“The goal is livelier writing. The result can be confusion”: “‘Use More Expressive Words!’ Teachers Bark, Beseech, Implore” (The Wall Street Journal ).
Removing empty words such as really from formal prose is a good thing. But for teachers to ban, say, I , it , said , see , walk , and why as “dead words”: that way madness lies. Such teachers fail to understand that putting in “better” words is not the way to better writing, and that plain words typically offer the most intelligent way to say what needs to be said. Dressing up in an awkward costume doesn’t make a writer look smart. It makes a writer look awkward — and dumb. Did I peruse the tome? No, I read the book.
The dumbness of one board of education’s “Said is Dead” list may be seen in its details: spieled , whistled , and verbalized, for instance, are preposterous substitutes for said. And miffed is not a substitute at all. (“Dumb list,” he miffed.) At least they were smart enough to leave out ejaculated .
From The Elements of Style, fourth edition:
Inexperienced writers not only overwork their adverbs but load their attributives with explanatory verbs: “he consoled,” “she congratulated.” They do this, apparently, in the belief that the word said is always in need of support, or because they have been told to do it by experts in the art of bad writing.Note especially the last sixteen words.
Beware of the saurus : Ending a sentence with it