Extra: Trimming the Fat
There are many words and phrases that can usually be deleted from your essay without any loss of meaning. Just as an athlete needs to work off the fat in order to perform well, your writing needs to stay lean in order to pack more meaning into every sentence. Extra words rob your prose of energy by making your language convoluted and just plain fluffy (also known in some circles as “bull” or a stronger variant). The following phrases are especially fattening because they invite passive constructions, those that employ the verb, “to be.”
I believe that, I feel that, I hope that, I think that, I realized that, I learned that, in other words, in order to, in fact, it is essential that, it is important to see that, the reason why, the thing that is most important is, this is important because, this means that, the point is that, really, very, somewhat, absolutely, definitely, surely, truly, probably, practically, hopefully, in conclusion, in summary.
Also look for subtle redundancies of the “X and Y” variety. Only a few examples of the many are provided below. In each pair, the two words mean nearly the same thing — so why write both? Such redundancies show the reader that you are not thinking about what you are saying. And, the more cliched phrases make your essay sound like all of the others. Instead of resorting to these sinister twins, think of more precise language, words that really pin down your unique experience.
Hard work and effort, teamwork and cooperation, dreams and aspirations, personal growth and development, determination and diligence, challenges and difficulties, objectives and goals, worries and concerns, love and caring.