Tag Archives: words to avoid

Thoughts About Adverbs

Hopefully, actually, basically, amazingly, fundamentally, surprisingly, significantly, essentially—these are all common ways to begin a sentence, and you can throw them out. My favorite story about “actually” is from a friend whose young granddaughter started many sentences with that word.  Her grandmother asked her what “actually” meant, and Nicole thought about it and finally answered, “Actually, I don’t know.”

Adverbs can be redundant. There is no need for a band to blare loudly. Is there any other way to blare?  Do you clench your teeth tightly?  Laugh happily?  Weep sadly?  Are you totally amazed?  Can you be partially amazed?  Isn’t that like being partially pregnant?

When you use an adverb, determine whether it is doing any work. Does it contribute to the meaning of your sentence? If not, cut it out. It’s deadwood.

Adverbs (novel)

Adverbs (novel) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Filed under All things having to do with the English language


Clichés were fresh the first few times they were used—but because they were new and interesting they caught on like a house afire and became overused and trite.


Cute as a button, cool as a cucumber, shiny as a new penny, hungry as a horse, fat as a pig—those are all old hat, very old hat.


The business world is riddled with clichés. Here is a list of ones to avoid; I’m sure you can think of dozens more. Send your candidates to me, and I’ll run them up the flagpole and see if they fly.




Needless to say


First and foremost


Last but not least


Few and far between


Get the ball rolling


The bottom line


At the end of the day


Fall on deaf ears


Fly in the face of


The lion’s share


By the same token




Don’t rock the boat


Sweep under the rug


The powers that be


When the dust settles


In the nick of time


That insults the intelligence


World class


State of the art


Cutting edge


Hit it out of the park


Back in the day





Filed under All things having to do with the English language