Filler Words List: 30 Words and Phrases to Avoid in Your Writing

To make your writing stronger, avoid the 30 words and phrases on this filler words list.

Filler words make English writing weak. Writing needs to be concise and to-the-point, especially for online audiences, and learning how to avoid common filler words is important to that. Choosing the right word for your specific meaning, and leaving out any additional words, will help you create effective writing.

The best way to avoid filler phrases and words is to keep a filler words list on hand. Here is a comprehensive list of words that you can avoid to keep your writing tighter and avoid common writing mistakes.

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English Filler Words List

Filler words list to avoid in your writing

Before diving into the list of filler words, you should first understand what makes a word or phrase “filler.” 

According to Grammarly, filler words are short words, often meaningless, that you put in your writing. They can also show up in public speaking. In spoken English, filler sounds, like “um” or “uh,” are also common.

These words bring no benefit to the piece and have no function in the sentence. Though they are common, even among native English speakers, they are not necessary. So without further explanation, here is a list of common filler words in American English. 

Adverbs

Many filler words are adverbs. Though they make sense in the sentence, they are not needed. Here are some common ones.

1. Actually, Basically, Seriously

These filler words shows up when you are making a statement that might have an exception. It is usually unnecessary, as in this example:

  • Filler: Basically, he was saying he loved her, but in a round-about way. 
  • Better: He was saying he loved her, but in a round-about way.

2. Just 

Just carries little meaning in the sentence. Often writers use it to sound more polite, but it does not change the sentence. For example:

  • Filler: Could you guys just be quiet for a minute, please?
  • Better: Could you guys be quiet for a minute, please?

3. Very

Very is over-used. Writers choose this word to add intensity to their statement, but its overuse makes it filler. Often, choosing a more specific word makes better sense.

  • Filler: The new store was very crowded on opening day.
  • Better: The new store was bustling on opening day.

4. Really

Like very, really is an over-used English filler word that rarely helps the sentence. For example:

  • Filler: I really want you to come over today.
  • Better: I want you to come over today.

5. Highly

Highly when used as an adverb is filler in most instances. Instead, a more vivid verb will convey the same meaning with fewer words.

  • Filler: She was highly annoyed at his antics.
  • Better: She was irritated at his antics.

6. Totally

This word means completely or absolutely, but it has been over-used so much that it is often thrown into sentences with no meaning at all. For example:

  • Filler: I totally didn't understand what you were saying.
  • Better: I didn't understand what you were saying.

7. Simply

Simply is another word that is not necessary in a sentence. It technically means “in a straightforward or plain manner,” but when used as filler does not carry this meaning. For example:

  • Filler: He simply wanted someone to listen to his needs.
  • Better: He wanted someone to listen to his needs.

8. Most

If you find yourself adding the word “most” to other adverbs, you are writing weakly. Keep it concise. For example

  • Filler: He most especially liked cream in his coffee.
  • Better: He especially liked cream in his coffee.

9. Somehow

Somehow is another adverb that has little meaning in the sentence. IF you can say the same thing without it, leave it off. For example:

  • Filler: She somehow got her point across in spite of her stutter.
  • Better: She got her point across in spite of her stutter.

10. Slightly

Saying something is “slightly” so makes the sentence boring. Instead, say what you mean. For example:

  • Filler: After days of cloudy weather, the sunshine was slightly blinding.
  • Better: After days of cloudy weather, the sunshine felt blinding.

11. Absolutely

If something is absolutely the case, you should not have to say it. Adding the word “absolutely” simply adds more words, not more meaning. Here is an example:

  • Filler: She absolutely wanted to go, but could not make time for it.
  • Better: She wanted to go, but could not make time for it.

Filler Phrases

Another common problem in the English language, especially in English speaking, is filler phrases. These typically have no meaning but are added while the speaker is thinking about their words. Here are some examples.

12. At the End of the Day

Saying “at the end of the day” usually means nothing in the statement. It can be left out completely without changing the meaning.

  • Filler: At the end of the day, John believed her story.
  • Better: John believed her story.

13. Believe Me

This is another filler phrase that shows up often in spoken English. The speaker is trying to get the listener's attention and trust. For example:

  • Filler: Believe me, I would have been happier without the barking dog moving in next door.
  • Better: I would have been happier without the barking dog moving in next door.

14. You Know What I Mean?

This phrase is used in conversation, but in speeches and writing, it is unnecessary. It is a way to get the listener or reader to add their input. For example:

  • Filler: I felt the workload was a bit intense, you know what I mean?
  • Better: I felt the workload was a bit intense.

15. I Guess or I Suppose

Again, this is a conversation discourse marker, but it is not necessary in formal writing or speaking. Here is an example:

  • Filler: I was planning to cook dinner tonight, but I guess we can eat at a restaurant.
  • Better: I was going to cook dinner tonight, but we can eat at a restaurant. 

16. For What It's Worth

“For what it's worth” has no meaning in the sentence. Writers usually use this if they aren't sure about the feelings of their readers. For example:

  • Filler: For what it's worth, we could start with the upperclassmen for picture day.
  • Better: We could start with the upperclassmen for picture day. 

