Published: 01st May 2020
Clarity of thought leads to clarity of expression: How to get the right words to convey the intended message
This is why you should limit your usage of the word 'very' to a bare minimum or replace it with words which signify deeper meaning
While composing a message or writing an email, we may get stuck in the middle as we do not get the right words to convey an intended message effectively. Almost everyone — teachers as well as learners of English, journalists, writers and others — has had this experience of struggling to get the right word. Some refer to dictionaries to find synonyms or seek the support of online resources. Clarity of thought leads to clarity of expression.
Consider this example. What words can replace ‘slow’ in the sentence ‘Slow the spread of virus’? A person with adequate knowledge of English may suggest the words: control, contain and curb. Yes, these three words can replace ‘slow’ in the sentence. Here are examples of how these words can be used in sentences:
- It is important to contain/curb/control/slow the spread of disinformation.
- The government should take measures to contain/curb/control/slow the spread of the deadly Coronavirus.
- We must appreciate the state government for taking steps to contain/curb/control/slow the spread of malaria.
Many learners of English are fond of using their ‘dear words’. In every piece of writing, they use certain words and phrases and, surprisingly, most of them are not aware of their overuse of such ‘dear words’. About two years ago, a friend sent me three of his articles and asked me to comment on them. I told him that his word choice is a problem. When I brought it to his notice, he said that he was not aware of his overuse of the word ‘very’. Robin Williams in Dead Poets Society advises his students not to use the word ‘very’: “So avoid using the word ‘very’ because it’s lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose.” In many cases, the word ‘very’ becomes redundant.
- I want you to read this very insightful article.
- I’m very excited to participate in the competition.
- It is a very crucial match for India.
- She is very fond of you.
- They are very exceptional students.
In the sentences above, even if the adverb ‘very’ is removed, the meaning will be the same.
Look at the sentence: We are very happy to attend your workshop. The phrase ‘very happy’ can be substituted with thrilled, pleased, delighted.
- We are pleased to attend your workshop.
The words in bold can replace ‘very’ phrases in the sentences below:
1. The poem has a very deep (profound) meaning.
2. You can solve it very easily (effortlessly).
3. She is a very friendly (amiable) girl.
4. I am against very old (archaic) practices.
5. They love him. He is a very funny (hilarious) guy.
Words are potent weapons for all causes, good or bad - Manly Hall