Say what you mean and mean what you say Writing & Grammar

Hello everyone:

This morning I was reading one of my favorite decorating magazines (I was a decorator for 23 years), when I noticed the text underneath an absolutely stunning house. The author was writing about front porches, which I happen to love. What was unlovable was what he said.

He said, “This doors-flung-open, arms-spread-wide greeting dissolves me immediately.” What???? That dissolving business sounds painful. I mean, we are talking about front porches here, aren’t we? What was this fellow thinking? What was his editor thinking?

Tell you what, my friend, this dissolving business sounds very painful and we just had our road resurfaced. All of the houses on my street have front porches, so if you’re going to dissolve over them, please do so elsewhere. The new road cost us a lot of money.

This said, please tell me what you’re going to tell me and leave the flowery stuff behind. Far behind, if you please.

Sometimes students think that throwing in a big word or two is helpful to their overall scholarship and academic writing. (Kinda like this last sentence- I didn’t need to use the word “scholarship” – I just wanted to impress you with my use of big words.)

A favorite word of undergraduate students is “within.” For example, the student will write “Within this paper, I am going to …..” Nope. You are going to write “in” your paper, not from within it. (I once decorated a nine foot wreath- I was decorating from within, simply because I couldn’t reach across it.) Trust me, you are not jumping into your computer to write the paper from “within” anything.

Folks, keep it simple, keep it plain, and don’t dissolve into anything. If you absolutely must dissolve, please do it some place besides my street. Thanks.

Best,

Dr. Sheri


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Sheri Dean Parmelee has a Ph.D. in Communication Studies from Regent University. She writes books on practical tips for people who become unexpectedly unmarried and is working on her second novel in a series of contemporary romance/suspense novels. She teaches at three colleges, working with students from freshmen to graduate students. Her hobbies include running 8 miles a day and reading biographies and fiction.

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