Glued words, more commonly known as “glue words” or sometimes “sticky words”, are essential in writing. They do exactly what it sounds like - hold a sentence together. But when you use too many glue words in a sentence, they can actually do more harm than good. They can hurt your readability, and weaken the overall impact of your content.
In this article, we’re going to discuss - you guessed it - glue words. We’ll talk about what they are, how they can affect readability, and give you some examples so you can identify them in your own writing. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, we’ll give you some tips on removing them from your content to improve readability.
What Are Glue Words?
Richard Wydick talks about two kinds of words in his book Plain English for Lawyers: working words and glue words. Working words are the ones that are doing the real “work” in a sentence, as they’re responsible for its overall meaning. The glue words, on the other hand, are kind of just filling in the blanks, connecting your working words and giving the sentence some structure.
See if you can identify the working and glue words in the sentence below:
She likes rock music, but she doesn’t like opera.
You may have noticed that without words like she, likes, rock, music, doesn’t, like and opera, this sentence would have no meaning. So, these are the working words. This leaves but as the glue word. It’s necessary within the context of the sentence, sure, but it’s not giving you more information.
How Can Glue Words Affect Readability?
It’s not like you should avoid glued words altogether in your writing - far from it! In many cases, they can improve the readability of sentences. But when you have too many glue words in your content, it can result in a sticky sentence. And those can sound a bit…awkward.
Take this sticky sentence:
In my opinion, I believe that it’s extremely important that we all make a coordinated effort to reduce the amount of plastic we use at home.
A little wordy, but you get the point, right? Now, here’s the same idea without the extra glue words:
We should reduce our plastic usage at home.
Doesn’t that sound better? As you can see, it’s possible to remove the glue words from a sticky sentence and still get your point across. In fact, it’s more effective! It may take a little rearranging, but you’ll end up with a sentence that’s easier to read and understand, improving the readability of your content.
What Are Some Common Glue Words?
There are lots of glue words in the English language, so it’s hard to provide you with an exhaustive list. But generally speaking, you’re looking for “filler words”, or those that add little value to a sentence.
Here are some of the most common glue words to watch out for in your writing:
Did some of your favorites make the list? If so, don’t panic! You won’t need to overhaul your writing completely. There are some strategies you can use to reduce glue words in your content.
How Do You Reduce Glued Words in Writing?
Removing glue words from your writing is one of the easiest ways to improve readability or hit a particular word count. And the best part? Once you get used to identifying glue words, you may just start naturally writing without them. This can save you a lot of editing time in the future.
But until that time comes, how are you supposed to remove the excess glue from your content? Well, your first draft is a great starting point. Look for long, weak, or unclear sentences, and work some editing magic on them.
Or, if you want to save yourself some time (and perhaps a headache), you can use a free readability checker. Simply copy and paste your content into the tool, and it will identify any long sentences and unnecessary adverbs for you. This gives you one less thing to worry about during the editing process.
Plus, if you use the right tool, you’ll also have access to a bunch of other information about your text. Take the readability checker from Originality.AI, for example. In addition to long sentences and adverbs, this one will tell you about
- The average number of syllables per word and sentence
- The number of letters, sentences and words
- Your unique word count
- How the text scores across various readability formulas, including the Flesch Kincaid Reading Ease, Gunning Fog Index, and SMOG index
- And much more
With all of this information, you can greatly improve the readability of your content. And did we mention that it’s FREE?
They may be an essential part of a proper sentence, but too many glued words can hurt the readability of your content. Fortunately, it is possible to identify and remove glue words from your sentences and still get your point across. In fact, with a readability checker, it’s easy!
So, the next time you finish some content, try copy-and-pasting it into a readability checker during the editing process. It may just bring your writing game to a whole new level!