If someone uses these 9 superfluous phrases, they’re probably overcompensating for something

Have you ever met people who use overly complicated or lengthy phrases in their speech?

After a while, they start to come off as trying too hard, as if they’re trying to compensate for something. It could be because they want to prove that they’re intelligent enough or more well-read than most – but sometimes, it just comes off as borderline obnoxious.

Sure, there are those who have a more elegant way of introducing big words and phrases into their language. They do it naturally and it’s largely because they don’t see the need to prove themselves.

But then there are those who just want to impress.

Today we’ll check out 9 superfluous phrases that people often use when they’re likely overcompensating for something.

1) “Notwithstanding…”

We see this a lot in formal writing, or perhaps in an onscreen conversation between characters from way, way back.

But to use this in everyday language today? Perhaps not.

If the person you’re speaking to has to search up the word you’re using or you’re unsure if you’re even using that word in the correct context, why not try something a little less complex?

‘In spite of’ works, or even ‘although’. These are a lot less of a mouthful as well.

2) “In lieu of…”

Frankly, I’ve only seen this phrase used regularly on legal documents or when talking about public holidays that fall on Sundays (employees are given a day off on Monday in lieu of that public holiday falling on Sunday).

But to use it in spoken language? Rarely.

If someone uses this phrase, it’s likely they’re trying to appear smarter than they actually are.

Instead, why not use something a bit more simple, such as ‘instead of’, ‘in place of’, or ‘alternatively’? It’s much clearer, and one wouldn’t get confused with what they’re actually trying to say.

3) “Let’s commence”

If you’re not facilitating a debate, a formal meeting, or a discussion – please just use ‘begin’.

Believe it or not, I used to have a friend who used this in everyday language.

When we gathered for meals, he’d officially start the (very casual, by the way) dinner by saying ‘alright, let’s commence dinner’. It was so unnecessary.

It honestly made us feel as if we were in some posh school where students and teachers gathered to eat lunch and no one gets to eat first unless the headmaster takes the first bite and announces ‘let’s commence’.

Even ‘let’s start’ works so much better, in a less formal setting. 

4) “Attached herewith…”

I had a colleague who would use this in every email that he sent that had attachments. This was still okay. Some people just prefer using formal language to sound smarter, especially over email.


But this phrase would spill into his everyday conversations:

  • ‘Yes, it’s attached herewith in the email I sent a few hours ago.’
  • ‘Have you seen the document attached herewith in the email sent out five minutes ago?’ 

It just made him seem less friendly, as people got the impression that he wanted to prove himself to management that he was smarter than the rest. And indeed, he often used complex phrases when he was speaking to management.

Unfortunately, he didn’t impress any of them, mostly because they were looking for someone who could work, rather than use superfluous language to appear smart.

pic2027 If someone uses these 9 superfluous phrases, they’re probably overcompensating for something

5) “We could be utilizing…”

Why not just use the word ‘use’?

Utilizing comprises 4 syllabi, use is just one.

It’ll not only save time and effort in the long run, but it’ll also show that one isn’t trying to overcompensate for something.

6) “Inasmuch as…”

I’m not going to lie, the first time I came across this phrase when reading a news article, I had to search up what it meant.

And even then, whenever I see it pop up, I would still have to search for its meaning.

Whenever it’s being used, it makes the sentence even more complex, and since it’s usually used in legal documents or news articles with a ton of jargon, it makes things a lot tougher.

Instead, why not try ‘considering that…’? It’ll make things less confusing as well – especially since most if not 90% of the people in the world would likely use this phrase over ‘inasmuch as…’

7) “I’m cognizant of the fact that…”

Are you aware that this may make you sound like you’re overcompensating for something?

If someone uses this phrase, it could be because they’re trying to sound more sophisticated with a phrase that’s a bit more complex. But when chatting with friends and family, I think one doesn’t need to try so hard.

Unless drafting an email, a formal letter, or perhaps engaging in a high-level debate or discussion, why not swap it for something a bit less complex? 

8) “In the event that…”

Why is there a need to use so many words to express yourself when this could just be summed up with the word ‘if’?

Most of the time, less is more.

Phrases that are too lengthy could overcomplicate conversations, and if more than one of these is used, it could cause a bit of confusion.

The other person may not even have that much of an attention span to listen to a conversation full of lengthy, superfluous phrases.

In writing, sometimes it’s also good etiquette to get straight to the point, especially in emails – since people usually read on the go.

9) “With regards to…”

I usually only read these in emails, less so in text and conversations.

A simpler and quicker way would be to use ‘about’. 

Of course, there may be some cases where using more sophisticated or lengthy phrases would better suit a specific purpose, but in more casual settings, it’s usually more effective to use simpler language.

If someone’s less likely to use more complex phrases, suddenly using these phrases in their conversations can be a bit jarring, and come off as trying too hard.

Concluding thoughts

While these phrases aren’t necessarily incorrect when used, one should evaluate the appropriateness when incorporating them into their conversations. 

It’s important to judge the other person’s reactions, the way they speak and interact as well, and of course, the setting and context.

You wouldn’t want to come off as compensating for something or trying too hard to prove that you’re something you’re not.

As a general guideline, it’s good to go with what you’re confident with. Because this shows in the way you carry yourself, and the way you speak.

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley

Eliza Hartley, a London-based writer, is passionate about helping others discover the power of self-improvement. Her approach combines everyday wisdom with practical strategies, shaped by her own journey overcoming personal challenges. Eliza's articles resonate with those seeking to navigate life's complexities with grace and strength.

Enhance your experience of Ideapod and join Tribe, our community of free thinkers and seekers.

Related articles

Most read articles

Get our articles

Ideapod news, articles, and resources, sent straight to your inbox every month.