Eliminating Superfluous Phrases

By Catherine Osborn

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In classes I have taught, students lean towards using phrases that they think make them “sound smarter” but end up making their work wordy and clunky. By streamlining your sentences and cutting out a few phrases, you can communicate your point much more effectively.

For example, here is a list of some that crop up frequently:

Needless to say…
If it’s so needless to say, then why are you saying it?

It goes without saying…
Same problem here; easier to get right to your point

For all intents and purposes…
Again, this could easily be cut and your sentence would begin with exactly what you intend to say.

In light of the fact that…
You could easily just say “Since…”

Clear concise writing applies to all genres and helps your audience understand your point without being bogged down.

Here are some quotations from newspapers that illustrate the cumbersome use of those phrases:

Payne, who turns 70 in October, will be succeeded by Fred Ridley, 65, a former U.S. Amateur champion and U.S. Golf Association president who has served as chair of Augusta National’s competition committee. The change becomes effective Oct. 16, although for all intents and purposes, Ridley is now in charge, taking over a vital leadership role in golf at a time of transition and challenge for the game throughout the world. – USA Today

It goes without saying that Democrats would view President Trump’s North Korean negotiations quite differently than Republicans, but I was honestly surprised by the strong negative reaction of Trump critics on the right. – USA Today

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12 Responses to “Eliminating Superfluous Phrases”

  • Krissy

    Great point. I call that lawyer-speak at work and I get emails like those all day long. Get to the point!

  • Daniel

    Yeah Krissy. Writing in a concise fashion is actually harder than people think.

  • Robert

    Applicable to verbal communication also!

  • Claire


  • Miss G

    I just stumbled upon this site by chance. And I must say, you’re doing a great job, Daniel!! Keep it up!

  • GSD

    Excellent stuff. Its a big thumbs up for you.

    I have bookmarked your site and you will find me a regular visitor.

  • Andy

    Great idea for a blog! I was starting to grow tired of the texting shorthand you see everywhere these days.

  • Mike

    It’s one of the cutest sites I’ve ever come across. Thanks for your hard work. Keep it up. I’ll certainly let other people know about this great site of yours.

  • verito

    my mind is different, because I belive that I have to many homework in my school but, I think that my mind is very big and I can do all the things that I want

  • daniy

    Languages were made to offer ideas and communicate it. Some people might think that long sentences would ‘look’ better than the short ones. Seems more educated I think. But, if it doesn’t simply deliver the message, then the language had lost its main content and purpose.

  • Val

    More or less, by and large, and in various and sundry ways, I would say that it does, indeed, for all intents and purposes go without saying that this article is, verily and forsooth, right on the money!!!

  • Corky

    is there a name or term for this?

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