7 Words to Avoid to Sound Smarter


Communication is an inseparable part of our life. We communicate through speech, text, emails, phone calls, and even photo captions on our social media pages. All of those communication forms use one common thing: words.

When we have great ideas, we need to know how to communicate them. Not only interpersonal relationship level, our communication in works also should be conveying our confidence. But, sometimes we have some bad speech or writing habits that fails us to sound smarter.

Choosing the right words to express our mind is important, not only for persuasive purpose but also simply to shape our image. Some words should be avoided to be used in our communication to not sound powerless, unintelligent, and even arrogant.

Here are the words you should remove from your vocabulary immediately:

“I cannot”

Did you know that saying “I cannot” makes you appear powerless? It’s a very common word we use in our daily conversation to express that we are unable to do something. Instead of using these words, you can use other options like “I choose to” By using these words, you’ll sound more assertive.


While it’s fine to be used in daily conversation with your closest friends, this throwaway expression sounds kind of rude. Instead of saying this word, you can simply be silent. Just keep this expression to yourself. Also, don’t shrug your shoulders as it’s the physical manifestation of the word!

“I don’t know”
There’s nothing wrong with not knowing something and admitting it. These words can also express honesty and humbleness. But, sometimes, this expression conveys a message that you’re ignorant. That is why it’s better to frame this situation into more assertive words, such as “I’ll find out”, “I’m uncertain”, or “I’m learning to”.


Unless you’re Severus Snape who always loves Lily Potter, don’t use this word. “Always” is also rarely true. Unless you’re giving written commands or instructions, this word is better avoided. You can replace with other options like “constantly”, “each time”, “regularly”, or “repeatedly”.

“I supposed to”

When you hear somebody say that he or she was supposed to do something but didn’t, what he or she say really meant was that they had the best of intentions but some outside influence or circumstances compelled them to act otherwise. It can be replaced with “I will” or “I intend” as these convey a firm perspective.


Many people use this word wrongly. “Literally” means literal or actually happening as stated. Unless it’s really happening as described, it’s better to use other option like “figuratively”. So, whatever is happening is being described metaphorically.


In professional context, this word minimizes the power of your statements and can make you seem defensive or even apologetic. It can often be a defense mechanism subconsciously used to shield ourselves from the rejection of hearing “no” or a way to avoid the discomfort of feeling like we’re asking or disturbing too much.