Jul 14 2008

Don’t Start Sentences with Empty Interjections

Published by at 9:24 pm under Word Choice,Writing Articles

When an interjection like “well” starts a sentence, it’s usually wasted space.  If you start sentences with any of these common offenders, double-check to make sure that they actually contribute something to the sentence.  Otherwise, please remove them.

  1. Well
  2. You know
  3. Oh
  4. Like
  5. Umm
  6. OK
  7. I mean
  8. Seriously
  9. Basically
  10. Yeah

4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Don’t Start Sentences with Empty Interjections”

  1. timon 15 Jul 2008 at 7:38 pm

    Well, you’ve seriously hit the nail on the head. I mean, Ok, sometimes you can get away with using them. Umm, y’know what I mean? 🙂

  2. Melissa H.on 02 Sep 2008 at 9:03 am

    These words have their uses. Consider this:

    : “Well . . . yeah,” he said.

    Many of your list are so-called “stall words,” and that’s precisely because we use them to stall conversation for a moment. Perhaps he wants to consider before answering, or he just doesn’t want to answer.

    You could tap-dance around it.

    : He hesitated. “Yeah.”

    But why?

    In real life, people use stall words left and right. I wouldn’t have a character use them pointlessly, but they’re a good way to show that a character is stalling, and dialogue entirely free of them would be unnatural.

    “Like” is a topic in itself.

  3. B. Macon 02 Sep 2008 at 10:45 am

    Ah, that’s a good point. These interjections can sometimes have a purpose (like affecting the pacing). But I think that these words are almost always used without any particular goal in mind. I’d recommend sparing use.

  4. NewAgeZombion 09 Oct 2009 at 3:27 pm

    On a note that’s sorta related to this, in that it refers to the overuse of certain words: I may be somewhat new to narrative writing, but I can tell you that using nouns as exclamations (i.e. “Dude!”) sounds absolutely atrocious in most circumstances. I know this because, if it sounds awful in real life (I’ve made a bad habit of it, so I really know), what would make it sound any better in writing? Just. Don’t. Do. It.

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