by Barbara McNichol
Does your writing come across as arrogant? Are you using pompous phrases? Take a moment to ask these questions!
With the spoken word, we have the privilege of adding voice intonation, hand gestures, and emotion with our vocal cords. That doesn’t happen as easily in writing. You might leave readers guessing about your intended meaning and risk setting a tone that can be misconstrued.
To avoid confusion, drop the following idioms and phrases from your writing altogether. Not only will you convey your thoughts more directly, but your writing will gain clarity.
Do These Written Phrases Suggest an Arrogant Tone?
Question using the following phrases in your own writing:
- Not to mention . . . (then why mention it at all?)
- It goes without saying . . . (then why say it?)
- If I may say so . . . (it’s your writing; of course you may say so)
- I believe that . . . (it’s your writing; of course you believe it)
- In my humble opinion . . . (what makes it humble, anyway?)
- To tell the truth . . . (you mean you weren’t telling the truth?)
- To be honest with you . . . (you weren’t being honest before?)
- For the record . . . (are we in court?)
- Let me be perfectly clear . . . (followed by bafflegab)
- This may sound stupid but . . . (it already sounds stupid)
- With all due respect . . . (prefacing a negative comment this way doesn’t change it)
Which phrases would you add to this list? Share them in Comments.
One More: “In Other Words”
Another oh-too-common phrase to question is “in other words.” Why? Because it often introduces a clarifying sentence that follows a mediocre one. Instead of adding a sentence, go back and strengthen the first sentence. Then you might not even need a follow-up clarifying one. Test this idea in your own work.
Ultimately, you strive for clear, intentional expressions of your thoughts and beliefs in everything you write. Don’t let phrases such as these get in the way!