Words to Avoid

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One of my high school English teachers hated the words ‘put’ and ‘like’ with a passion usually reserved for religious zealots.    The word ‘put’ she said could be replaced by any number of better and prettier words and the word ‘like’ was used by ‘lazy’ people.  I took her lessons to heart and to this day I still resist in particular the word ‘put’ because whenever I try to use it with a sequence of living words it sinks like a lead weight. 

Since I love words and ‘like’ was not quite the ‘coolest word ever’ when I was in school it was relatively easy to replace.  If you have teenagers or know teenagers or hang out with teenagers because you are one or want to be part of a group for as long as you can then you probably use ‘like’ as much as you do your Apple gadgets.    Linguists will tell you that teens use the word ‘like’ not only as slang but also as a filler.   Fillers are a way we all stall for time when speaking.   Like ‘um’ or ‘ah’.  

There are many words writers are advised to avoid if we hope to create powerful prose.  We’re told to avoid words like ‘suddenly’ and ‘then’ and ‘that’ and my own personal favourite ‘very’ (Mark Twain said writers could substitute ‘damn’ every time they’re inclined to use ‘very’). I try to think of that when I want to describe something as ‘very interesting’ or ‘very hot’…

What word/s do you avoid or try to avoid? Was it because it was ingrained in you by a teacher or do you just dislike the word?

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3 thoughts on “Words to Avoid

  1. Ah, the famous ‘like’ – however it is prevalent on WPand Facebook. Even my writer-friends don’t get my reluctance to use Like. I have caved after several years as feelings were hurt.

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