Another Thing Not to Do

Don’t cut the ground out from under your own feet.

There are some words and phrases that, while they’re meant to intensify the meaning of a word or phrase, more often have the effect of weakening it.  Very is one such; instead of adding a stronger punch to whatever it modifies, it suggests instead that the writer didn’t think the idea was mportant enough to spend time finding a better word.

Rather and somewhat have a similar effect; they undercut what’s being said.

And then there’s seem.  Most of the time, seem is better avoided — also seemingly and apparently and appear to be.  Don’t shilly-shally; if something is hot, say that it’s hot, not that it seems to be hot.

(This brief bit of crankiness brought to you by the temperature outside, which is currently -20 F, and by the question, “How warm can you keep a two-story house with a full basement in deep snow country?”, to which the answer is, “Never quite warm enough.”)

2 thoughts on “Another Thing Not to Do

  1. “Seems” also means “not really.”

    This is the old Dungeons and Dragons thing: If the DM says, “There seems to be a door on the north wall,” you can bet there isn’t one. And if she says, “The dragon seems to be asleep,” stand by. That dragon is awake and watching.

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