If you’re trying to win over your audience in any form of writing, you need to be as precise and convincing as possible. Fortunately, the English language has a huge range of words that convey meaning and elicit a strong response from the reader. But many people pack their dictionary away after grade school and resort to using the same old words day after day. We’ve compiled a list of the 5 words or phrases to avoid in your writing, and suggestions for alternatives. With these suggestions, you’ll be more convincing, persuasive, and passionate than ever before.
These two words are pinnacles of our daily speech and writing. We are comfortable using them to describe everything from how our food tastes to our experience at an amusement park.
- The chicken was really bad.
- The roller coaster was very scary.
- Our substitute teacher was really nice.
When we use very/really in descriptions, we ignore all of the amazing adjectives we have at our disposal. Why should we say really bad when we could say horrendous? Why say very scary when we could say terrifying? If you want to have a strong argument you need to be as specific as possible. Use colorful, vivid descriptions to make your argument stand out!
I think… I believe… In my opinion…
We’ve all been there. You’re tasked with writing a persuasive essay or argument and to kick things off you start with I think… You then carry on this style throughout your writing by starting each additional paragraph with another version of the same thing.
- I think everyone should travel internationally at some point in their lives.
- In my opinion, the United States needs more green energy initiatives.
- I believe that everyone should have equal access to education.
The thing is, if you are writing a persuasive essay or argument, then we already know that the contents are what you think, what you believe, and your opinion. You don’t need to emphasize this throughout the page because it is simply a waste of words! Omit these phrases from your writing and see how much stronger your argument becomes.
The verb “to be”
If you consider how you learned the verb “to be” in school then you know it includes am, is, are, was, were, be, being, been. These words are definitely a staple of our speech and writing, but they aren’t always the best use of our word allowance. When it comes to being descriptive, these words lack the information that adds insight and appeal.
- We were at the bus stop.
- The cave is dangerous during high tide.
Consider how you might structure these sentences with a stronger verb, or a verb/adverb combination.
- We waited impatiently at the bus stop.
- The cave becomes a dangerous trap for explorers at high tide.
With an enormous range of verbs at your disposal, consider with each sentence if you can replace the verb to be with a more descriptive option.
Not the worst offenders but definitely worth mentioning, always and never are not the best choice for your argument. If you always use these words, then people will never believe that you are being sincere.
There are myriads of other options that can get the point across without the potential to catch you in a lie. Does it always rain in Portland? Are you never tired of eating pizza?
Next time, consider these:
- All the time
- Not often
- Almost never
Similar to the pair before them, all/every creates problems for your argument over time. In writing a persuasive essay, you want to use specific words that support your claim. The issue with all/every is that they are unspecific, or they lead the reader to believe that you are making blanket statements.
- Every seat in the stadium was taken.
- All of the children sat and listened.
First, consider if your sentence is true. If it is, consider a way to omit all/every.
- The game was sold out.
- Ten children sat silently and listened to the teacher.
Omit these words from your next argument or persuasive essay, and prepare for a stronger message and a better response from your audience!