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Words to Delete While Editing

Updated on August 28, 2016
rosaflorence profile image

R.D. Hayes is an avid reader and writer. She has written two books in the Dreamer Series on Amazon and over 2,000 articles online.

Parts of a Speech

Editing Your Writing

When I write a story, I go through five different drafts before I settle on a final revision. During this process, there are lots of words I use which could either be deleted entirely, or written to show the readers what I really feel. I compiled a list that I have been collecting for years from different books, articles, videos, and blogs of words that should never make it into a story.

This list will continue to be updated often, so be sure to bookmark it and use it when you are editing your content.

Key Note: to find the word hit ctl and F key to run a search for each of these words. I hope you enjoy and please comment below on any other words that can be added to this massive list.

Words to Delete in Writing

  1. And also: This is redundant
  2. And/or : Try using one or the other
  3. As to whether: Try using just the word whether
  4. Etc. : Using this is just lazy.
  5. Considered to be: Get rid of "to be"
  6. Basically, essentially, totally: these words normally don't add anything
  7. Due to the fact that: Try saying because instead
  8. each and every: one or the other but not both
  9. equally as: the proper way of saying this is equally important or as important
  10. He/She: just say one or the other
  11. firstly, secondly, thirdly, etc.: say first, second, or third instead
  12. Got: If it can be avoided, do so. Try the word must instead.
  13. Had ought or hadn't ought: eliminate the auxiliary had. You ought not to pester
  14. Interesting: this word isn't interesting at all. Use your visual words instead.
  15. In terms of: Eliminate this phrase if possible.
  16. Irregardless: Find a better word
  17. Kind of, sort of: try the words somewhat, rather, or slightly instead.
  18. Literally; This word is often confused with literarily and it is an overused word.
  19. Lots or lots of: Try saying many, much, or something a number instead.
  20. Just: cut this word if possible. Can be used as in Just the right moment.
  21. Nature: movies of a violent nature could be...violent movies.
  22. Necessitate: This is one of those words that doesn't do much for the content.
  23. Would of, should of, could of: you mean would have, could have, should have
  24. On account of: use because instead.
  25. Only: Instead of "She only ran twenty feet" say " She ran twenty feet"
  26. Per: Try using according to instead.
  27. Plus: use and instead.
  28. Point in time: "At this time" or "Now" instead
  29. Previous: use earlier or cut the word completely.
  30. So as to: usually, a simple "to" will do.
  31. Suppose to, use to: these words are spelled with a hard "d" on the end Supposed to, Used to.
  32. The reason why is because: this should never be a part of someone's writing
  33. Thru: through not thru
  34. Til: the word is until or till
  35. Try and: It is actually try to do something, not try and do something.
  36. Thusly: use either thus or therefore instead
  37. Utilize: try using the word use instead
  38. Very, really, quite (and other intensifiers) these words do not add anything and can be replaced with incredibly, insanely, fairly, a bit, or cut completely out.
  39. You: Do not use the word you unless it is in narrative.
  40. Some: instead of "there are some flowers in the vase...try... there are five flowers in the vase.
  41. over: Go over to the store. Go to the store
  42. Even: She even wanted to get some pickles. She wanted to get some pickles
  43. Down: He sat the chair down on the floor. He sat the chair on the floor.
  44. Start: He started to run. He ran.
  45. Begin, began, begun: He began to sing. He sang.
  46. Almost: He was almost a foot taller than her. He was a foot taller than her.
  47. Right: I'm doing that right now. I'm doing that now.
  48. Such: She's such a stubborn person. She's a stubborn person.
  49. Quite: It's been quite a task. It's been a task.
  50. About: Go to dinner about 8. Go to dinner at 8.
  51. All: All of the buildings were torn down. The building were torn down.
  52. Seem: He seemed like a loser. He was a loser. Better yet- He wouldn't hold the door for me.
  53. Very: The dog barked very loudly. The dog barked.
  54. Been: I've been hungry. I'm hungry.
  55. Only: He was only six years old. He was six years old.
  56. Real: She was real pretty. She was pretty.
  57. On: She sat on the chair. She sat
  58. Had: He had known she would stay. He knew she would stay.
  59. Out: He ran out into the street. He ran into the street.
  60. Off: He took his clothes off. He undressed.
  61. Up: She glanced up at her. She glanced at her.
  62. Being: I was being weird. I was weird. Better yet- I stuck my tongue at her.
  63. Going: She was going to break up with him. She would break up with him.
  64. Got: I have got to go. I have to go.
  65. Was being ing: He was running in the street. He ran in the street.

