Common Clichés and How to Avoid Them in Your Writing
Aug 16, 2022self-education
What were the last three texts that you have sent to your friends? Or which you shared on your social media page? Most likely, they all contained these common features:
- The texts contained new information for your readers
- The language was capacious, imaginative, specific, and, probably, with clever humor.
- These texts triggered certain emotions, grabbed your audience’s attention from the first sentence, and held it until the last.
With 99% certainty, those texts did NOT begin with the words “It’s not a secret for anyone”, “Everyone knows that…“, “As a matter of fact”. These texts did NOT contain a “to conclude with”, “indeed”, “for this reason”, “it is worth remembering that”.
So why are thousands of other texts full of such meaningless phrases, which only take up space and distract readers’ attention? Let’s talk about clichés in texts: why they are dangerous, some examples of the most popular clichés, and how to avoid them in your writing.
Why are clichés dangerous?
- Stamps and clichés are essentially speech errors. This often means that the text in which they are present cannot be considered literate.
- Their use unveils writers’ unprofessionalism (or their careless attitude to the readers).
- They create negativity in the audience. Now nobody can be fooled by “guaranteed results”, “democratic prices” and “maximum effect”.
- These commonplace phrases increase the so-called “water” content of the text.
- Texts with clichés are ineffective in many ways – bad for promotions, bad for building a relationship, detrimental for the informational value of any text.
Examples of some of the most popular clichés
Here is a small list of text clichés from various professional fields, including academic texts, social media correspondence, commercials, business, etc.:
- are especially popular;
- is environmentally friendly;
- the prices will pleasantly surprise you;
- take appropriate measures;
- in the near future;
- one of the most demanded;
- individual approach;
- it is well known that;
- it’s not a secret to anybody;
- wide range of;
- unsurpassed quality;
- qualified assistance;
- team of professionals;
- as soon as possible;
- for this reason;
- environmentally friendly;
- an important point is;
- pay attention to the following;
- it is worth noting that;
- it is worth remembering that;
- will save you time, nerves, and money;
- for every taste and wallet;
- high-quality product;
- at the best price;
- taking into account;
- by contacting us, you can be sure;
- and this is not surprising;
- it is not at all strange that;
- intuitive interface;
- pay close attention to;
- the most preferred option;
- proper quality;
- it can be concluded that;
- take into account the recommendations from this article;
- after all;
How to get rid of such phrases
Why are clichés bad in most cases? Because these phrases and words make a text ordinary, common, boring, and similar to thousands of others, kill originality and exclude emotions.
As a rule, some phrases, and words can be simply removed or replaced by synonyms by a writer, some clichés can be concretized with figures and facts. We do not urge you to remove them completely if they are really appropriate and the official style of text is demanded and preferred by the reader (maybe the reader is a part of administrative personnel, a diplomatic attaché, or a member of an academic board reviewing scientific articles?).
You can write without them. Try to paraphrase, replace clichés if possible. Or leave them, but in small quantities, and do not overuse clichés. After all, the text is yours, and how to construct it, in what form to present it – it’s always up to you.
In most cases, it’s enough to carefully reread and edit your text. Delete repeating clichés and try to find synonyms for those, which are left. For a brief and concise text – try to avoid clichés altogether. Remember, that clichés are only useful when they serve as connecting phrases between parts of large sentences and complex texts in general.
Is any cliché bad?
Not always, it all depends on the contents and style of the text. Language clichés and stereotypes are often used in official documents (such as diplomatic correspondence and political texts), and this is by no means a shortcoming. In those instances, the documents should not show the bright individuality of the authors. On the contrary, the more clichés there are in the document, the more convenient it is to use it. We will definitely start our business correspondence with the phrase: “Dear fellow colleagues..”, or “To whom it may concern”.
The repetition of the same standard phrases is a feature of the official business style. There are also scientific clichés (“as the professor notes”; “attention should be paid”; “according to experts”; “the theoretical significance of the work is due to…”), one cannot do without them in scientific work.
Clichés should be avoided in live speech, in journalism, and especially in narrative and literary texts.
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