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Do you use filler words?

Most grammar handbooks have a section titled "empty/inflated" phrases that lists words that don't have much meaning; they are also called filler words. While countless words can be classified as "empty/inflated" words, the sentence below gives one example of a filler word.

Original Sentence: THE NATURE OF this research study is more exploratory than explanatory.


“Nature” is a noun that refers to “the inherent character or basic constitution,” “disposition,” “temperament” or “inner force.” So, I ask: Can a research study have a nature? Technically, no.


The second problem is the way the sentence is constructed: "nature" is the subject of the sentence with “of the research study” being a prepositional phrase. A prepositional phrase is a descriptor and not a core part of the sentence. Therefore, the core sentence (when we remove the prepositional phrase) is: "The nature is more exploratory than explanatory." This sentence does not capture the intent of this sentence.


To correct these two issues, I make the subject of the sentence "the research study" since the study is the thing that is more exploratory than explanatory. To do so, I delete the word “nature,” which doesn’t accurately describe an inanimate object (anthropomorphism).


Edited Sentence: This research study is more exploratory than explanatory.


Writers will not always notice empty phrases when writing, but you should check for them when editing, especially if you have the tendency to use them when speaking.


Again, check a handbook for a list of these words!


Cultivating writers...one step at a time!



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