15 Phrases That Make You Sound Weak…

…According to Grammar Experts and the Lawyer My Father Hired to Represent Me

  1. “You know what I mean?”
    Never ask your reader for the confidence you should supply yourself. 
  2. “I think …” 
    Strong communication is built on bold assertions. Cut every instance of this weasel phrase. 
  3. “Maybe we should …” 
    If you believe in a course of action, say so with no conditions. 
  4. “Forgive me.” 
    The innocent have no need for absolution. 
  5. “I’m sorry for your loss.” 
    Never directly acknowledge the incident. 
  6. “Nobody deserves to die in such a terrible manner.” 
    “Terrible” is an editorialization—avoid it. Also, see number 5. 
  7. “For what it’s worth …” 
    Your words determine their own worth. Let them. 
  8. “It was just a terrible yachting accident.” 
    Avoid allusions to class and privilege. 
  9. “… if you know what I mean.” 
    A strong communicator assumes the listener’s understanding. 
  10. “It was a youthful indiscretion, your honor, and one I must live with for the rest of my life.” 
    Jesus Christ. Hold it together. 
  11. “I’m not sure, but …” 
    Another weasel phrase. Strike all instances. 
  12. “No one would find out; father made sure of it. But I knew what I had done and I had to face the consequences.” 
    Never incriminate the family. Claim your confession was coerced. 
  13. “Although my belief in God died that day, I murmur his name every night as I stare through the bars and drift to sleep. I pray for numbness, but as consciousness loosens its hold on my addled body, I feel the tightening grip of despair—the unrelenting crush of guilt as it churns through my subconscious, surfacing images I swore never to recall. And as the rising sun pries me from my nightmare, I know at last the awful truth: that if God exists, death is too sweet a mercy for him to grant me.” 
    Focus on how religion has made you a better person. 
  14. “Does that make sense?” 
    See number 9. 
  15. “Guilty, your honor.” 
    A nonstarter. Consider a plea deal or force a mistrial.

Tyler Clair Smith writes screenplays and dumb tweets. 

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