Quality over quantity. Oftentimes, short and sweet is key to effective writing! [Tuesdays: “Write with the Pen of the Masters”]
There’s a common misconception in writing that being wordy is better and makes a writer look more knowledgeable about a particular subject.
That’s not always the case, especially in the standard rules of business communication.
In fact, one grammar article published by news media website CNBC.com said that clunky and redundant phrases make a writer “pretentious.”
… and that irks grammar police and management teams the most!
Here’s a list of some overused words and phrases that bother business managers, clients, colleagues, professors, and others whenever they read one in their emails or DMs (direct messages):
- “3:00 AM in the morning/3:00 PM in the afternoon”
“AM” refers to the Latin phrase “ante meridiem,” which means before noon a.k.a. morning
So, when you say you woke up at “3:00 AM in the morning,” it’s like saying you woke up at “3:00 before noon in the morning.”
It’s the same thing with “PM,” which refers to the Latin phrase “post meridiem” that means after noon.
When you say you have work until “3:00 PM in the afternoon,” it’s like saying you have work until “3:00 after noon in the afternoon.”
Both statements sound awkward and redundant, right?
That’s why if you’re talking to someone about time, saying “3:00 AM” or “3:00 PM” is enough.
- “Absolutely essential”
When you search for the definition of “essential” online, the first thing that Google will show you is “absolutely necessary.”
That means saying “absolutely essential” is like saying “absolutely, absolutely necessary.”
Clearly, the “absolutely” modifier isn’t essential in this phrase at all!
When you want to emphasize the necessity of something, simply say “essential.”
- “Actual fact”
Let’s look at the facts of each word in this phrase:
A “fact” is something that is known to be true, while “actual” means “existing in fact.”
Putting these words together simply means “a factual fact.” If you don’t want someone to flag your statement as redundant, then just stick with “fact.”
- “At this point in time/At this present point in time”
These phrases are just a loooooong way of saying “now.”
Don’t give yourself a hard time writing or typing down these words!
By choosing to say “now,” you make your statement shorter, simpler, and more concise. Plus, you make your message more pleasant to the eyes of your reader!
- “Depreciate in value”
Depreciate alone means “lessen in value.”
So, don’t depreciate your writing by adding the redundant “value” to it!
- “Eliminate completely/Eliminate entirely”
Eliminate means “completely remove.” Therefore, this word can stand alone even without the help of unnecessary adverbs.
Besides, you can’t eliminate something partially, so you don’t have to specify how much eliminating you’re doing.
- “Combine together/Join together”
Take a look at this sentence:
“The company seeks to combine together two different approaches and increase sales.”
Do you think there’s something wrong in this statement?
Check out the phrase in bold format―“combine together.”
“Combine” alone means “to join or mix two or more things.” Hence, you don’t need to add the word “together” because that’s already implied. It’s the same thing with “join together.”
- “End result/Final outcome”
A result is at the end of something. You don’t have to distinguish it from a beginning result or a middle result because there’s no such thing.
Same with “final outcome.” An outcome means the way something turns out so even without adding the word, “final,” it can stand alone.
- “Estimated at about”
When you estimate something, you roughly calculate… so why add “at about?”
If you’re saying an exact amount or number of something, you say “exact,” “exactly,” or other adjectives that can properly describe your statement. Otherwise, you estimate. Period.
- “Exact same”
When you say one thing is the same as another, there’s no degree of difference between them.
You may say “nearly the same,” but saying “the exact same thing” simply means “the same.”
While some guides say it’s okay to use this phrase to emphasize the point that something is literally the same, it’s repetition and still best to avoid.
- “Favorable approval”
An approval is always favorable for the one requesting it, so there’s no need to add an adjective there.
If the approval is not favorable, then that’s disapproval, not unfavorable approval.
- “General consensus of opinion”
A consensus is a generally held opinion.
