Bloody Well Write

October 28, 2009

Pet peeve No. 17: honestly, to tell you the truth and other questionable truisms

Filed under: grammar — bloodywellwrite @ 1:15 pm
Tags: , , , , ,

Believe you me, I hear — or see in print — those seemingly innocuous little words and phrases, such as honestly, sincerely, frankly, to tell you the truth and believe me, a lot. And when I say a lot, I really mean a lot.

I’m probably guilty of using a few of them in writings. Why? Not sure, really. Perhaps I was trying to emphasize something. To prove that I absolutely knew what I was writing about. To seem über-sincere. To up my word count for ENGL 726.

No matter. I didn’t fool anyone worth fooling. I absolutely didn’t fool my ENGL 726 professor.

The point is, truly (!), that whenever I come across one of those words or phrases these days, I automatically doubt the rest of the story. If it must begin with To tell the truth, what else am I supposed to believe but that everything that has come before is of questionable validity? You’ve been spoon-feeding me a big, fat lie up until this point but, to tell you the truth, the rest of what’s to come is honest-to-goodness true stuff. Yeah, that sounds trustworthy and believable. Hmph.

Honestly, how else am I supposed to react? Those phrases have flim-flam man written all over them.

The idea here is this: Say what you mean to say. Don’t add silly phrases that make you seem insincere; just be sincere. Say what you mean and mean what you say — don’t say that you mean it. Say it, don’t spray it. (Oh, wait a minute. That’s for another entry.)

Happy trails!

SAK

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