Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I need a way to say something is useless, in that including it is actually harmful, but not so harshly.

As in,

"The last sentence is useless and should be omitted"

Where the last sentence in a paragraph is run-on, blather, useless, not interesting, misleading, something like that, kind of like this one ;)

share|improve this question
3  
How did Thesaurus redundicus answer such queries? –  tchrist Jul 30 '12 at 17:03
6  
did you attempt to look "useless" up in an online thesaurus before asking? What did you find there? Why did it not meet your needs? –  Jeff Atwood Jul 30 '12 at 20:11
1  
This question clearly doesn't meet SE quality standards, it's easily answered with a thesaurus. –  Nathan C. Tresch Jul 30 '12 at 23:47
    
What about "off topic or not constructive" like we see with closed questions on SE. –  Brandon Bertelsen Jul 31 '12 at 2:59
    
@BrandonBertelsen We also have the general reference close reason here on EL&U. –  z7sg Ѫ Jul 31 '12 at 15:50

12 Answers 12

up vote 30 down vote accepted

Consider extraneous, "Not belonging to, or dependent upon, a thing; without or beyond a thing; foreign", and synonyms like superfluous ("in excess of what is required or sufficient") or pleonastic ("Using an excessive number of words"). Other synonyms of superfluous include excessive, extra, supernumerary, surplus, unnecessary, extravagant, some of which apply.

share|improve this answer
6  
I like superfluous –  Chris Cudmore Jul 30 '12 at 18:07
    
Definitely not pleonastic, since they'd need a dictionary to know what you mean (and maybe not even a common dictionary, considering my OS is highlighting that word as "misspelled"). –  Brendan Long Jul 30 '12 at 22:14
    
@BrendanLong, Yes, pleonastic may be a new word to some people, but since everybody (on ELU, anyway:) knows the word pleonasm ("Redundancy in wording") I thought it might not be too far out of the way. –  jwpat7 Jul 30 '12 at 22:28
    
I'm only upvoting because of superfluous. We don't know exactly how much negativity OP's original "useless" is supposed to convey, but most likely it's a bit more than comes through with unnecessary. All the other suggestions are just a bit off the beaten track. –  FumbleFingers Jul 30 '12 at 22:29
1  
@jwpat7: On reflection I can see the justification for either - both words have very similar connotations here. I still think superfluous would be used more often (if only because it's a more common word). I'm reading "useless" as primarily "serving no purpose", rather than "damaging by its very presence". –  FumbleFingers Jul 31 '12 at 1:55

How about ignored? The last sentence may be ignored for the better. say it diplomatically.

share|improve this answer

You can use crap:

The last sentence is crap and should be removed.

It gives you quite a bit of room to think later on what you meant by crap and how you wish to express the disapproval.

Also, you can also use dispensable:

The last sentence is dispensable and should be removed.

share|improve this answer
1  
If the OP thinks useless is too harsh, how the heck would crap be an improvement? –  Marthaª Sep 26 '12 at 17:10

How about "last sentence is ineffectual — delete"?

share|improve this answer

I use redundant when someone has written something repetitive and unnecessary.

share|improve this answer

I would suggest “irrelevant to the content/subject matter.” My old English professor would just call it “verbal deadwood.” So, in comparison, “useless: should be omitted” actually sounds kind.

share|improve this answer

You could say, "Your last sentence detracts from an otherwise good paragraph. I think your point would be better made by deleting that sentence."

share|improve this answer

In general, the sense of "useless" is that of something which will not bring any result (good or bad), in your example it seems that it is not the case of being useless, as using that sentence could result in a bad outcome.

You could say that the sentence is "not constructive", meaning that it is not going to bring about anything good and could actually do some harm if used.

share|improve this answer

I would say the last sentence distracts from the intention of the paragraph and should be omitted.

share|improve this answer

Sometimes English just doesn't contain a word with the precise meaning you desire.

That said, I offer irrelevant and unnecessary as options. I would contend that both are semantically equivalent to useless (which--as Jeff Atwood points out--is a still a perfectly good word for your situation), but they tend more to the negative in my mind.

share|improve this answer

I've seen surplusage used in similar contexts. Strictly it just means superfluous, but 'where it is not necessary to have a sentence, it is necessary not to have a sentence.'

share|improve this answer

My preference in this instance would be to use either prejudicial or detrimental as they convey the sense of 'harmful' as requested.

share|improve this answer
1  
+1 for detrimental; but prejudicial may have harsher overtones than OP desires. –  jwpat7 Jul 30 '12 at 17:57
    
@jwpat7 Thanks. I felt that 'prejudicial' conveyed the required professional sense of 'harmful.' There are varying degrees of prejudice and I never thought it particularly harsh. –  Tony Balmforth Jul 30 '12 at 18:26
1  
@TonyBalmforth, seems like prejudice would have overtly negative assumptions attached to it in a general and professional sense though. –  ardentsonata Jul 30 '12 at 20:22
    
@ardentsonata I still quite like it. It doesn't seem any more negative than either 'useless' or 'harmful' but perhaps it's me! –  Tony Balmforth Jul 30 '12 at 21:47

protected by RegDwigнt Sep 25 '12 at 20:35

Thank you for your interest in this question. Because it has attracted low-quality answers, posting an answer now requires 10 reputation on this site.

Would you like to answer one of these unanswered questions instead?

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.