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Want to Improve Your Writing? Cut This Word from Your Vocabulary

Amazing

Just saw a great movie? Watched an emotional YouTube video? Heard someone’s emotional life story?

There’s only one word to describe all of these experiences: Amazing.

Then again, maybe not. In a purely unscientific poll that I conducted by… well, observing the conversations around me, I have concluded that amazing is the most overused word in our collective vocabulary.

Even if there are other words that we see/hear more often, amazing has grown to represent so many different emotions that it’s lost all significance.

To put another way: a word that means everything actually means nothing.

A quick Google News search for the pesky adjective turned up 3.26 million results. That’s a lot of amazing in our headlines.

It’s time to put the word out to pasture.

Improve Your Writing — Places where ‘amazing’ should no longer appear:

Improve Your Writing — Words to use instead of ‘amazing’:

  • fascinating
  • astounding
  • breathtaking
  • spectacular
  • terrific
  • magnificent
  • unbelievable

If you’re looking for the right word to describe a situation, use the thesaurus.

For instance, this video of Google’s Project Glass isn’t amazing; it’s awe-inspiring.

And While We’re on the Subject…

A few more ways to improve your writing in 2014:

  1. Limit the use of definitely. Definitely is another word we have completely exhausted. Like amazing, it has become a filler term with little meaning. As much as we can, let’s resolve to eliminate definitely from our dialogue. Deal? Also, no more definately. There’s only one correct spelling.
  2. Easy on the exclamation points. An interesting article from PR Daily highlights our tendency to overindulge with exclamation points. Is the symbol appropriate in work-related emails? Sure, sometimes. Maybe at the bottom when you write ‘Thanks again!’ or ‘Have a great day!’ Like amazing and definitely, an exclamation point can also lose its intended purpose. If we put an ! at the end of every sentence, how does the reader know what really makes us excited?
  3. Study break courtesy of College Humor: 8 New Punctuation Marks We Desperately Need

Like this one:

Sarcastises

Amazing, definitely and exclamation points. If you commit to cutting back on all three, your writing will get better. How you communicate in casual Gchats is your own business, but consistency breeds success.

With enough practice, everything you write will be absolutely and totally ________.

Ah, what’s the word I’m looking for?

Oh, there it is.

Perfect.

(This content was originally posted at News to Live By.)

 

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More Stories By Shelly Palmer

Shelly Palmer is the host of NBC Universal’s Live Digital with Shelly Palmer, a weekly half-hour television show about living and working in a digital world. He is Fox 5′s (WNYW-TV New York) Tech Expert and the host of United Stations Radio Network’s, MediaBytes, a daily syndicated radio report that features insightful commentary and a unique insiders take on the biggest stories in technology, media, and entertainment.