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.