Want to sound smarter? Avoid these 24 overused words and phrases that make you sound 'pretentious,' say grammar experts

It could backfire if you don't be careful what you write or say at work. We asked dozens upon dozens of managers to tell us what they find most frustrating about communicating with employees or reading their DMs. What is the most common complaint? All the "junk words and phrases!" We use too many clunky, pretentious, and redundant words and phrases in our conversations. They may not technically be incorrect in some cases. However, it is safer and more effective to stick to the business communication rules. These are the top irritant phrases and words that managers said they dislike the most.1. 3.30 AM in the morningAM is an abbreviation of ante meridiem. It means "before noon" so if you say the entire phrase, it will actually mean "3 before noon in morning". Simply say 3 AM (or whatever it is). The same goes for PM.2. Absolutely essentialAccording to the dictionary, essential means "absolutely essential". This makes absolute essential "absolutely essential". Evidently, the "absolutely” modifier is not essential. We don't believe "absolutely essential" is necessary. If you are using them to emphasize the necessity or a casual conversation, avoid both.3. The actual truthLet's examine the facts. A fact is something known to be true and actual refers to "existing in reality". A fact is simply an actual fact. Keep it simple.4. At this moment in time/At the present timeThese phrases are a common complaint from most managers we have spoken to. It's better to just say "now". It is also much shorter.5. Value depreciationDepreciate is simply "to decrease in value." Do not depreciate your writing by adding redundant "value".6. Eliminate completely/eliminate completelyEliminate is "completely eliminate", so the idea is complete and total without any unnecessary adjectival. It is impossible to eliminate something completely, so it's not necessary to indicate how much you are eliminating.7. Join together/combineManagers hate these two words. Combining means "to combine or join two or more things." It's implied already so you don't have to use "together". The same applies to "join together".8. Final result/end resultA result is the end of something. It doesn't matter if it is a result at the end or a result at the beginning, since they are not. Similar idea for "final outcome": Outcome refers to the final result. It's already final, without any additional words.9. Estimated at approximatelyYou approximate what you will do when you estimate something. It is impossible to estimate an exact amount, so why not add the "about?"10. The exact sameThere is no difference between two things that are identical. It's possible to say "nearly identical", but "exactly same" is just the same. Although some guides and dictionaries allow it to be used to emphasize that something is literaly the same, repetition is best avoided.11. positive approvalApproval is always positive, so it's not necessary to include that adjective. It doesn't matter if the approval is negative, it's disapproval.12. Feel badMany people believe that adding "ly" to "bad makes it sound better so they use "I feel poorly" instead of "I felt bad." This is wrong. Do you ever say, "I feel very strongly"? If you can't touch something physically, the only time you shouldn't say that you feel bad is when you don't want to.13. General consensus of opinionA consensus is an opinion that is generally held. A general consensus of opinion is a generally held opinion. This makes the Department of Redundancy Department an overachiever, a triple redundancy! The point is made more clear by consensus.14. In close proximityAnother example of redundancy at work. The synonym for proximity is nearness. Close means well, close. The overload of "close" is what "in close proximity" means. It's best to say "close" even though it is a common phrase.15. In my opinionReaders will understand your perspective and insight if you share it. If you are arguing against your own opinion, it is unnecessary to use that overused phrase. You don't have to be specific if you need to.16.This phrase is often criticized by managers as being pompous and jargony. Instead of using four words, only use one: "Finally."17.It means you are in the middle of something. It's a confusing phrase, and often redundant.18. Most uniqueThis is a common grammar complaint. What is the problem? The issue? There can't be gradations of uniqueness. It is unique, pure and simple.19. Past history/past memories/past recordsThese words, which don't include "past", already refer to the past. You don't have to specify unless your writing is science fiction and you are referring both to past and future history via time travel.20. Postpone until laterYou can't put off something if it's important. Do you really want to put it off? Never put off "until later."21. The reason being/the whyThese sounds longwinded, and pretentious. "The office was empty at noon because everyone was eating lunch." Instead of saying "because", why not use the word "because?"22. briefly summarize (also its noun cousin, 'brief summary').Summarize is to provide a concise overview or statement. So to summarize briefly, it means "to make a short statement." You can summarize by omitting the words "briefly" and "briefly".23. SituationThis is a new trend that many people dislike: The addition of "situation" to describe any event. This is what we heard recently on a weather report: "Be prepared to deal with strong wind situations." What happened to the plain old strong wind?