hawkgrrrl: My So-Called Post

March 31, 2015

I’m a word nerd, so I always find it interesting when a simple change to grammar alters the meaning of a word or sentence.  Time magazine recently pointed out one grammatical faux pas:  using “actually” can be a red flag. From this article (reprinted from Inc.):

Extra words used in a sales presentation or investor pitch are unnecessary. They subconsciously point listeners to question if there’s more unspoken information. The word “actually” serves as a spoken pause, giving the presenter’s brain time to catch up and decide how to resolve the conflict in their mind between the question asked and reality.

Actually can point to something in contrast to what is expected; for example, (per the article) if you ask someone “Did you get milk at the store?” and they respond, “Actually, I went to the gas station,” they are pointing out that you expected them to get milk at the store, but ha-ha, there is justification to get milk at the gas station, which is what they did, thwarting your heteronormative patriarchal expectations.  Or something like that.

If you ask your son, “Did you finish all your homework?” and he starts with “Actually . . . ” well, as parents, we are immediately suspicious. [1]  He may be deciding how to answer while he’s stringing out the “actually.” ….

The rest of the article can be found at Wheat and Tares

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