Do you have words or phrases you wish you could banish? Lake Superior State University published a list of words they would like to banish and why they would like them gone. The words amazing, occupy, baby bump, and trickeration are among those that made the list.
One phrase that currently gets under my skin is “The reason is because…” At a basic level, the words “reason” and “because” are redundant. On a more technical level, a linking verb should not modify an adverb clause, which is what usually follows this phrase.
Even though this phrase bothers me, I try to remind myself students may be trying to sound academic. Trying to sound academic can make the best of us sound odd at times. Also, the phrase created by the redundancy plays an important linguistic function; it emphasizes the point to the reader by drawing attention to itself.
So, while many of us have words and phrases that make us see red, how do we respond to these in the classroom?
When these instances occur during grading, I sometimes give students examples of a way to rephrase their writing, or in the case of a misused word (then vs. than) I explain the variation in meaning. I do not take points off unless some repeatedly misused word seriously impacts the understandability of the writing. What do you do?
What words would you like to banish and why?