily used as a conjunction to join concepts together. So to join in Hebrew poetry the concept of lightning (Baraq) and a high place like heaven or the heights of heaven (Bam-Maw), the letter “U” or “O” would be used. So, Baraq “O” Bam-Maw or Baraq “U” Bam-Maw in Hebrew poetry similar to the style written in Isaiah, would translate literally to “Lightning from the heights.” The word “Satan” in Hebrew is a direct translation, therefore “Satan.”

    So when Jesus told His disciples in Luke 10:18 that He beheld Satan fall like lightning from heaven, if this were to be spoken by a Jewish Rabbi today influenced by the poetry in the book of Isaiah, he would say these words in Hebrew–the words of Jesus in Luke 10:18 as, And I saw Satan as Baraq O Bam-Maw.

    The names of both of Obama’s daughters are Malia and Natasha. If we were to write those names backward (the devil does things in reverse) we would get “ailam ahsatan”. Now if we remove the letters that spell “Alah” (Allah being the false god of Islam), we get “I am Satan”. Coincidence? I don’t think so.

    Obama’s campaign logo when he ran in 2008 was a sun over the horizon in the west, with the landscape as the flag of the United States. In Islam, they have their own messiah that they are waiting for called the 12th Imam, or the Mahdi (the Antichrist of the Bible), and one prophecy concerning this man’s appearance is the sun rising in the west.

    “Then I saw another angel flying in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach to those who dwell on the earth—to every nation, tribe, tongue, and people— saying with a loud voice, ‘Fear God and give glory to Him, for the hour of His judgment has come; and worship Him who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs of water.'” (Revelation 14:6-7)

    Why have the word’s of Jesus in His Gospel accounts regarding His death, burial, and resurrection, been translated into over 3,000 languages, and nothing comes close? The same God who formed the heavens and earth that draws all people to Him through His creation, likewise has sent His Word to the ends of the earth so that we may come to personally know Him to be saved in spirit and in truth through His Son Jesus Christ.

    Jesus stands alone among the other religions that say to rightly weigh the scales of good and evil and to make sure you have done more good than bad in this life. Is this how we conduct ourselves justly in a court of law? Bearing the image of God, is this how we project this image into reality?

    Our good works cannot save us. If we step before a judge, being guilty of a crime, the judge will not judge us by the good that we have done, but rather by the crimes we have committed. If we as fallen humanity, created in God’s image, pose this type of justice, how much more a perfect, righteous, and Holy God?

    God has brought down His moral laws through the 10 commandments given to Moses at Mt. Siani. These laws were not given so we may be justified, but rather that we may see the need for a savior. They are the mirror of God’s character of what He has put in each and every one of us, with our conscious bearing witness that we know that it is wrong to steal, lie, dishonor our parents, murder, and so forth.

    We can try and follow the moral laws of the 10 commandments, but we will never catch up to them to be justified before a Holy God. That same word of the law given to Moses became flesh about 2,000 years ago in the body of Jesus Christ. He came to be our justification by fulfilling the law, living a sinless perfect life that only God could fulfill.

    The gap between us and the law can never be reconciled by our own merit, but the arm of Jesus is stretched out by the grace and mercy of God. And if we are to grab on, through faith in Him, He will pull us up being the one to justify us. As in the court of law, if someone steps in and pays our fine, even though we are guilty, the judge can do what is legal and just and let us go free. That is what Jesus did almost 2,000 years ago on the cross. It was a legal transaction being fulfilled in the spiritual realm by the shedding of His blood.

    For God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:23). This is why in Isaiah chapter 53, where it speaks of the coming Messiah and His soul being a sacrifice for our sins, why it says it pleased God to crush His only begotten Son.

    This is because the wrath that we deserve was justified by being poured out upon His Son. If that wrath was poured out on us, we would all perish to hell forever. God created a way of escape by pouring it out on His Son whose soul could not be left in Hades but was raised and seated at the right hand of God in power.

    So now when we put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), God no longer sees the person who deserves His wrath, but rather the glorious image of His perfect Son dwelling in us, justifying us as if we received the wrath we deserve, making a way of escape from the curse of death–now being conformed into the image of the heavenly man in a new nature, and no longer in the image of the fallen man Adam.

    Now what we must do is repent and put our trust and faith in the savior, confessing and forsaking our sins, and to receive His Holy Spirit that we may be born again (for Jesus says we must be born again to enter the Kingdom of God–John chapter 3). This is not just head knowledge of believing in Jesus, but rather receiving His words, taking them to heart, so that we may truly be transformed into the image of God. Where we no longer live to practice sin, but rather turn from our sins and practice righteousness through faith in Him in obedience to His Word by reading the Bible.

    Our works cannot save us, but they can condemn us; it is not that we earn our way into everlasting life, but that we obey our Lord Jesus Christ:

    “And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him.” (Hebrews 5:9)

    “Now I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away. Also there was no more sea. Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, ‘Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.’

    Then He who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’ And He said to me, ‘Write, for these words are true and faithful.’

    And He said to me, ‘It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. I will give of the fountain of the water of life freely to him who thirsts. He who overcomes shall inherit all things, and I will be his God and he shall be My son. But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.'” (Revelation 21:1-8).

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