Little Book of Confusables

Ditch these four words from your writing – and instantly improve your impact

Want your writing to have more impact? Ditch these four words… 

Just as we pepper our speech with filler words like UM, LIKE, SO, and BASICALLY, we do the same with our writing – often without even realising.

Here are four words to ditch from your writing to improve your impact and clarity.


REALLY and VERY are called qualifiers.

They may feel like they’re strengthening your message, but they usually have the opposite effect.

To void using two words where you can use one.

Try swapping:




You get the picture.

This quote from Dead Poets’ Society sums it up nicely:

“Avoid using the word VERY because it’s lazy. A man is not VERY tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use VERY sad, use morose.”

If you can’t think of a stronger word, take out VERY or REALLY.


Tune into this one and you’ll be amazed how often you use it.

It’s particularly prevalent in emails:

❌ “I’m JUST checking to see how you got on with my quote.”

✅ “I’m checking to see how you got on with my quote.”

❌ “I’ll JUST leave it with you.”

✅ “I’ll leave it with you.”

❌ “JUST let me know what you think.”

✅ “Let me know what you think.”

Ditch it. You’ll instantly sound more confident and impactful.


Finally, THAT – a filler word that’s often unnecessary.

If the sentence makes sense without the word THAT, delete it.

❌ “I checked THAT the document was approved.”

✅ “I checked the document was approved.”

❌ “She told me THAT it was great.”

✅ “She told me it was great.”

❌ “The website copy THAT you wrote for me.”

✅ “The website copy you wrote for me.”

Which of these filler words are you guilty of overusing? And what other filler words would you add to the ditch list to improve your impact?

The Little Book of Confusables by Sarah Townsend

No more confusing words!

Master 600 confusing words with The Little Book of Confusables: 300 gorgeous pages packed with memorable, fun spelling tips – from ACCEPT + EXCEPT to YOUNG + YOUTHFUL.

Loved by writers everywhere, this multi-award-winning guide has been described as The perfect book for anyone who ever has to write anything!”.


Your fun guide to confusing words
The Little Book of Confusables
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