Words to Avoid in Essay Writing

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Good writing can be a boring and exhausting task that seems to last an eternity. But how many times have you put your heart and soul into an essay just to receive a poor grade? Like so many learners, you were probably guilty of adding terms that completely destroyed your professional appearance and argument’s strength.

Many words and phrases that we often use in colloquial speech or informal writing are seen as unsuitable for academic writing. We should avoid using them when writing a dissertation, thesis, essay, or research paper. The use of these terms adds an informal tone to your writing.

Avoid using overly colloquial, unsophisticated, unclear, exaggerated, or subjective terms, as well as those that are typically inappropriate or incorrect. However, keep in mind that these rules do not apply to content where you are explicitly citing a particular source (including interviews).

In formal school essays, some terms and expressions should be omitted. These terms and expressions may be fine for everyday communication, but they should be avoided in academic writing. To remember them better, let’s divide these words into 3 groups:

  • Group 1: Exaggerated Words to Avoid in Your Essay
  • Group 2: Redundant Words to Avoid in Your Essay
  • Group 3: Emotional Words to Avoid in Your Essay

Many students make the mistake of not realizing that the perfect essay writing style differs significantly from other forms of writing. You are probably doing it wrong if you are writing like a fiction writer rather than a scholar.

The language of academic writing should be clear, precise, and simple. Academic writing is more formal than the language of non-academic publications (including online blogs). It’s also more sophisticated than the way we generally communicate.

As a result, you need to show to your readers how well you understand the material and whether you have delivered it in an analytical, informative, and balanced manner. Readers should be able to skim your work as quickly as they can. That is why those fantastic adjectives you thought would make your essay top-tier are not helping you understand your essay better.

So, what words would you use to present your essay in the best way possible?

Make an effort to be analytical, informative, and objective.  Do not aim at making your essay engaging or entertaining. In fact, the more you use hyperbolic vocabulary to thrill and capture your audience’s attention, the more readers will be disappointed.

To prevent that and make sure your reader thinks your essay is credible and informative, take a look at these 3 groups of words and phrases you should not use in essay writing.

Group 1: Exaggerated Words to Avoid in Your Essay

Exaggerated (hyperbolic) language should be avoided in your writing. You will sound like you are trying to convince your reader a bit too much if you use exaggerated words. It can be widely used in spoken language, and exaggeration is most likely used as a rhetorical device. On the other hand, exaggeration can have a negative impact, especially when it comes to the veracity and credibility of a statement.

These hyperbolic terms are known as ‘boosters’ in academia, and studies suggest that students who use them receive poorer grades. Ideally, you want to appear as if you have calmly explained the arguments for and against a given issue. Research studies found that objective analysis gets better grades. As a result, avoid giving the impression that you have overstated something.

Exaggerating statements is one of students’ most basic mistakes while writing essays. Students believe that their purpose is to deliver a convincing explanation that will persuade their audience of one point or another. In fact, a true rational thinker is critical of both oneself and others.

As a result, they do not exaggerate one side of a debate. Even when they reach a conclusion of their essay, it is finished only after you examine all sides of an issue for problems and weaknesses.

You do not want to appear as an incompetent writer in your readers’ eyes. Here are some hyperbolic words you should avoid using in your academic writing:


Avoid These Hyperbolic Terms:
Always, never
Perfect, best


For example, try writing “The given statement is a fair evaluation of the situation” instead of “The given statement is an extremely fair evaluation of the situation.”

These words could also be inaccurate – when you suggest that something is perfect or never occurs, you are making a big claim. Similarly, avoid using the most shocking evaluations that sound surreal. If you find a statement that seems excessively overwhelming, look for one that is more realistic or balanced.

One of the easiest methods to demonstrate that you have come up with a thorough, careful analysis of a topic is to illustrate the subtle variations between different academic sources you have read. It also demonstrates that you use critical thinking skills.

Group 2: Redundant Words to Avoid in Your Essay

Your paper will lack professionalism if you use redundant words. Repeating words that do not serve any purpose will harm your final grade. It is essential to strike a balance between restating major points to assist readers in following along and eliminating needless redundant words that could distract or tire them.

They are fantastic for emphasizing points in a conversation or a blog entry, but they do not belong in traditional academic writing. Here are the three main reasons why redundant words should be omitted:

  • They disrupt the essay’s flow and lead to misunderstanding.
  • They can distract the reader from the main point you aim to present in your essay.
  • They can make your essay look informal.

Informative, insightful, and well-written essays are the most powerful. You will lose the reader’s attention and your credibility if you overuse meaningless words and phrases. Look through these redundant words and try substituting them with words and phrases that serve some purpose:

Avoid These Redundant Words: and Phrases:
Add up
And etc.
Ask the question
As a matter of fact
Each and every
End result
Every single person
Past history
First and foremost
Reason why
Present time
Originally created
Never before
May/might possibly

For example, try writing “Newton remains a foremost scientist” instead of “Newton remains first and foremost a scientist”.

Group 3: Emotional Words to Avoid in Your Essay

Emotive language is the purposeful use of words to evoke an emotional response. While the use of emotional language may be appropriate for writers of blogs or fiction texts, it should not be used in scholarly writing. Emotive writing is highly subjective. As a result, it is not appropriate in academic essay writing.

It is best to avoid the redundancy of words and phrases inside a paragraph when writing in English. It’s much better to avoid it in close-coupled sentences if at all possible. Finding synonyms (alternative words or phrases that signify the same or at least a related) is a smart solution. English (like many other languages) has a large vocabulary, and there are often multiple terms used to describe things.

Lack of rational thought is shown in emotive language. Emotive language is thus a significant disadvantage in the eye of your teacher. In a paper, you want it to appear as if you arrived at your conclusion after conducting objective and thoughtful research.

Simply put, emotive language in essay writing makes you look unprofessional and uneducated. A realistic view will be more acceptable. Here are some words to stay away from while writing a school paper:

Avoid These Redundant Words:

For example, try writing “These scientists say the given theory is illogical” instead of “These scientists say the given theory is absurd.” Allow the data to speak for itself by how you structured and delivered it.

Academic essay writing should be professional and free of subjective feelings and beliefs. Although some essay subjects may be personal in nature, students should refrain from using emotive language excessively. It is not challenging to compose an essay without using emotive language; you just need to choose your words wisely. Emotional language should not be used in formal writing because it is used to evaluate things.

Final Thoughts

We have included three groups of words and phrases to avoid in essays, along with some examples, in this article. Let’s take a moment to remember these three types of words and phrases that you should avoid:

  1. Exaggerated Words
  2. Redundant Words
  3. Emotional Words

The goal of formal writing is to be brief, straightforward, and analytical. You are causing yourself damage by exaggerating, being overly emotional, and being repetitive.

You should begin to improve your grades by focusing on your word choice. It is often more necessary to concentrate on words to avoid than ones to use.