17. I Mean

This phrase means nothing in the sentence. Hopefully, if you are saying or writing, something, you do mean it. For example:

  • Filler: I mean, I'm sure she's a nice lady, but I don't enjoy her as a teacher.
  • Better: I'm sure she's a nice lay, but I don't enjoy her as a teacher.

18. You Know

“You know” or “You know what I mean” falls right up there with I mean. Here is how it is filler in the sentence:

  • Filler: You know, we could just skip dinner and head straight for dessert.
  • Better: We could just skip dinner and head straight for dessert.

19. Like I Said

This phrase can be helpful to pull the listener or reader back to something said previously, but it can also be over-done and turn into filler. For example:

  • Filler: Like I said, you will be getting some new hires in your department next week.
  • Better: You will be getting some new hires in your department next week. 

20. Or Something Like That

If you end a sentence with this, you are adding filler. It means nothing, but shows you ran out of things to say and makes your writing or speaking weaker. For example:

  • Filler: He suggested he was hoping for me to take a leadership position, or something like that.
  • Better: He suggested he was hoping for me to take a leadership position.

21. Kind of/Sort of

“Kind of” and “sort of” make it sound like the item you are discussing is not actually certain. Leaving off these words makes the writing stronger. For example:

  • Filler: The dinner sort of smelled like tacos.
  • Better: The dinner smelled like tacos.

22. And Ect.

Using “and” with “Ect.” is redundant. You can shorten this by saying “etc.” and leaving off the “and.” For example:

  • Filler: The vet saw all kinds of animals, including dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, and etc.
  • Better: The vet saw all kinds of animals, including dogs, cats, snakes, hamsters, etc.

23. Due To

The phrase “due to the” is best substituted with a simpler word, like because. Here are some examples:

  • The game was canceled due to the rain.
  • The game was canceled because it rained.

24. Empty Out

This phrase is redundant. To “empty” something means to remove its items out of it, so you do not need the “out.” For example:

  • Filler: The high school emptied out quickly on the last day of school.
  • Better: The high school emptied quickly on the last day of school.

25. For All Intents and Purposes

“For all intents and purposes” carries no meaning and makes a statement weak. Eliminate it to make the sentence stronger. For example:

  • Filler: For all intents and purposes, I can say that you are my favorite person.
  • Better: You are my favorite person.

26. In Terms Of

This is another phrase that is not helpful in the sentence's meaning. Eliminate it to make the writing stronger. For example:

  • Filler: In terms of salary, it was a good job offer.
  • Better: The job offer had a good salary.

Other Filler Words

Some filler words do not fall into specific parts of speech. They make no sense in the sentence, but speakers put them in to help the words flow. When these meaningless words make their way into writing, it simply makes the writing wordier.

Here are some examples

27. Ok, so

This is another pair of filler words that show up in writing because of the way we speak conversationally. They bring no meaning to the sentence, and usually are at the start of the sentence. For example:

  • Filler: Ok, so what she was saying is she wanted to go to the concert, but couldn't afford the ticket.
  • Better: She was saying she wanted to go to the concert, but couldn't afford the ticket. 

28. Well

Well can be an adjective or adverb, but it often shows up as filler in a sentence. For example:

  • Filler: Well, he said he wanted to buy a new car, but the sticker price convinced him to choose a used model.
  • Better: He said he wanted to buy a new car, but the sticker price convinced him to choose a used model.

29. Now

Unless you are talking about a time, the word “now” has little meaning in the sentence. For example:

  • Filler: Now, the little child's pretentious attitude seemed cute.
  • Better: The little child's pretentious attitude seemed cute.

30. All Of

The phrase “all of” is redundant. You can simply say “all” and leave off the “of.” FOr example:

  • Filler: She ate all of the cake the next day.
  • Better: She ate all the cake the next day.

A Final Word on Filler Words List

When you write or speak, take the time to analyze every word. Make sure the words you include have meaning and help the sentences be stronger. If they do not, or if you overuse certain words, tighten up the writing.

Filler and fluff make you seem less adept at communication. by evaluating your writing to eliminate these problems, you will become a better writer overall. 

If you like this type of list, we also created one about transition words.

FAQs on Filler Words List

What are filler words in writing?

Filler words are words that carry little meaning, or no meaning, in writing. They often work their way in based on speech patterns. Writers carry filler words that they would use in conversation into their writing, and it gets weaker.

How to avoid filler words in writing?

When writing, carefully evaluate every sentence to ensure the words have meaning. IF there is a shorter or more impactful way to state something, your sentence has filler. Eliminate the filler to make the writing stronger.

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Author

  • Nicole Harms has been writing professionally since 2006. She specializes in education content and real estate writing but enjoys a wide gamut of topics. Her goal is to connect with the reader in an engaging, but informative way. Her work has been featured on USA Today, and she ghostwrites for many high-profile companies. As a former teacher, she is passionate about both research and grammar, giving her clients the quality they demand in today's online marketing world.

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