26 Weak Words to Avoid for Your Writing & How to Replace Them

Posted : October 24, 2022

Word Count: 1446 

( 5 Min )

If you’re trying to establish yourself as an expert, then you need to sound like one. But a poorly written story will have the opposite effect, even if it’s relatively free of grammar and punctuation errors. Hence, your writing needs to be on point, and your voice needs to be strong. 

What is the best way to do that? Don’t say something in 10 words that you could say in five. That’s what every unique article writer knows.

Start by writing in a more concise, direct way. In other words, go through each sentence you write and look for words you can cut that won’t hurt the flow and tone. Not sure which words to delete? 

Check out these 26 weak words you need to avoid in your writing. 

1. Like

This might be a hard one for some unique article writers – just think about the number of times you say “like” when talking. This is what’s called a word filler.

“This word may be more often heard when speaking, but it occasionally encroaches upon the written word,” says Write Right Words founder Erin Feldman.

2. Really

This is another one of those word fillers. However, the word “really” rarely makes a difference in the point you’re trying to convey and can weaken your statement.

The word “really” doesn’t add anything to your sentence—it just takes up space. Instead of saying “she was really upset when she found out she didn’t get the job,” say “she was upset when she found out she didn’t get the job.” 

As Ali Hale from Daily Writing Tips says, “It sounds as though you believe the other person is unsure of your intentions.” For example, telling your readers that your service is “really popular” instead of writing why your service is popular sounds like you’re trying to cover up the facts. You’re also missing the opportunity to express your thoughts directly and build a stronger connection.

3-4. Perhaps/Maybe

Remember, you want people to come to your blog because they regard you as an expert. By using the words “perhaps” or “maybe,” you’re planting the seed of uncertainty. Do you want readers thinking you’re only half sure?

5. Things

Using the word “things” makes it sound like you don’t know what you’re talking about. Instead of saying, “you need to watch out for things like phishing scams,” say “you need to watch out for phishing scams.” 

Be specific and avoid the word “things.” For example, a blog post titled, “10 Reasons You Should Buy a Home Now” is more actionable than a post titled, “10 Things You Need To Know About Today’s Real Estate Market.”

6-8. Amazing/Awesome/Great

This is a collective group of overused, diluted words. Express yourself instead of masking your thoughts with one of these weak words.

“How can something be amazing if everything is?,” writes Shanna Mallon for the Globe and Mail. Make your words matter by using these words sparingly.

9. Quite

The problem with the word “quite” is that it can have different meanings. For example, one person might use “quite” as a way of saying “exactly,” while someone else may use the word to express the word “almost.” 

It’s better just to leave it out, blogger Brad Cotton says. “This insidious word tends to water down the meaning of a sentence or, worse, make it unclear. To cut the confusion and add to the strength of your message, cut this word out.”

10. Literally

There is “literally” no point in using this word. Remember, if something is true, you don’t need to hammer home the point with a word like “literally.” 

Besides, using words like “literally” makes it sound like you’re trying to convince readers to believe something that might not be true. Plus, you’re making a stronger statement without that verbal crutch.

11. Very

The word very is weak. There are numerous synonyms for the word ‘very’, such as amazingly, awfully, decidedly, greatly, enormously, exceedingly, exceptionally

excessively, horrifically, extremely, supremely, and terrifically. You can play around with words to replace the word ‘very’ with something else, for instance,

  • He walked very quickly towards his mother.
  • He dashed towards his mother.

12-13. Basically/Actually

Also, avoid throwaway phrases such as ‘basically’ or ‘actually.’ Such words add nothing to the structure or flow of a sentence, so don’t ounch on them! Even complete antonyms such as bad and good should be used sparingly, as they tend to water down the meaning behind your thoughts. 

The word “basically” is another one of those filler words that takes up space without adding anything meaningful to your sentence. So instead of saying “basically, I’m just trying to say that communication is key,” you can write “communication is key.”

14. Stuff

Writing can be a tricky art form. While eloquence and precision are certainly key, so too is the avoidance of certain words. Some of my least favorite “party crasher” is the word “stuff”, which isn’t particularly descriptive and adds nothing but filler to your sentences.

You can replace the word stuff with the following: items, possessions, goods, trappings, junk, materials, property, chattels, or clobber.

  • I wish I could take a picture, but my camera stuff is back home.
  • I wish I could take a picture, but my camera equipment is back home.

15-16. Sort of/kind of

The casual phrase ‘sort of’ should generally be converted into something more specific and less vague. The synonyms for the phrase “sort of” (kind of) are: kind of, moderately, rather, slightly, somewhat, or to a degree‎. 

17. Try 

This is a weak word because it sounds like you’re unsure if you can do something. Instead of saying, 

  • I’ll try to finish that report by the end of the day, say 
  • I’ll finish that report by the end of the day.

18. Just

Then there are those pesky words such as “just” or “that”, which may seem useful at first but can slow your prose considerably when they appear everywhere.

Whenever possible, it’s best to remove these weak interlopers from your written work in favor of stronger language with more clarity​ and originality. This will help ensure that your writing remains clean, concise and compelling – something we all strive for!

19. I think

When you use the phrase “I think,” it sounds like you’re not confident in what you’re saying. Instead of saying “I think we should raise our prices,” say “we should raise our prices.” 

20. In my opinion

When you share your opinion, of course, it’s going to be in your opinion! There’s no need to state the obvious. Instead of saying “in my opinion, communication is key in any relationship,” say “communication is key in any relationship.” 

21. Literally

The word “literally” is overused and abused these days—to the point where it’s lost all meaning. If something actually happened, there’s no need to describe it as literal; just describe what happened. 

And if something didn’t actually happen, don’t describe it as literal! Otherwise, people will start wondering if everything you say is true or not. So instead of saying “I literally died when I saw that snake,” just say “I saw a snake” (assuming you’re still alive).  

22. I feel 

There’s no need to state the obvious with this phrase. When you share your feelings, of course, they’re going to be your feelings! Instead of saying “I feel like I’m never going to find a job I love,” write “I’m never going to find a job I love.”

23-24-25. Totally, completely, and absolutely

Have you ever noticed how words like ‘totally’, ‘completely’ and ‘absolutely’ can take away from the strength of your written message? Of course, if used correctly at the right time, such powerful words can be super effective in elucidating your thoughts.

Unfortunately, though, more often than not, these three words have almost become our writing crutches, getting tacked on to sentences when we feel our argument needs some extra oomph. Aim for concise comments where truly intentional words carry maximum impact.

26.  There was

Instead of starting a sentence with the words “there was,” try to rewrite it to put the action back in. The best way to avoid this kind of weak writing is to invest more thought and energy into your messages in the first place.

Conclusion

Strong words will create strong prose! Remember, all this takes practice – even veteran unique article writers make these common mistakes. But if blogging isn’t your strong point, leave it to the experts and contract it out. After all, “literally” half of the marketers outsource some aspect of their work to produce “amazing” content, according to the Content Marketing Institute.

 

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