These Words Should Be replaced or Cut from Writing

  1. all
  2. almost
  3. always
  4. anxieously
  5. believe
  6. eagerly
  7. every
  8. feel
  9. finally
  10. frequently
  11. got
  12. just
  13. merely
  14. nearly
  15. need
  16. never
  17. not
  18. often
  19. only
  20. so
  21. that
  22. the public
  23. then
  24. unique

Endings to Watch for: Delete these words or Find Something Stronger

"LY" ending words- sometimes, not always, words that end in LY are -ly adverbs and are used to modify another word. These words are often referred to as a lazy man's descriptive words. LY words can be eliminated by using action verbs instead. "She went quickly" try "She hurried" . Action verbs allows the readers to create a picture using your words.

Example: She ran quickly.

Here is an exercise I learned; anytime you see these words, ask yourself to run quickly is to ____(run fast)

"ize" "tion" "sion" "ment" "ance" "ing"- Words ending with these can be replaced by something to make the sentence stronger.

Example: She came to the realization that hamburgers were good...could be turned into... She realized hamburgers were good.

Avoid Undescriptive Words in Writing

These words tell and do not show. Anytime you see these words, try to think of how you might explain the moment in greater detail, or words you could use in their place to be more descriptive.

  • walk
  • look
  • saw
  • heard
  • though

Filler Words to Delete From Writing

These words can almost always be avoided in writing. Try saying the sentence without the word in it to see if it makes sense.

  • that
  • just
  • really
  • very
  • quite
  • sort of

50 Replacement Words

Weak Words

These words aren't horrible, but they make your writing weak. If possible, replace them with a stronger, more descriptive word.

  • make
  • made
  • involve
  • involved
  • provide
  • provided
  • briefly
  • like
  • good
  • bad
  • nice
  • went
  • came
  • got
  • get
  • some

To Be words to delete: Passive Voice

These words should be watched for. These often make your sentences seem passive. This isn't always the case.

Example of Active: Who/Does/What

Example of Passive: What/Was Done/ To Whom

  1. is
  2. are
  3. was
  4. were
  5. be
  6. been
  7. being

Boring Verbs

These are not wrong to have in your content, but they don't paint a picture either. Replace these boring verbs with action verbs instead.

  • walk
  • talk
  • went
  • said
  • like
  • run
  • jump
  • yell

Linking Verbs to Replace:

  • Am
  • is
  • are
  • was
  • were
  • be
  • being
  • been

Helping Verbs to Replace

  • Has
  • have
  • had
  • should
  • could
  • would

Overused Words in Writing: Verbs to Avoid

These are the most common overused words that people use in writing. Avoid these when possible...avoid them like you would a cliche.

  • good
  • pretty
  • nice
  • big

Try replacing with words such as:

  • Excellent
  • lovely
  • kind
  • humongous

Vague Verbs to Avoid in Writing

  • said
  • walked

Replace with vivid verbs such as:

  • exclaimed
  • whispered
  • murmured
  • skipped
  • ambled
  • scurried
  • strolled
  • hiked
  • shuffle
  • tread

Napping Nouns should also be replaced

  • house
  • dog
  • car

Replace with these Nouns instead:

  • mansion
  • canine
  • dodge charger

Words to Use instead of Wish

Wish is another one of those words which is thrown around. If given the chance, replace it using one of these more vivid verbs. These words can also be used instead of "hope"

  • command
  • desire
  • aspire
  • crave
  • yearn
  • ache
  • long for
  • hope
  • seek

Words to Use Instead of Said

Said takes me back to grade-school... he said, she said, they said. Let's do away with saying said all the time and try out some exciting words.

  • screamed
  • cried
  • whispered
  • supposed
  • snickered
  • exaggerated

Final Thoughts

I hope this Hubpage is something that many people can use. If I forgot any words, please leave them down in the comment section and I will add them and give you a shout out in the capsule. If you haven't already, please subscribe and bookmark this Hubpage for later use.

© 2016 R D Hayes


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    • Kristen Howe profile image

      Kristen Howe 12 months ago from Northeast Ohio

      Great list of words to use. I have a similar list in my Self-editing hub and more. Here's a couple more words to add to the list--up/down/back are not needed and self-explanatory. Other filter words are to think, felt, saw, heard, touch, taste, etc. Great mind and hub do think alike.

    • profile image

      Paul 20 months ago

      I'm glad you created this list. It has made my writing a lot easier.