I hate to admit it, but words are my pet peeve. When it comes to writing, using too many of them unnecessarily and, even worse, using them wrongly, really drives me up the wall. Are you one of those people who writes about things you “could of” done? Stop. It’s “could have”, as in you could have done this or that. What does “could of” even mean? Let’s not even get started on the “you’re” versus “your” or “it” versus “it’s” debacle. The short answer is this: apostrophes are used in contractions, which means two words have been shortened. “You’re” means “you are” and “it’s” means “it is”. So you can say “It’s my fault” but not “Put it in it’s rightful place”, just like you can say “You’re my best friend” but not “Mind you’re business”. Got it?
I think you might be getting the picture of how much these common mistakes rile me up. If you want a few pointers on some words that might need to be dropped from your vocabulary, keep reading. Bear in mind (again, it’s “bear” which could also mean to “carry” and not “bare” which could mean “empty” or “naked”) that these words tend to be repeat offenders because we use them too much, and not necessarily because they need to become entirely extinct. Also, speaking tends to be far more colloquial than writing so some of these are more applicable to helping you write succinctly. If you spoke like a grammar textbook, your friends might stop hanging out with you and I won’t take the blame for that.
We often overuse this word, especially when we use it to describe people. “I know a guy that went to school with Taylor Swift” sounds better as “I know a guy who went to school with Taylor Swift”.
Let’s be honest, when we use these words, we’re usually exaggerating or just using them incorrectly. Take “honestly” for example. If you emphasize that one part of your statement is honest, are you implying that others are not? Is this a disclaimer we all need to start adding to everything we say? Probably not, right? With “literally”, the problem is usually just a blatant misuse of the word. “Literal” means exact. For instance, if you took the encouraging statement “Break a leg” literally, you would end up in the hospital. With this example, you might see how it would be wrong to use this word as emphasis. With “really” and “absolutely”, the truth is we’re often just being unnecessarily repetitive. Then again, I really love Beyonce so just saying she’s perfect wouldn’t cut it for me. She is ABSOLUTELY perfect. I might let you off on that one.
“Very” is a tricky one because there is usually a more succinct way of saying something instead of describing it as “very” something else. For instance, “very small” could simply be “tiny” or “minute”, “very big” could be “gigantic”, “very wet” could be “drenched” – the list is endless. Particularly when writing, your text might read better with well selected words which pass across your message more clearly, instead of simply stating that it is “very” this or that.
This is another culprit when it comes to exaggeration. Throw in an “absolutely” or a “really” and you’ve hit the jackpot.
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