Word Pet Peeves

“There are just so very many little words that irritate me as an editor and reader” —and the previous sentence used most of them!

“There are,” “there is”, etc. can almost always be eliminated. Use forms of the verb “to be” sparingly.
The word “just” can also usually be eliminated. It’s just useless.
“So” can almost always be eliminated too.
“Very” is another word that accomplishes nothing.

The word “little” should also be used sparingly—especially in children’s work. Children don’t want to think of themselves as little, nor do short adults.

“That” is another word that can often be eliminated, but what I suggest you do is go on a “which” hunt. If the phrase sets off parenthetical material, [My dog, which is black and furry, ran down the street] then you use the word which. Whereas, [The cars that were parked in the back had trouble getting out]. Here, you would use that because the cars in the front had no trouble getting out, we would assume. However, you can eliminate “that” and “were” by saying, [The cars parked in the back had trouble getting out].

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