How to Avoid Overused Words in Your Essay

Overused words

You’ve done it. After hours and hours of toiling over your essay, overnight writing sessions, extensive research, and countless coffees, it’s finally finished. You can almost relax and hand the paper in, but there’s one more step. Just as any good piece of writing, the next step is to get it reviewed, usually by a peer or someone knowledgeable, to check for any mistakes or errors that you might have overlooked. And hm, it seems that your peer has something to say about your essay.

“It’s too repetitive” 

“its too boring” 

“you use the same words over and over again” 

“I don’t understand this part”

“use a thesaurus” 

Well, now that you’ve gotten that wonderful feedback, it looks like it’s back to the drawing board! Where did it all go wrong? What do they mean “it’s too boring” !? How can I recover from this setback? 

Why is writing well so important?

Writing is overlooked as an essential skill to have for work, as most people don’t need to write essays and theses and written analyses. Students see it as an assignment task only, and fail to see the other skill learned: eloquence in language. Why is it important? 

To begin with, it sets the tone in professional settings, whether by e-mail or in person-to-person communication. You’re able to express yourself in a variety of ways and communicate your ideas and concerns effectively. This written language translates to your spoken language, which is important in finding a job, networking, and even your higher education course studies. 

What is the problem with my writing?

Students often fall into the common trap of using plain vocabulary, repetitive grammar, and overly complex ideas because they lack the skills to enhance their writing. Most students write their essays fairly quickly without much thought to the finer details and often skip this last step of revision, so these things are easily missed early on in the draft stages. Plenty of essays are done for the sake of finishing an assignment rather than expressing your ideas, which is why there isn’t so much enthusiasm for for writing

So how can I fix this problem?

Writing effectively can be solved in a plethora of ways, but the first thing to understand is your reason for writing – this will help you choose the correct lexis (vocabulary)  and timbre (tone) for your writing. There are plenty of techniques to avoid those pesky repetitive words and overly complex structures and refine it into a great piece of work.

•  Avoid Overused Words and Phrases 

No one wants to read the same things over and over and over and over again. It’s safe to say that this is easily noticed, as you are using the same terms throughout the essay. Using the same word for the same thing, or using the same pronouns and structures for the same this can get boring. So here’s a few ways to spice it up.  

•  Pronouns and Relative Clauses

Grammar can be your friend in avoiding repetition, it’s the things that provide more interesting structures and a well-balanced essay. It allows students to refer back to the horse which we mentioned that was beaten to death, and provide us with relative pronouns like “who” or “which” instead of using the common “it” or “that” to speak about these nouns. If you’re having trouble with relative clauses and English language, Assignment Expert can help you with your English assignments and even help you with your essays. 

•  Simplify Your Words

In an attempt to sound smarter, students try to create overly complex structures and use vocabulary words out of context and just make a whole mess of their essay. Sometimes it’s better to simplify the language you use to express your ideas. 

Phrases like “very important” or “extremely urgent” use filler words that are unimportant like “very” and “extremely” whereas another word can relay the same information in less words. Words like “essential, vital, crucial, critical” can be more effective in getting your ideas across. 

•  Avoid colloquialisms and cliches 

There are plenty of common phrases and idioms used in spoken language today, but should be avoided in your essays, as they usually don’t fit the tone. “Kind of/Sort of” , “Basically/Totally/Completely”, “Etc/And so on” are just some examples of overused colloquialisms to avoid when writing your essay. 

Cliches should also be avoided. Sprinkling phrases like “at the end of the day” or “come full circle” shows a lazy side of writing, limiting your expressive ability. Instead, think of other ways to express this feeling, or avoid using too many of these cliches. 

•  Synonyms 

It’s like beating a dead horse. We know that you are talking about the horse. There is no need to reference the horse as the horse. The horse knows its being talked about, so there is no need to talk about the horse like this. 

Instead, using synonyms or come up with clever ways to describe this wonderful equine that gallops through the countryside. Or maybe you can call it a white and black stallion, or a mustang, or a pure-bred race horse. Horses are only horses if you call it a horse. So brighten up your vocabulary and use plenty of synonyms. Just make sure that it fits the timbre of the essay, otherwise it will look very strange to hear “a subspecies of Equus Ferus” in the context of an animal rights essay. 

Here’s a list of common overused words and what synonyms you can use:

Commonly Used Words

Synonyms and Alternatives


Alternative ideas, further suggestions, different opinions, separate thoughts


Additional, incremental, greater, a number of, several, a multitude 


State-of-the-art, updated, novel, modern, 


Excellent, decent, worthy, superb, wonderful


Initial, principle, origin, beginning, start

When you’ve finished your essay, it’s essential to have someone peer edit or at least look at it, so you can get a better idea of how well it is written. Plenty of these pitfalls are easily noticed, and can help you get that extra grade on your essay, but also improve your own personal language skills. 

Filed under English, Writing.
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