So, you have to write an essay. Believe me when I say I know how much that sucks. Even worse? The little things – such as spelling, grammar and even certain phrases – have the power to make or break your essay.

So, which words should you steer clear of in order to knock your teacher’s socks off? Read on to find out the top five things to avoid at all costs.


1. Teen speech

Teen speech – otherwise known as intensifiers – have no place in academic writing. Used to describing a book as “really emotive” or someone as “very happy” in a text? This could be why your marks are going down. Intensifiers are empty sentence fillers that don’t add anything insightful or interesting to an essay. Not only do they fail to add anything worthwhile – they will also make your essay sound juvenile.


2. Clichés

Clichés are phrases that have been used so often they’re no longer effective. Think “leave no stone unturned”, “win some, lose some” or, “between a rock and a hard place”.  You should avoid using clichés when writing essays as they are a sign of laziness. You need to do the work yourself – come up with your own phrases.


3. Literally

Literally never write “literally” in an essay. It should be a given that whatever you’re writing is real and not in a dream world.


4. A lot

How much is “a lot”? One million books? Or perhaps 3,000 people? The phrase “a lot” is meaningless without context. And when you give it context, you no longer need the phrase “a lot” because you have a quantifiable figure. On top of this, “a lot” is very subjective. What may be “a lot” to one person may be “some” or “not much” to another.


5. In conclusion

Last but not least? The phrase, “in conclusion” is incredibly juvenile, and should be avoided at all costs. Do you really think your teacher can’t work out that the last paragraph of your essay is the conclusion? Just go ahead and conclude your essay. Delete the entire first sentence and get right into it. Tah-dah!