Plague Words

Avoid problems created by these words or phrases:

And also This is redundant.
And/or When this construction is used outside of the legal world, most of the time it is neither necessary nor logical. Try using one word or the other.
As to whether The single word whether will suffice.
Basically, essentially, totally These words seldom add anything useful to a sentence. Try the sentence without them and, almost always, you will see the sentence improve.
Being that or being as These words are a non-standard substitute for because. For example: Being that Because I was the youngest child, I always wore hand-me-downs.
Considered to be Eliminate the to be and, unless it’s important who’s considering what follows, try to eliminate the entire phrase.
Due to the fact that Using this phrase is a sure sign that your sentence is in trouble. Did you mean because? Due to is acceptable after a linking verb (For example: The team’s failure was due to illness among the stars); otherwise, avoid it.
Each and every Use one or the other, but not both.
Equally as Something can be equally important or as important as, but not equally as important.
Etc. This abbreviation often suggests a lack of clarity. It might be better to provide one more example, thereby suggesting that you could have written more, but chose not to.
He/she This is a convention created to avoid gender bias in writing, but it doesn’t work very well and it becomes downright obtrusive if it appears often. Use he or she or pluralize (where appropriate) so you can avoid the problem of the gender-specific pronoun altogether.
Interesting It is better to show how or why something is interesting rather than using the word interesting to describe it.
In terms of See if you can eliminate this phrase.
Kind of or sort of These are OK in informal situations, but in formal academic prose, substitute somewhat, rather or slightly. For example: We were rather pleased with the results.
Literally This word might be confused with literarily, a seldom used adverb relating to authors or scholars and their various professions. Literally should not be used in academic prose. Simply remove it from the sentence; the meaning of your sentence will not change. For example: The orcas were literally dying.
Lots or lots of In academic prose, avoid these colloquialisms when you can use many or much. Remember, too, that a lot of requires three words: “He spent a lot of money” (not alot of). (For a funny take on this common error, see Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half.)
Of Would of, should of, could of are incorrect. You should use would have, should have, could have instead.
On account of Use because instead.
Only Look out for placement. Don’t write “He only kicked that ball ten yards” when you mean “He kicked that ball only ten yards.”
Orientate The new students become oriented, not orientated. The same thing applies to administrate — we administer a project.
Per Use according to instead. This word is used frequently in legal language and in technical specifications, where it seems to be necessary and acceptable.
Plus Don’t use this word as a conjunction. Use and instead.
Point in time At this time or at this point or now will do the job.
So as to Usually, a simple to will do.
Suppose to/Use to The hard “d” sound in supposed to and used to disappears in pronunciation, but it shouldn’t disappear in spelling. “We used to do that” or “We were supposed to do it this way.”
Thru This nonstandard spelling of through should not be used in academic prose.
‘Til Don’t use this word instead of until or till.
Try and Don’t try and do something. Try to do something.
Thusly Use thus or therefore instead.
Very, really, quite (and other intensifiers) Like basically, these words seldom add anything useful. They are unnecessary and should not be used in academic prose.

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Exercises

The exercises below cover a variety of commonly confused words:

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