Verbal Cliches To Stay Away From


Verbal cliches are particular words or turns of phrase that end up everywhere and repeated a lot. While there's nothing necessarily story-ruining about them, it's not a bad idea to try to avoid them for a couple of reasons: It makes your writing a little more likely to stand out from the crowd, and it encourages you to think in new directions. So here's a list of verbal cliches to consider dropping from your vocabulary unless they're absolutely necessary.



  • A certain
  • All of a sudden
  • As always/usual
  • Did I forget to mention that/Have I mentioned that
  • Is/are, in fact
  • Is/was your average/ordinary
  • Let's just say
  • Manage/managed to
  • Needless to say (If it's needless to say, don't say it. If you had to say it, it wasn't needless to say. Figure out which it is and commit to it!)
  • Not exactly/precisely
  • Oh, and
  • One day
  • Opposites attract (This isn't even true, not in the way people want it to be. People who seem very different can end up together, but it's not because opposites have some magical attracting quality. It's usually because of other factors that draw and hold them together.)
  • Random
  • Says it all
  • So, yeah
  • The male/female (Unless the story is talking about biological or medical matters, this just sounds really clunky.)
  • A thing
  • Typical (Especially when it's used to describe situations or characters that are not typical at all.)
Also, watch out for your own personal verbal cliches! Are there any words or turns of phrase you use a lot that don't actually add any meaning or depth to what you're saying? Or are there ways that you could rephrase what you're trying to say without certain words or turns of phrase that you often use? Do you have any jargon in your vocabulary from your job or a hobby? Challenge yourself to go without them for awhile!

You might also be interested in:

Commonly Misspelled Words & Mangled Phrases
A Proper Punctuation Primer
Alexis Feynman's Guide To Writing Better Summaries
How To Use Paragraphs Properly


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