Can we stop ‘going forward’?

I have noticed in public discourse an increased use of the phrase ‘going forward’ or alternatively ‘moving forward’. It is used usually in sentences such as “This is what we should we do going forward” and what is noticeable is that the phrase almost never serves any useful function and can be dropped without any loss of meaning, since the rest of the sentence already implies some future action. It seems to be there purely as a filler.

In his widely read 1946 essay Politics and the English Language, George Orwell warned that it is easy for writers to slip into inserting ready-made phrases into sentences whose sole purpose is to make the mundane seem profound or because they sound good.

As I have tried to show, modern writing at its worst does not consist in picking out words for the sake of their meaning and inventing images in order to make the meaning clearer. It consists in gumming together long strips of words which have already been set in order by someone else, and making the results presentable by sheer humbug. The attraction of this way of writing is that it is easy. It is easier — even quicker, once you have the habit — to say In my opinion it is not an unjustifiable assumption that than to say I think. If you use ready-made phrases, you not only don’t have to hunt about for the words; you also don’t have to bother with the rhythms of your sentences since these phrases are generally so arranged as to be more or less euphonious. When you are composing in a hurry — when you are dictating to a stenographer, for instance, or making a public speech — it is natural to fall into a pretentious, Latinized style. Tags like a consideration which we should do well to bear in mind or a conclusion to which all of us would readily assent will save many a sentence from coming down with a bump.

I have to admit that I am guilty of doing this kind of thing all the time, especially with blog posts when I am writing quickly and don’t have time to revise and revise and revise again in order to identify redundant and filler phrases and eliminate them. I hope to do better going forward.


  1. jrkrideau says

    Let me say this about that. We must prioritize our use of language to enable all Canadians to dialogue together.

  2. chigau (違う) says

    Sometimes weather forecasters say that the chance of precipitation increases as we go into the overnight period.
    “It will probably rain before morning.”

  3. Acolyte of Sagan says

    ‘Going forward’ seems to be the preferred phrase of those caught in a scandal of some kind.

  4. jrkrideau says

    @ 2 chigau
    Depending on where you live, in a twenty-four hour period you might get snow, sleet, hail, freezing rain, rain or all of the above . And there is an outside change of cats, dogs, fish and grasshoppers.

    The precipitation weasel-word let’s the presenter avoid that admitting they think something is going to fall out of the sky but they are not, quite sure what.

  5. Steve Cameron says

    I can honestly say, if I’m being frank, putting it truthfully, that when I read this post it came to me that I was of the thinking that there would be more comments like this one. Perhaps I need to elaborate….

  6. chigau (違う) says

    jrkrideau #4
    All true.
    I object to my inclusion in a supposed process of “moving” “through” “time”.
    kinda like the OP

  7. file thirteen says

    I have to admit that I am guilty of doing this kind of thing all the time

    FTFY 🙂

  8. sabai456 says

    “Going forward” is not only redundant, but it also implies there is an alternative to going forward.

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