Overused Words and Expressions

We all have words and phrases that we tend to overuse. In our writing, we need to watch for repeated words. If possible, avoid using the same word twice in one sentence and check for repetition within a paragraph.

Often they are words we overuse in our speech as well. Some of mine were “maybe,” “just,” and “so.” But more than being annoying to the reader, what starts out to be only a bad habit can damage our writing in more serious ways. By using our favourite expressions, we add a chattiness to our writing that may or may not be called for. It also prevents us from searching for a more specific, suitable word.

If you know what some of your pet repeated words are, you could use Find in your Word program and it will take you to each instance of the repeated word. You then have the option to change it to something more interesting or to delete it. You’ll be shocked at the repetitions you’ll find.

Another method that is surprisingly simple but works well is to read your work out loud. You’ll be amazed at what you notice. You’ll make corrections automatically because what you wrote doesn’t “sound right” when read aloud.

Why not give it a try and read a page of your writing out loud?

You may find that some of your repeated words and expressions are clustered in a small section of your work. Almost in the same way that we get a song on the brain, so we have a word or expression that comes out in our writing almost without our bidding. Perhaps by the time you write another page, you have had a break, or a night’s sleep, and that word is no longer “on your brain,” so it won’t reappear until later on, if at all.

Many of the repeated or overused words are not even necessary to the writing. Try it out and see if you really need that pet word.

Some commonly overused words:

then, now, maybe, even, anyway, so, like, pretty, very, really, little, kind of, bit of, big, you know, would, nice, said, finally, at last.

There are many more, but we each have our own special expressions. We need to become aware of what they are. Then we must ask ourselves, “Is this exactly what I want to say, or is it filler?”


10 thoughts on “Overused Words and Expressions

  1. I used the word “though” a lot when I first started blogging, until a friend pointed that out to me. Since then, I rarely use it and am aware of every instance it pops in my head.

    I actually did the Word “find” test in my memoir for the word “very” recently. Initially, I was aghast at the result… until I added a space before and after the word. 🙂 While I used “every” and “everyone” heaps of times, the actual word “very” is only present three times in the entire 88,000-word manuscript. Not bad.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that must have been a shock at first. I’ve had that kind of thing happen. Funny story, actually. Reading your comment I remembered that another of my pet words, especially when I change topics in an email, is “anyway.” I still love “so” and “just.”


  2. As! I use more than I should, somehow It slipped past me. I, I, is dependent upon what point of view your pice is written from, and a tough one to remove, but I can and have cut down its use, thanks to this post reminding me to do a last minute check. Even reading aloud, (which I always do) can make your brain miss them. I, now use the word reader to read it; as well as myself. The reader is so monotone that repeated words jump and wave at you, making you aware and cringe.

    Liked by 1 person

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