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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

5 Words to Ban from Your Vocabulary | Terri Trespicio , Healthy Living - Yahoo! Shine

Given the source of this article, Trespicio wrote it mostly for people looking to enhance their health and life style. But her legitimate banned-word suggestions for that purpose also are words to limit or use with care in writing and speaking for other purposes.

Trespicio writes:
I thought about what words we use on a regular basis and why it may serve us to drop them (or at least rethink our use of them). Now, it's fairly easy to recognize how using undeniably negative terms can cut into your happiness quotient. But what about the more subtle words, the ones that sneak in and sabotage you in ways you may not know? Here are five that we can very well do without.
Should

Trespicio writes:
"Should" is a hollow word that serves only to heighten your insecurity. So the sooner you drop it, the better.
But it's also sometimes misused or confused with the use of would. If you must use should, use it to express an obligation (meaning "ought to"), a condition (an "if" statement) or an expectation: We should help the needy. If I win the lottery, I should give at least 10 percent to charity. They should be back in 15 minutes. Use would to express a usual action, a hypothetical situation or a preference: In the summer we would spend hours by the seashore. She would do it if she could. I would like to see you.

Also, should of and would of are misspellings of should have and would have and the contractions should've and would've; same with could of, may of, might of, and must of for could have, could've, may have, might have or might've. In writing, the (correct) spelled-out version is less awkard than those contractions .


Nice

Trespicio writes:
It's a cop-out compliment, a verbally ambiguous, vague, and featureless comment that rarely does anyone any good. ...
I agree! Nice has many meanings, including "finicky," "precise and subtle," "delicate," and "scrupulous." And it's commonly used to mean "friendly, pretty, courteous, respectable or good." If you mean one of those words -- or any of the other definitions of nice -- be nice to your readers and use one of them. Or describe why you think something is "nice" He volunteers at the dog shelter; not He's niceTheir house has indoor plumbing; not Their house is nice. 

Successful

Trespicio writes: 
I don't want to rule out the notion of success, or of ambition for that matter. But I do challenge you to take note of how and when you use the term. Why? Because it's one of those amorphous, unquantifiable, blanket-type words we often use to describe other people's achievements. ...
Also, a form of successful -- successfully -- is often unnecessary: She finished the assignment successfully means the same as She finished the assignment.

Another form of successful, succeed, is commonly misspelled. It's one of only three English words that end in -ceed. The others are exceed and proceed

Never

Trespicio writes:
[I]t has an insidious way of becoming a prediction when you use it as a sweeping statement. ... Some people believe that this "never" mind-set becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, since, more often than not, you get what you expect in life. ... Any term that implies an "absolute" statement may be right for the wrong reasons or wrong for the right ones. And either way, you lose.
Also, avoid the wordy, redundant phrases never at any time and never ever. Instead, use never or not ever or not once

Busy 

Trespicio writes: 
[I]t reeks of a kind of better-than attitude. It's almost a status thing, a contest to see who's busier than whom, and whoever's more crazed wins. ... Being busy, after all, means that we're active, vital, and needed. So let's stop saying it to each other over and over. ...
Also, the difference between abstract and concrete words and ideas is relevant here. If it is important to express that you or a work group or an organization is "busy," give some examples.  That will help the reader or listener understand, and perhaps accept, what you mean by busy.

For more advice on word usage, check out Garbl's Editorial Style Manual and Garbl's Concise Writing Guide.


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