A Tuesday Tip on A Phrase Pet Peeve(Or Maybe It’s Just me)

I came across a line today that went something like this:

“Each of us has, as a person, vast potential.”

Ack. Why do writers (and speakers) feel the need to qualify that “us”? As if as a person, we have tons of potential, but maybe, as a cat ( to use a for instance), things might be different.

Admit it. You’ve heard that phrase “as a person” used all the time and maybe you never thought about it. But when I hear “as a person,” and the Beneficent Mr. Hall is around, I turn to him and say, “The poor extraterrestrials are feeling left out now.”

“As a person.” It’s one of those phrases that’s unnecessary. So please, just keep it simple: “Each of us has vast potential.” I guarantee we’ll know you’re talking about humans.

(Unless you’re writing sci-fi. And then it’s perfectly acceptable to say, “Each of us has, as one-eyed purple people eaters, vast potential.”)

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5 thoughts on “A Tuesday Tip on A Phrase Pet Peeve(Or Maybe It’s Just me)

  1. My cat wants you to know that achieving vast potential is not applicable to felines as they are inherently all-knowing. So now you know. (My dog didn't care. He just wants a treat.) :pThanks for the reminder that "brevity is a virtue." This is one of the reasons I love having you for a critique partner and claiming you as my writing Yoda.(Totally unrelated–and you'll note this is the longest "not brief" comment ever–one of the docs I do transcription for likes to start his paragraphs with the phrase: "Briefly allow me to say. . ." The minute he says that, I know it will be a really looong report. LOL

  2. I have to admit, I've never noticed this before. That probably means I do it all the time. It also means that I, as a person, have a limited potential. 🙂 It further means I'll be finding it everywhere from now on.

  3. Y'all crack me up!Kathy, kudos on the tight technical writing–Tech writing's tough!Lisa, I love "Briefly allow me to say…" You HAVE to use that somewhere!Laughing out loud at your comment, Linda! (P.S. You probably think I haven't noticed that you keep it tight on the blog. Oh, but I have. ;-)Debra, you made me laugh, too. I guarantee that you'll find it a dozen times (Know where I notice it the most? In sermons–usually it shows up as the "as human beings" rather than "as a person." Um, don't tell Nathanael! 😉

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