Words and phrases to give up for Lent

Words and phrases to give up for Lent

The Edit Part VIII

Continuing our series on good language, here are some words and phrases to avoid if you want your writing to stay lean, fit and sin-free.

Today is the first day of Lent. From now until Easter ‒ Sunday 21 April this year ‒ many of us, Christian or not, will try to give up a vice or pleasure. As with New Year’s resolutions, we start with good intentions and often we see them slip away.

Life can be tough without our favourite food, drink or tech – so why not keep the wine and give up indulgent, wasteful language?

Here are 15 suggestions for vocabulary you could strike out for the next 40 days and nights  ‒ words and phrases that take up space but achieve little.

Absolutely. A word that is almost always unnecessary

Additional. Use ‘more’. Longer words don’t mean better writing

Additionally. If you mean ‘and’, say ‘and’

Applicable to. Verb plus noun combinations are officialese. ‘Applies to’ is far nicer

At this moment in time. You mean ‘now’

Concerning. Try ‘about’ (unless you want to sound like a 1950s policeman)

For the duration of. ‘During’ does the job

Future plans. We don’t write about past plans. ‘Future’ adds nothing

Going forward. ‘Going forward we will’ just means ‘we will’ – the future tense is the clue

In order to. Says nothing that ‘to’ doesn't say faster

Initiate. Unless you are conducting a ritual, stick with ‘start’ or ‘begin’

Prior to. If you need it at all, ‘before’ does the job perfectly well

Value-added. ‘Beneficial’ ‒ leave ‘value-added’ to HMRC

Whilst. The only thing you are adding to ‘while’ is an extra letter. Think of the electricity saved

With respect to. Like ‘in respect of’ and ‘in relation to’, this is a long-winded way of saying ‘about’

Why is any of this necessary? Readers have less time than ever to read ‒ and more material vying for attention. Words are a powerful tool. Don’t waste them. Banish the waffle and jargon, and we will all be leaner, better writers.

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