Book Writing,  Editing,  List

Growing List of Filler Words and Words to Delete

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Filler words do nothing for your writing. A sentence is stronger without filler words. This list is the main filler words we use while writing which can be deleted or replaced to make the sentence stronger.

Filler words include the overuse of adverbs and adjectives, especially in creative writing. Using these words, listed below, tell more than show.

  • Just: This is the most common filler word I see amongst writers. “I just can’t believe he ate the last cookie”. It rarely adds meaning to a sentence and should be cut.
  • So: It’s often used to describe the quality of something. “She is so going to pay for this!”
  • Very: I also use this to describe the quality of something. “She is very annoying.” As Mark Twain once said, “Substitute “damn” every time you’re inclined to write “very”; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”
  • Really: Really is used the same way So and Just are. “She is really annoying.”
  • Even: Delete.
  • That: That is used to connect two words but, it is unnecessary. This filler word is tricky since there are sentences which need it to make sense. Read the sentence with “that” in it, and read it again without. Keep whichever makes sense.
  • And Then or And So: The story should continue without these words. If the story cannot unfold without them, revisit the story plot. We use these two words to show progression.
  • But, However, Yet: It’s a conjunction that joins phrases within a single sentence. These aren’t needed and we can rewrite the sentence.
  • Of: This isn’t always required. Example: off of, outside of, clear of.
  • Some: Vague wording
  • Like: As in “Like, why am I here?” Get rid of it.
  • Literally: Do not use this word no matter how much you think it will heighten your writing. I cringe when someone uses this word incorrectly, especially when most sentences don’t need it.
  • Quite: We can leave this out most of the time and the sentence re-written for a clearer picture. For example, “She had quite a few pairs of shoes. I can write ” as, “She had eleven pairs of dress shoes.” It’s more precise in the second sentence.
  • Rather: This is the same as quite. We don’t need it.
  • Perhaps: I can raise my hand to this one; I’m guilty of writing it. Perhaps shows uncertainty and we can delete it.
  • In Order: This is a redundant filler. “He went to the football game in
     to watch the Oklahoma Sooners.” We can replace this with “to”.
  • Actually: Why do we actually need this word?
  • Stuff: This is a vague word which you can replace with something more specific.
  • Then: This word needs deleting if used as a filler word. For example, Jack and Jill ran up the hill
    then fell back down – Jack and Jill ran up the hill and fell down.
  • Absolutely, Certainly, Completely, Definitely, Basically, Actually: Most of these should be deleted. Example; I completely agree with Jones. – I agree with Jones.
  • All of the: Instead we can use “all the”. Example; All of the kids ate ice cream. – All the kids ate ice cream.
  • As to Whether: We use “whether” instead. Example; She was uncertain as to whether she would attend her cousin’s wedding. – She was uncertain whether she would attend her cousin’s wedding.
  • At all Times: You can delete this if you are stating a fact. For example; You must follow these rules at all times. – You must follow these rules.
  • Commonly: Delete if stating a general fact. For Example; People once commonly used Myspace instead of Facebook. – People once used Myspace instead of Facebook.
  • Due to the fact that: The best way to delete this is to revise the sentence using stronger verbs. Another way is to use “because” instead. Example; Due to the fact that he was late for his court mandated meeting, the judge ordered his bail revoked. – He was late for his court mandated meeting, so the judge ordered his bail revoked.
  • For all intents and purposes: Delete this and you should be able to keep the rest of the sentence as is.
  • For the purpose of: Us the “to + verb”. Example; For the purpose of creating a new program, we need to… – To create a new program, we need to…
  • Has the ability to: Use can instead. Example; Lauren has the ability to use her photographic memory to gain access to files. – Lauren can use her photographic memory to gain access to files.
  • I/We believe; In my/our opinion: Delete unless the sentence is unclear without them.
  • In spite of the fact that: Instead, use “despite” or “although”.
  • In terms of: Delete and revise or use “about” or “regarding”.
  • In the event that: Use “if” instead.
  • In the process of: Depending on the context, use “while” or “when”.
  • In order to: Use “to”.
  • It is important to note: Delete. As one blogger said, “if it wasn’t important, you wouldn’t be writing it.”
  • It is possible that: Use “can”, “could”, “may”, or “might”.
  • Needless to say: Like most of these filler words, delete.
  • The fact that: Delete and rewrite.
  • There/Here/It is/There has/Have been: we should use Stronger active subject/verbs in their place. These distract from the main point. These are lazy words and we should not start a sentence with them.
  • A lot of: Get rid of this. Example: Descriptive writing means to pack a lot of maximum meaning into few words.
  • A bit: Delete and rewrite. How much is a bit? Is it an hour, a few days, months? Be specific.
  • Currently: Delete. Example: She is currently playing on the trampoline. – She is playing on the trampoline.
  • Got: Replace this boring verb with something better.
  • Here: Show me where “here” is. “Here” is a redundant word if you’ve already established where “here” is.
  • Much: replace or get rid of.
  • Now: The same as currently. If we have stated something is ongoing, there is no need to include this word.
  • Pretty: As in, The girls were pretty close to the street. Delete it.
  • Simply: Delete and/or reword.
  • Stuff: What “stuff” are you writing about? Be specific.
  • Things: What things?
  • Only: She was only
    trying to win the race.
  • Almost/Slightly/Seemed: These words make for a boring read. Using these words makes the reader think that something isn’t what you said they were. For instance; “She seemed fine with him leaving”. Reads as; “She wasn’t fine with him leaving”.
  • Maybe/Somehow: Delete this.
  • Sort of/ Kind of/ A little: Readers want to be sure of something and they want it all, not just a little. Example; She sort of hurt her hand. – She hurt her hand.
  • Meet with: meet
  • Sold off: sold
  • Cutbacks: Cuts
  • The time around: the time
  • Top Politician: politician
  • Mayor speech; speech
  • Executive summary: summary
  • Role Model: Model
  • Safe Haven: Haven
  • Most Especially: especially
  • Start/ Begin/ Began/ Begun: Delete these unless there is an interruption to the action.
  • Said/ Replied/ Asked/ and any dialogue tag: Dialogue slow the pacing and distract from the conversation. These tags can be used for the first couple of sentences, but it is best to drop them once it establishes the conversation. For example; “I don’t know what to do,” said Jerry. – Jerry frowned at passing cars. “I don’t know what to do.” : “Stay calm,” said Lauren. “You’ll figure this out.”- “Stay calm.” Lauren smashed her cigarette into the ground. “You’ll figure it out.”
  • Down/ Up: these are unnecessary. For instance; Lisa sat down on the chair.
  • Wonder/ Ponder/ Think/ Thought/ Feel/ Felt/ Understand: These are useless words. They lead into telling rather than showing. For instance; “I wondered if Jerry was the mole.” – “Was Jerry the mole?”
  • Breath/ Breathe/ Inhale/ Exhale: These words are boring words. Try to find another word instead.
  • Shrug/ Nod/ Reach: Like those words above, these are often repeated throughout a story. Try refreshing words to keep your reader from snoozing.
  • Each time: use “when” instead.



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