16 responses to “Exorcise these filler words from your writing and then don’t use them again, ever”

  1. Carrie Schmeck

    I think you hit the biggies. But maybe you should add “maybe.” 🙂

  2. Kathy Widenhouse

    Amen, Michelle! My pet peeves are qualifying words: “some,” “various,” and “a few” to add to those you listed. I discovered that I use qualifiers in my writing when I know exactly what I want to say. Weeding out qualifiers allows me to produce stronger writing.
    Here’s a post for readers about zapping those unnecessary words: http://www.nonprofitcopywriter.com/write-cleaner.html

  3. Rick Barlow

    On the subject of useless or wasteful words and expressions, allow me to suggest that “as well” be added to your list. It’s only in the past few years that we we have been assaulted by this expression, replacing the simpler “too” and “also.” I can only guess that people think they sound smarter saying it. But it is especially wasteful when given that precious spot at the end of a sentence, draining away the emphasis that might have served some much more useful noun or verb. And it’s plain comical (and a little stupid) to combine it with its synonyms, as I have heard some TV spokespersons do. “Also, as well, too.” Seriously. I have heard that in a single sentence. Nuts, right?

  4. Carol Cassara

    Good reminder. I sent it to my nephew, a young writer who needs to hear it. ;-)))

  5. Belinda Pollard / @Belinda_Pollard

    I’m a bit concerned that you’ve picked on quite a few of the things I really like to say in order to get my message across, and I think I’ve been doing a pretty good job, actually.

    Ha. 😉

    I slash these out when I edit someone else, but definitely use far too many when I blog. Must try harder. 🙂

  6. Marci Rich

    Michelle, this is a terrific article. I know I’m guilty of using filler—largely because I tend to write the way I talk. I’m printing this out and sharing it on Twitter.

    In the spirit of trading useful information, I’d like to share something I recently discovered when a former professor posted it on Facebook. “It begs the question” does not mean “it raises the question.” This is a common error of usage, according to my professor’s resource, the eponymously named website Begthequestion.info.

    I beg your forgiveness for raising the matter!


  7. Helen

    Michelle, this is a great article for me. I use fillers all the time, but I tend to blog in a chatty way and I wonder if you feel differently about the use of fillers then. They can make the blog sound more informal and conversational.

    I also wanted to ask what the aversion to ‘maybe’ is? It maybe that the word maybe is helps in the sentence! Can you give an example of why is shouldn’t be used. If it is definitely not the case then maybe is a useful word……


  8. Cathy Worthington

    I have students circle each “THE” from writings and determine when needed and when filler.

    Although not single words, but rather, phrases I cringe as a reader upon viewing:

    I believe . . . In my opinion . . . I think . . .


    ALSO, the writer may think about first person writing and third person writing. When writing academic writing, this is an important consideration.


    Many college students working on their masters come my way do not establish a purpose for their writing and do not establish a defined audience.

    Cathy Worthington

  9. Cathy Worthington

    Many of my university students use absolutes without supporting evidence in their writings:

    Always . . . never . . . all . . .
    everyone . . . no one . . .each . . .

  10. Jen Toyne

    Thanks Michelle.
    I was having a discussion with a client about filler words this morning and I came across your article while looking for something to prove the point!

  11. Raeynared

    I’ve got one to add. I, personally, think that people don’t need to qualify whether or not they are speaking on a personal level. Nobody ever says “I professionally” so why use “I personally”?