Thursday, February 19, 2015

Weak Words – Gotta Stop That

I have a problem. I really like words like really and very, which are members of the “5 weak words to avoid” list documented here:

Really is #1 on the list because it is a vague intensifier. Really vague Smile

Very is #5 on the list because it adds nothing and is unnecessary. Very unnecessary Smile

So let’s all agree to stop using such weasel words as filler. Instead, let’s agree to write confidently and allow our opinions (and frankly our unheralded brilliance) to stand alone – without weakening them.

I wrote this piece because my son (graduated English Literature with distinction) lambasted me over using very the other day. And then today I watched a video and heard this pair of sentences that caused a cringe.

In order for companies to really serve consumers really well, here's what they're going to have to do. They're going to have to really really understand the customer.

Note that removal of the weak intensifiers exposes the message as meaningless and potentially insulting, since companies have presumably worked at understanding their customers before today.

It is time to banish these words from your writing and your speaking!