11 Weak Words that Dilute Your Blog Post’s Impact

Posted January 19, 2016 | Laura Christianson

When I craft a blog post, I usually write stream-of-consciousness and then set it aside for a few days (or a few weeks) to steep.

When I return to edit the post, errors in judgment, syntax, and word choice leap off the page.

How I edit blog posts

I start with the last sentence and read each sentence aloud, from the end of the post to the beginning. This method helps me…

  • isolate awkwardly worded sentences that don’t contribute to the article
  • note incorrectly used words and phrases that clutter the sentence

Today’s infographic helped me identify weak words I use in blog posts. The infographic recommends removing these words, but I don’t always do that.


Because blog posts are different breed of cat than, say, an article published in a magazine or newspaper. Blog posts are meant to sound conversational, and the occasional “really” or “very” is acceptable.

However, I don’t want weak words to creep into multiple sentences, so I keep this list on hand when editing.

11 common weak words and phrases

(Some are from the infographic, below, and others are my additions):

Really / Actually – These “crutch” words can almost always be eliminated without changing the impact of the sentence. In fact, getting rid of them will “actually” make your sentence stronger.

Very – A useless, throwaway word.

Things / Stuff – Replace with a specific word such as tool, point, statement, factor, quality, detail.

I feel / I think / I believe – If you say it, we know you think it.

Was / is / are / am – There are two schools of thought about using “to be” verb forms. One school says to axe “to be” from your writing, no matter what.

This is nearly impossible, since “to be” is the most commonly-used verb form in the English language. My “school” says: be aware of how often you use “to be” and replace the passive verb form with active voice whenever possible.

Replace, “The touchdown pass was thrown by Russell Wilson.”

With, “Russell Wilson threw the touchdown pass.”

That – My bugaboo. When I wrote my first book, I searched for “that” and discovered I’d used it hundreds of times.

I read each sentence and asked, “Does the sentence make sense without ‘that?”

If it did, I axed “that.”

Many / often – How many is “many”? How often is “often”?

Literally – When we use “literally,” we usually mean “figuratively.”

Amazing / Awesome / Absolutely – I hear these words in podcasts and webinars when the host or guest is hyping a product or service. I don’t see them as often in blog posts. Even though the words are absolutely amazing and awesome, they’re overused and have lost their impact.

Redundanciesend result, gather together, each one, advance warning, local resident, added bonus, completely unique, postpone until later, true facts, mix together, basic fundamentals, unintentional mistake, cancel out, drop down, new beginning, old adage… and my favorite: overused cliché.

Begin to – “I’m beginning to write my blog post.” Replace with, “I’m writing my blog post.”

Exclamation points – I know the exclamation point is punctuation and not a word. But this little fellow is used ad nauseum to artificially inflate the emotion of sentences in blog posts, social updates and e-mails. In Word, do a “find and replace,” and replace every exclamation mark with a period. Ninety-nine percent of the time, a period suffices.

What weak words bug you?

Please share words and phrases you struggle with or see in others’ writing.


5 Weak Words to Avoid & What to Use Instead (Infographic)
Source: www.grammarcheck.net

Return to Posts

11 responses to “11 Weak Words that Dilute Your Blog Post’s Impact”

  1. Janet Ann Collins says:

    When my first book was edited I just couldn’t believe at the number of times I’d used the word, just.

  2. Ooh, good one, Janet.

  3. When I had a friend edit my manuscript she circled all the times I used the same word in each article. It was amazing. Although I still have a tendency to do this, it is something I try to focus on every time I edit my blogs or articles

  4. This is such a helpful exercise, Marlene, as we have “pet” words that we use often without realizing it. Thanks for the tip.

  5. There is so much to become aware of when writing and informational articles like yours and critique friends who spot things are so valuable

  6. Drop down is used to describe menus in computer programs. It should be limited to that usage. Another redundancy is free gift. It is also the most effective sales phrase in use today. Most marketers will trade a redundancy (or other error) for increased sales.

  7. Joseph,

    In what context are you seeing “drop down” used? I use it as you said — to describe the way a menu on a website can work.

    Free gift is a good one, and I’ll confess that I use it. For the reason you explained — it’s an effective sales phrase, even though it’s redundant.

    Thanks for your comment.

  8. Carolyn says:

    I humbly suggest the word “about” as in “I’ve been working about six months.” It makes the writer sound uncertain. Even worse – “just about”.

  9. Carolyn,

    Ooh, I’m guilty of both of those. Thanks for the reminder.

  10. Susan Sage says:

    I use this as an editing guide every time I write.

  11. Great, Susan! Isn’t it nice to have a quick-and-easy tool at your fingertips?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *