Jillian Is.

5 words you should definitely always never say

I'm Looking At You

You know what I’m talking about: people like to use hyperbole to illustrate their points. Except while these points are being emphasized, somehow the truth slips through the cracks. Remember when your teachers, parents, bosses and mentors used to tell you: be concise, clear, and get to the point. It went without saying (or maybe not, right?) that the truth part needs to play the central role.

So here are five words you should think twice about using in your blog, article, or facebook/twitter, lest people like me sprinkle a few more grains of salt on your words.

1: Always avoid saying Always unless you can prove it.

The thing with saying always is that it’s always inaccurate. Consider for a moment that someone who doesn’t know better takes you at your word and engages in activities depending on the assertion you made that “xxx” always happens when you “xxx.” Not to mention the looming spectre of immediately being proven wrong (never fun).

2: Never assert that things Never happen or No one does “xxx.”

That’s right — unless you can prove it. For the same reasons as Always.

3: Every time I see someone declare Everything or All of something is [insert noun], it rankles.

Particularly because it implies the speaker has had every experience possible and has deduced that no other options exist. Additionally, the speaker thinks even if there could be other options, they don’t matter, and neither do you if you are one of those silly “some” people. Is that the impression you want to give?

4: Mostly when you mention most of something, it’s a guess or worse: made up…

Have you noticed when people say, “most of those guys don’t know what they’re talking about,” they don’t actually know ‘most of those guys,’ let alone what they are talking about? Context plays a huge role in the use of ‘most’ so make sure you indicate that your knowledge actually includes most of your subject.

5: Literally everyone is guilty of assigning this literal adjective to non literal things.

Example: his face went so slack with amazement, it literally slid off.  Can a face slide off in reaction to…well, anything except acid or extreme heat? No. But ‘literally’ is used inaccurately every day. Don’t be lured into that trap. Be strong.

But this is just the word of One Jillian. What say you? What words should I always never say?

Jillian (7 Posts)

You've probably seen me before: I'm a Millennial/GenY Social Media, Community Management and SEO pro, who tinkers with websites and blogs in her off hours. As a hobby? I teach myself to read, write and speak Korean. I keep up with French as well. Oh yeah - I have natural hair. My most recent Big Chop? January 2013. In short, I'm your typical nerd stew.

5 comments for “5 words you should definitely always never say

  1. October 21, 2010 at 12:17 pm

    Can I add one, in the same vein as “literally”?

    I am repulsed by the frequent and inaccurate use of the word “actually.”

    “Did you do that thing I asked you to do?”
    “Actually, I was on my way to do it right now.”

    As opposed, of course, to:

    “Theoretically, I was on my way to do it.”

    No one asked you if you would theoretically do something. (Unless they did. But that would be very poor instruction.) No one said, “In theory, you’re not on your way to doing that thing I asked you to do.” Unless you’re talking about what is true in relation to what is assumed to be true, do not use the word “actually.”

    Great post!


    • thejillian
      October 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm

      Thank you, Matt–

      Actually, I don’t mind that one…kidding! Thank you for the addition, yes, actually is a word used more often than necessary. I think it might have all started with the use of BAD for GOOD.

  2. October 19, 2010 at 7:36 pm

    Great points, Jillian. In Twitter especially (along with Blog headlines) it’s easy to use hyperbole to try to stick out. In the end though, this can lead us to shallow concepts that we can’t really back up.

    An important reminder!

    • thejillian
      October 19, 2010 at 10:15 pm

      Thank you for your comment Marjorie.

      It is easy to over simplify on the internet, because a person is tempted to think any reader is curious enough to search out additional information and pick out what was context and what was a false claim.