Therefore, saying “general consensus of opinion” is an overachiever in the redundancy department (if that department even exists)!
Consensus by itself gets the point across… and more succinctly!
- “In close proximity”
A synonym of proximity is “closeness,” so saying “in close proximity” has an overload of “closes.”
Even though this is a commonly used phrase, it’s best to just say “close” to avoid redundancy.
- “In my opinion”
There are times when writers use this phrase to differentiate facts and opinions in a single piece, usually in an editorial.
However, when you’re writing an article that is purely commentary, there’s no need to use “in my opinion” too many times.
If you just want to clarify that what you’re saying is your opinion, then just opt for the simpler “I think.”
- “In the final analysis”
According to CNBC.com’s grammar article, this phrase often comes off as “pompous and jargony.” Grammar police and managers don’t want that!
So, instead of writing 4 words, you can just write, “finally.”
- “Most unique”
This phrase frequently appears on grammar pet peeve lists!
Let’s find out why…
When you say something is unique, that means the thing you’re describing is “unlike anything else.”
There is no room for comparison, which is why you can’t have gradations of uniqueness like “unique,” “more unique,” and “most unique.”
It’s either the object you’re describing is unique, plain, or common.
- “Past history/Past memories/Past records”
All these words without “past” already refer to the past, so there’s no need for you to specify!
Unless you’re writing a science fiction novel that narrates a past and future history via time travel, it’s best to simply use “history,” “memories,” or “records.”
- “Postpone until later”
Here’s another redundant phrase.
When you say you’re going to postpone something, that means you won’t do it until later.
he bottom line?
Always eliminate “until later” for a more concise and less awkward statement!
- “The reason being/The reason why”
Let’s use this phrase in a sentence:
“The office was empty at noon, the reason being that everyone was at lunch.”
The example above sounds long-winded, right?
Unless you’re writing a literary piece or an article that requires flowery words, keep your sentences short and simple.
Write “because” instead. That is more straightforward and will save you more time in writing a single sentence!
- “Summarize briefly”
Last but definitely not the least on our list!
Summarize means “to give a brief overview or statement about something.” Therefore, to summarize briefly means “to give a brief statement briefly.”
Doesn’t that sound redundant?
If you want to summarize your points clearly, then drop the “brief” or “briefly” and just summarize.
That’s it! Simple, right?
Grammar is an important component in our everyday communications whether at the office, at home, or anywhere else.
Without it, our conversations (both written and spoken) would be awkward, redundant, and terrible.
We’d all have a hard time understanding each other!
So… if you want your write-ups to sound genuinely smart, do your best to avoid these overused yet technically incorrect phrases mentioned above.
This will not only benefit you as a writer but also your readers because they won’t find your copies too pretentious or hard to understand.
Take note of this list (bookmark this page if you like) and keep the items above in mind as you write your next set of drafts!
About The Dynamic Marketing Communiqué’s
“Tuesdays: Write with the Pen of the Masters”
Who doesn’t find content writing to be a skill that requires a lot of practice and effort?
In fact, many people may even find copywriting very intimidating.
However, you can be a good writer as long as you have the right tools. You won’t always get things right the first time, but with enough time and practice, you’ll get the hang of it!
When you write a copy for any brand or for your company, your aim is to make an impact and…
…to get people to remember.
Getting people to remember means getting consumers to buy your product or to avail of your service.
And when you get your content to deliver the results you want, THAT is a great copy!
Every Tuesday, we publish content based on tips and insights from the masters of content writing, copywriting, and storytelling.
Become more familiar with ways to write great copy that helps you gain ROI from your efforts, drive profitability, and achieve your business goals.
Learn time-tested tactics that better capture the attention of your target audience, and maximize the benefits of great copywriting.
Hope you found this week’s insights interesting and helpful.
Stay tuned for next Tuesday’s “Write with the Pen of the Masters!”
Head of Marketing
Valens Dynamic Marketing Capabilities
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