From ragan.com and quite good.
Meaningless phrases people use every day
By Matt Wilson
Start at the beginning
Isn’t that where I would expect you to start? You’d really only need to warn me if you were starting somewhere weird there, Horace, like the middle, the end or somehow before the beginning.
Let me begin by saying
Is someone stopping you? Just say it! This is the rhetorical equivalent of, “I am now going to write about.” They teach second-graders not to start their essays that way, so keep it out of your adult conversations.
We, as human beings
As opposed to what? We, as robots? We, as orangutans? Unless you’re speaking to or writing for some especially diverse audiences, you can just say “we.”
Yes, someone said it. And that ought to be pretty evident to everyone else who either heard it or read it. You don’t really need to reiterate that something was said. If you’re offering a counterargument to that statement, a “however,” “conversely” or “but” will do just fine.
Happens to be
Sometimes a coincidence can be so shocking that a “happens to be” may be justified. But in most cases, it’s just a cute way of pointing out someone or something has an interesting or unusual trait, like “That vagrant just happens to be my nephew.” All you need is “is.” That vagrant is your nephew.
All things considered
Here’s what you’re saying when you say this: “Anytime I don’t use this phrase, I’m only considering some things when I make judgments.” Or possibly, “I’m making a too-cute joke about the NPR program of the same name.” In either case, they’re not really statements you want to make.
All in all
As I think about what this phrase could have originally meant or what it could really mean, my brain has tied itself into a Gordian knot. Is it the opposite of “none in none”? A contrast to “some in some”? Is it supposed to imply that every single thing has been fitted into every other thing?
I’d better lie down now.
At the end of the day
Like the previous two, this phrase signals that you’re about to sum up all the various pieces of your argument and come to a conclusion. But what does that have to do with the time of day? Almost always nothing. What you’re talking about might even be happening in the morning!
In order to
What you really mean is “to.” The last time an “in order” was justified, it was in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution. And I’m only cutting James Madison some slack because of the whole three branches of government idea and the Bill of Rights. Plus, he was writing back when a lowercase “s” looked like an “f.” Times have changed.
In all its forms
Ahhh! Look out! It’s a shape-shifter!
But seriously, you really don’t need to point out that you like chocolate “in all its forms.” For one thing, that should be self-evident. For another, chocolate is pretty much chocolate, regardless of its physical state.