Are you abusing the word "literally"? Your 3-minute intervention #writinglegally

Posted on 03-18-2015 by
Tags: writinglegally , legal writing , #writinglegally , Latest Headlines & Stories

Are you one of those people who uses the word “literally” a lot (and probably not correctly in many instances). Don’t worry, you can get some help. Here are some things consider to help you with you “literally” problem. Consider it a “literally” intervention thanks to medium.

First off, let’s define the word. According to medium, “literally means actually…you’re describing the scene or situation as it actually happened.

So when is a good time to use the word?

Use the word only when you mean it. An example of this is saying, “That movie was so funny I literally cried.” It is quite possible you could cry because a movie was so funny.

Consider this: When In Doubt, Leave It Out.

One way we try to get ideas across is by exaggerations. We say things such as “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” or “That play was so funny I laughed my head off.” These sayings tell us that you are hungry and that play was that funny, respectively, however neither of these would work with a ‘literally’ placed in the statement.

For example, you cannot say, “I’m so hungry I could literally eat a horse.” It’s false because nobody has a stomach big enough to be able to eat an entire horse in one sitting. It’s not possible.

There are many reasons people overuse or misuse the word. The problem for some people arises from peoples’ lack of belief in stories you have told before while others misuse it to annoy their “know-it-all” friends. Regardless of the reason, you must stop.

I’m not saying I’m perfect because I am not. In fact, I catch myself misusing it sometimes, but it’ll be better once we not only understand the correct use of the word, but implement those ways as well. So next time, before you feel the urge to use the word, think to yourself: if I use ‘literally’, can this occurrence be possible?

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