S2E7: Alternatives to Overused Phrases

S2E7: Alternatives to Overused Phrases

Before we begin, there is quite a bit of vocabulary to get through.

  • Unique (adj) being the only one of its kind; unlike anything else.
  • Cliché (noun) a phrase or opinion that is overused and betrays a lack of original thought.
  • Undermine (verb) lessen the effectiveness, power, or ability.
  • Credibility (noun) the quality of being trusted and believed in.
  • Specific (adj) clearly defined or identified.
  • Understandable (adj) able to be understood.
  • Irrelevant (adj) not connected with or relevant to something.
  • Status (noun) the situation at a particular time during a process.
  • Authentic (adj) if something is authentic, it is real, true, or what people say it is.
  • Authenticity (noun) the quality of being authentic.
  • Concise (adj) giving a lot of information clearly and in a few words; brief but comprehensive.
  • Hyperbole (noun) / Hyperbolic (adverb) exaggerated statements or claims not meant to be taken literally.

Now, there are a lot of phrases that are overused when writing emails. One of the best ways to make your email stand out – and make your reader, therefore, remember what you said – is by making it unique. This comes from being specific, clear, and using language that is not cliché or dull. In this lesson you will learn some alternatives to phrases that are overused in emails. I’ll start by mentioning the overused phrase and then offer some alternatives.

Overused phraseAlternative phrases/Tips
‘I hope you’re doing well.’Some phrases have been used so much that they sound empty. It’s best to say something original such as: ‘I’ve really been enjoying your work’.
‘Sorry for the delay’ / ‘Sorry to bother you.’Starting an email with an apology sets a negative tone and undermines your credibility. It’s best to begin with confidence and positivity. So, instead of apologising, you can say: ‘Thank you for your patience.’
‘Let’s touch base’This phrase is another way of saying ‘let’s catch up’ but it is both informal and vague. You want to be clear in your email and tell your reader what you want. Therefore, instead of this phrase, you could say: ‘Let’s discuss the invoices tomorrow’ or ‘let’s strategize about our plans tomorrow.’ Make sure you’re being specific.
‘Just checking in’The same advice goes for this phrase – you need to be specific. Instead of saying ‘just checking in’ get to the point. Ask the reader something specific. For example: ‘I would like an update on the project you’re working on’ ‘I would like you to inform me of the project’s current status.’ ‘Please send me an outline of your project ASAP.’
‘As per my last email…’We talked about ‘as per’ in episode 5. Now you know how to use it, you need to know how not to overuse it. This particular phrase ‘as per my last email’ is used too much. Much better to say: ‘With regards to my previous email…’ ‘Regarding my previous email…’ And, as always, be specific, get to the point. You don’t want your email to be too long (and therefore ramble) you want to be clear and concise.
‘Don’t hesitate to contact me.’Instead of using this phrase, you want to say something a little more personal. The phrase is used in a lot of emails, so it’s lost its authenticity/it doesn’t sound genuine. ‘Let me know if you need anything.’ is a good alternative as well as, ‘please send me any questions you have.’ ‘If you have any questions let me know.’ The last four examples are words that we should try to not overuse.
‘Literally’Far few people use this word in the correct way. ‘Literally’ is an adverb which means in a literal manner or sense; exactly. A lot of native speakers use this word in a hyperbolic way/to exaggerate a point. Because of this, the word has become overused and has lost its power. Best to avoid using this word and stick to ‘exactly’.
‘Etc’Sometimes, ‘etc’ comes at the end of a sentence because you assume your reader knows what you’re going to say. This is understandable and a fine use of the word. However, it is commonly used when people don’t know what else to say. It, therefore, is overused to the point of being irrelevant. Only use this word when you can’t fit everything in.
‘Stuff’This word is too vague. It also shows you’re not being specific with your language. Just say what it is you want to say.
‘Trying’This word indicates that you’re unsure. It’s best not to send an email where you’re confused – unless you’re specifically emailing a person who can help you.

Well there you have it, some alternatives to overused phrases. By using these alternatives your emails will become professional, unique and exciting to read. I hope you’ve enjoyed Season 2 of the Writing Emails course. I’m Tom, Head of Content and a Senior Teacher here at Intrepid English. And thank you for listening. Stay tuned for more audio courses coming soon that you can find on Apple Podcasts or our website.