A very, really good blog

I have a very important point to make in this month’s blog that will really change the way you write in a very good way. It’s really great. Very great, in fact. I really mean it. 

Are you suspicious? You should be. I’m suspicious, and I wrote it! 

The reason for your distrust is because I used too many filler words, words you should really avoid using. Very much so.

Here’s why:

1. They weaken your point

Filler words aren’t necessary to the sentence and actually detract from the case you’re making. Take it from American novelist Florence King:

“‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.” 

If you’re dancing around your point, praising how good it is, people start to get suspicious that maybe it’s not as great as you’re saying it is. Tacking cheap adjectives into your writing is like over-frosting a cupcake – as soon as you bite into it, you know there’s not much substance to it. 

2. They’re clutter

Or take it from another author, Mark Twain (gee, authors sure like writing about words):

“Substitute ‘damn’ every time you’re inclined to write ‘very;’ your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be.”

As a proud editor for Compass Group, I ask that you please not do this. However, Mr. Twain has a point – taking these filler words out doesn’t change the writing at all. In fact, removing them strengthens the writing because readers tend to get lost in wordy sentences (or stop reading altogether). 


So, if you can’t use “very” or “really” or “damn,” how do you express yourself fully? How do you juice up your words? How do you tell your clients you really like them? Like, really, really, really like them?

1. Use the power of the thesaurus

Don’t settle for the lazy route when you’ve got the whole English language at your disposal. Dust off your thesaurus and find some words with impact. 

Boring filler wordsWitness the power of the thesaurus!
Very excitedThrilled, eager
Really easySimple, effortless
Super expensiveCostly, overpriced, exorbitant
Very good/really greatExcellent, terrific, fantastic
Extremely difficultArduous, burdensome, tough
Really rewarding/very beneficialValuable, worthwhile, profitable, favorable

Just be careful to not overdo it. If you replace every word with an extra dose of thesaurus, you may end up saying, “We graciously acknowledge the favorable circumstances in which our enterprises could become entwined,” when all you meant was: “Thank you for the opportunity to partner with you.”

2. Cut, cut, cut

When in doubt, cut it out. Keep it simple and let your words speak for themselves. Or, as the famed CCS editing team is prone to say: “If it’s not helping you, it’s hurting you.”

Every word counts, so choose them very carefully. 

Don’t be sad. We’ll be back on the first Monday next month with a new blog post. If you can’t wait that long—whether because you have a topic you’d love us to cover, a question or you simply want to throw your two cents into the pot—we love talkin’ shop, so drop us a line.

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