Rules for Life

When You Remove These Words You Sound More Intelligent

In our world, people have reverted back to cave paintings to communicate. Yes, emojis are modern day hieroglyphics. Hundreds of millions of people worldwide rely on memes and headlines for their daily dose of news. Everyone wants things said quickly, and shortened attention spans discourage the masses to read more words than necessary. We have put together a list of words to help you keep the attention of your audience, and sharpen your writing skills. When you remove these words you sound more intelligent.


“Honestly” is usually used to add emphasis. The problem is, including this word implies the rest of your words beforehand were not the truth. Everything you’re saying should be honest, right? You are not a liar, because liars are weak and fearful.


“That” is usually unnecessary filler. To check if it is required, find a sentence with “that” in it and read it back to yourself. Then, take “that” out and try it again. If the sentence works without “that”, eliminate it.

In addition, some people use “that” where they should actually use “who”. When referring to a person, use “who” not “that”.

Example: “I’m the guy that loves pizza” should actually be “I’m the guy who loves pizza”.

“Always, Never”

Absolutes lock you into a set position and sound a bit close-minded, which can open the door to criticism regarding potential inaccuracies in your stance. This will dilute your message and shift the focus onto proving you wrong, rather than persuasion. Always/Never are rarely true, though they can be effective for instructions, commands, math and science.


I “went” to (fill in the blank). Instead of “went”, try using other, more descriptive verbs like walked, flew, drove, ran, attended, etc. Because of this, you paint a more detailed picture for your audience, and it sounds more interesting.

INSTEAD OF: “I went to Hawaii last year”

USE: “I flew out to Hawaii last year”


Precise adjectives don’t need qualifiers like “very”. Very is intended to magnify a verb, an adverb, or an adjective. Consequently, it inadvertently makes your statement less specific, and better words exist to accurately describe what you intend to say.

INSTEAD OF: “It was a very long wait for our table”

USE: “We waited for our table an hour longer than we should have”

How long is “very long”? Very is highly subjective. Very tall and very cold mean different things to different people. Say “he’s 6’7” and it’s 11 degrees below freezing instead.

“Amazing, Super”

These words are overused and diluted. Realistically, if everything is amazing or super, nothing actually is, and all be equal. The more frequently you use these words, the less emphasis they hold. Reserve these words for the truly spectacular.


In formal contexts, “like” should not be a word you use to begin a sentence; nor should it fill a space before an adjective. Unless you want to sound like a valley girl straight out of ‘Clueless’, “like” should only be used in the following ways:

I like how they cooked the fish”

Would you like another coffee?”

My sister is like my mother…”

Like any good chef will tell you…”

There is something life-like about this doll.”


“Maybe” conveys uncertainty and detracts from your point. It’s better to live in absolutes and facts, and you’ll sound more informed. If you’re writing about conjecture and conspiracy, it’s understandable that “maybe” will be included. In most other situations, maybe is unnecessary.


Unless you’re using “just” as a synonym for equitable, fair, or impartial, it’s simply a filler word. Just cut it out. See what I did there?

INSTEAD OF: “It was just the nicest party”

TRY: “It was the nicest party”


Adding to the controversy, some scholars don’t even believe this is a word! “Irregardless” likely doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s literally defined as: regardless. You can use words to replace it, including “nevertheless” or “anyways”.

– Your Big Bro