Let go of the lame qualifiers

Great idea for this blog post

I got the idea to resurrect my Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style from Kathryn Magendie. She recently did a post on her “Monday Classroom” series that inspired me to dig out the ole S&W.

I read through The Elements of Style again, and was overloaded with great ideas for blogs.

Qualifying words

These are the pretty little words we tack on too often when we might be somewhat unsure how to qualify a noun or word group.

‘Splain it me

Merriam-Webster says, of “qualifier” – “a word (as an adjective) or word group that limits or modifies the meaning of another word (as a noun) or word group.”

Qualifying words can be lame words or phrases you don’t need.

Here’s a short list

I got this list from About.com

“Very, quite, rather, somewhat, more, most, less, least, too, so, just, enough, indeed, still, almost, fairly, really, pretty, even, a bit, a little, a lot, a good deal, a great deal, kind of, sort of.”

Edit for qualifiers

I won’t tell you to get rid of all qualifiers – certainly not in normal conversation or Facebook posts or blogs. But do an “editing/find” on your manuscript – I’ll bet you could get rid of a great deal of the pretty little qualifiers that you kind of don’t need.

What qualifiers do you tend to overuse?

Photo – Prettygirlsmama, Photobucket.com


Filed under Editing & Proofreading

16 responses to “Let go of the lame qualifiers

  1. I have to watch this because I write “southern fiction” (and appalachian fiction) and boy do we like some of those qualifiers in our language! 😀 – so, I sprinkle them in there “with intent” — but, knowing what they are, I can “bend or break the rules” with that intent. Still, sometimes I catch myself auto-writing some of those 😀
    (thank you for the mention!)

    • I am guilty of using these too much as well. Good topic.
      Randy Mitchell

    • Your books are delightful with all the Southern qualifiers. Your fiction wouldn’t be the same without them! I find myself writing with a lot of qualifiers when I’m “in the zone.”

    • Hmmm, Kathryn, I’d think “Southern” and “Appalachian” in that context would be strong qualifiers, not weak ones since they serve a clear identifying purpose. What say you, Karen?

      • Honestly, with Kathryn Magendie’s books, I’d not change a word. Her books are AWESOME. All of them, “must read.”

        “Southern” and “Appalachian” give a certain feel to some of Kat’s books. I don’t like to hole up books into certain genres because each well-written book has many genres. Bottom line – read Kat. Her writing – along with King, Verne, and many others – are the must reads of any genre, any time.

  2. Karen,
    Thanks for the great reminder. I call these helper words. I wish Microsoft had an adverb eliminator feature. Thanks again.

  3. Robin G. Miller

    I love Kathryn’s book. I have it with me when ever I am writing. I am a retired teacher and I still need all the help I can get. If anyone is like me they tend to slip into bad habits and slang talk. Good post.

  4. I slip easily – when I’m writing – I just let it flow. Slang is okay, that’s what makes a novel feel more real. If that’s your voice, let it sing!

  5. Fantastic piece, Karen! I know you find lots of these when you edit my work, and I don’t know why I haven’t thought to do searches for them. I DO search for the words “that” and “thing” (as in things, something…) which are also weak or unnecessary words.

    I love it when you’re writing about writing and word usage (your expertise)! I can say from firsthand experience that you are an outstanding editor. You always may my writing look so much better than it would otherwise!

    • Ah, go on now. You humble me. I just know lots of stuff from reading, editing, proofreading…Every time I read and edit, I learn new writing techniques. I also learn that even I need an editor – Shawn MacKenzie is my editor and she is awesome.

  6. Oh I think this post is very nice, so well-written, and pretty well sums up what we need to watch for. Whee, did I have fun ‘qualifying’ myself?

    You’re great to remind us all to NOT use words like ‘very,’ or ‘pretty much,’ or ‘so,’ any word that just doesn’t need to be there (like ‘for’ at the end of a sentence!). I teach creative writing classes, and this rule is the one that surprises my students the most. They just never really think about them (uh oh, ‘just’ and ‘really’ are no nos.


  7. We are thinking along the same lines, Karen, for future blog posts! I use “really” and “just” “far too” often…I think I’m getting the drift!! Now I need to locate the find/editing tab…

  8. I often use “just” in first drafts. I try to get rid of them (they start to echo with me after a while). But sometimes you just need a “just.”

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