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Grammar Repair Shop: Top 5 phrases to avoid

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Which phrases and buzzwords have we so overused and mangled that we should stop using them altogether?

Researchers at the University of Oxford keep track of books, magazines, online media and other sources to look for “irritating expressions” that ought to be retired. A few from the top 10 list, and why you should resist writing them:

1. Fairly unique. Either something is unique (one of a kind) or it isn’t.

2. I personally. In most cases, the word “personally” isn’t necessary to the sentence. And because it has been so overused, the phrase lacks the dramatic impact it may have once had.

3. At this moment in time. Shorten it to “now” or “currently.”

4. With all due respect. You often see this phrase preface something slightly offensive, to soften the blow. Better to say what you mean as gracefully as you can, without leaning on this overused phrase.

5. Shouldn’t of. The correct usage is “shouldn’t have,” as in “I shouldn’t have left the lights on all night.”

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