I love words, content, and all that good stuff. But there are a few phrases and other things that I really wish would just, well… go away already. They’re overused, they’ve become trite, or, sometimes, they’re simply wrong. For the sake of your readers, if you find your writing—whether it’s a blog post, ad, or email— suffers from the words below, it’s time to spruce things up.
In order to: To. Just say to. Word real estate is valuable, and you’re wasting yours.
Killer: “Killer content.” “Killer team.” I see this all the time on job ads where a “trendy” company is describing its attributes. Please, can we stop using this word as an adjective? Unless you’re an exterminator or Barry (HBO fans, you get me), keep this word out of your recruitment material.
Lean in: I may be in the minority here, but this phrase really gets under my skin. Part of it is that I don’t particularly care for Sheryl Sandberg’s book, which popularised this annoying phrase. The other is that leaning in has become so overused it’s comical. “Lean into pain,” “I’m leaning into my new role,” “I’m leaning into being an asshole.” I’d like to lean out, thanks.
I vs. me: This one annoys me because often people think using “I” makes them sound smarter, when in fact it’s grammatically incorrect. “Call Rachel or I if you have a question.” “This is Sam and I in front of the Eiffel Tower!”
It’s “me,” people. Me!
Tip: When in doubt, take out the other person from the sentence and see if it still makes sense. You wouldn’t say, “Call I if you have a question,” would you?
Sunday’s/Monday’s/any day of the week with a misplaced apostrophe: I am seeing this *everywhere* recently, including on paid advertisements. (Sidenote: this is why it’s so important to have a copywriter check your work, people!) An apostrophe does not make a day of the week plural, it makes the day possessive.
“I love Sundays.” Correct!
“I love Sunday’s.” Incorrect!
“I love Friday’s fun vibe.” Correct, because the vibe belongs to Friday!
That’s a great idea, but we’ve always done XYZ: Do you hear that sound? It’s the death of innovation and creativity.
Just: I am guilty of this one. “Just” is a filler word I find myself using when I don’t want to appear annoying or like I’m asking for too much. “I wanted to check in on the status of that project” becomes “I just wanted to check in…” The problem is that words like this dilute your ask while also sounding unconfident.
Interestingly, a very scientific study I conducted (I scanned my inbox) found that “just” perpetrators tend to overwhelmingly be women. I am working hard on eliminating unnecessary “just” insertions from both my written and verbal communications. Watch this space.
Are there any phrases that really set you off?