For faculty and staff

Watch your words: 40 ways to improve your writing

When writing, how you say it is as important as what you say. The following word combinations and phrases often clutter sentences and create confusion in the meaning. Watch out for the following:

And also Redundant

And/or Outside of the legal world, this construction is neither necessary nor logical. Use one 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, the sentence will improve.

Being that or being as Non-standard substitute for "because."

Considered to be Eliminate "to be."

Due to the fact that Did you mean "because"? "Due to" is acceptable after a linking verb (The team's failure was due to illness among the stars.)

Each and every One or the other, but not both.

Equally as Something can be "equally important" or "as important as."

Etc. Provide one more example to suggest that you could have written more but chose not to.

Firstly, secondly, thirdly Number items with first, second, third.

Got Use "have," "received" or another appropriate verb in its place.

Had ought or hadn't ought Eliminate the auxiliary verb "had."

He/she Becomes obtrusive when used often. Pluralize to avoid gender-specific pronouns.

Interesting One of the least interesting words in English. If you show us why something is interesting, you're doing your job.

In terms of Can be eliminated without losing the meaning of the sentence.

Irregardless Non-standard form of "regardless."

Just Use only when you need it, as in just the right amount.

Kind of or sort of Substitute somewhat, rather or slightly.

Literally Generally used in a manner meaning "figuratively." Better not to use either word.

Lots or lots of Use "many" or "much" in formal writing. Remember, "lots" of something countable are plural and "a lot of" is three words.

Nature When used to describe a type or characteristic, eliminate "nature," ex.:  Movies of a violent nature are probably just violent movies.

Necessitate It's hard to imagine a situation that would necessitate the use of this word.

Of Don't write "would of," "should of," "could of" when you mean "would have," "should have," "could have."

On account of Use "because."

Only Look out for placement, e.g., "He only kicked that ball ten yards" vs. "He kicked that ball only ten yards."

Orientate or Administrate People become oriented or administer.

Per Use "according to," except in technical specifications.

Plus Misused as a conjunction, when "and" is appropriate.

Point in time Use "now."

Previous Use "earlier" or nothing at all.

So as to A simple "to" will do.

Suppose to, use to The hard "d" sound in supposed to and used to disappears in pronunciation; it shouldn't disappear in spelling.

The reason why Use "because."

Thru Use "through."

'Til Use "until" or "till."

Try and Lose the "and."

Thusly Use "thus" or "therefore."

Utilize "Use" will suffice.

Very, really, quite Intensifiers rarely add anything useful. Eliminate them from your writing.