Instead of using words like shallow or superficial to describe a thought or an idea, we tend to like to phrase it in a way that sounds less offensive but still delivers the message.

Above is a sentence I wrote in an article on euphemism. There are two parts that I am concerned about.

First, "tend to like to" comes off as both odd and redundant. I guess the meaning won't change much if "like to" is omitted. However, in google ngram I did find a handful of cases where such expression is used.

The other thing that I am not quite sure about is the "but" following after "offensive". The idea of the "but" here was to emphasize the importance of delivering the message as it is while using euphemism. And the "but" is placed there to modify "the way". But I don't know if it sounds right to you. It somehow sounds a little bit clunky to me. Below is the rewritten version:

...to phrase it in a less-offensive way without changing the message.

  • I'm not sure why you say that "but" modifies "the way".
    – BillJ
    Feb 6, 2021 at 19:38

1 Answer 1


The sentence sounds clunky because it is clunky and over-written.

The issues:

Redundancy: there is no meaningful difference between a thought and an idea. So drop one of them.

to tend to and to tend to like to come down to the same thing. We don't tend to do things that we dislike. So drop to like to.

The it in to phrase it doesn't really work here as a reference to the whole introductory clause. You need to find another way of saying this.

There is no problem using but as a conjunction to link the two clauses.

So an improvement might be:
Instead of using words like shallow or superficial to describe an idea, we tend to choose descriptions that sound less offensive but still deliver the message.

(This answer really amounts to proof-reading, which is not a service offered on this site but in this instance it addresses your question.)

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