Tuesday, April 14, 2009

True Confessions of a Word Hater

I mentioned how much I hate the word stuff.

Yesterday, I spent the day scoring state writing assessments (each paper receives two local ratings before being sent to the state office), and the process reminded me of my all-time least favorite word:

Get.

Possibly the weakest verb on the planet, but one to which my students have a rather unhealthy addiction. To make my point, I have been known to write "get" on a piece of paper, tear it into several pieces, and stomp on the remains. One student started calling me "Fuzzy Grammar" and said I should take the show on the road as performance art.

Yes, stuff ires me. Get makes me see red. When I write, I only allow "get" into the prose during dialogue. People say "get" all the time; I say "get" from time to time. But when you write, is that really the best verb you can use?

11 comments:

Catherine J Gardner said...

Hangs head in shame and wonders how often she uses the word 'get'.

Ooh, and I bet you love the saying 'get stuffed'... Do they say that in the US?

Aaron Polson said...

Actually, I do like that expression, but nobody really says it around here.

K.C. Shaw said...

At this rate, I'm going to have more words/constructions to avoid than to use. I don't even think about "get." Until now.

Seriously, one guy in my old writer's group mentioned one time that someone had once told him to avoid using "was" or "were" in the first sentence of a story (no doubt to try and avoid passivity from the start), and now I twist myself in knots to follow that rule.

Aaron Polson said...

Don't worry about it on my account, K.C., I'm mainly ranting about my students.

I do agree with the was/were recommendation, but there are always exceptions.

Natalie L. Sin said...

I'm with you on word redundancy while writing. I recently read a book where the author used the same word in two consecutive sentences and it took me right of the action.

Rebecca Nazar said...

My mom is so supportive. She wants to like my work. She'll read a story, give me a pained look and say, "I don't get it". *sigh*. I don't like "get".

katey said...

I hate "get" (not a huge fan of the overuse of "feel" and its permutations either, though that's all right in moderation), and I'm always turned off by the "was/were" thing, too, now that someone mentions it. Oh, and Nat's thing about the overuse of a given word. And--

God. How do I ever read anything at all? Writing makes us so anal retentive.

But we're RIGHT, dammit!

Aaron Polson said...

Natalie - all the time

Rebecca - sounds just like my mother...

Katey - hell yeah (resounding applause)

Jamie Eyberg said...

my main peeve is the phrase 'I seen it.'

I hear it on the news all the time when they interview people.

Danielle Ferries said...

I'm not a fan of "got" and yet it still sneaks into my stories sometimes.

Aaron Polson said...

Jamie - I seen that on the news, too. (I couldn't help myself)

Danielle - Get/Got/Gotten is a tricky word family.