Warning! Inflated Language Ahead. If you use inflated language, you can sound stuffy and turn people off.
Here are 3 warning signs you are using inflated language:
1. If you have a tendency to use formal words in everyday conversation.
2. If you use the word myself when you should have used me or I.
3. If you use the word badly when you should have used bad.
Let’s take a look at each warning sign:
1. It is better to just say what you mean and not try to impress your listener with a $10 word.
- Don’t tell your children to stop prevaricating when you could just ask them to tell the truth.
- Don’t say, “That was a prodigious achievement” when you could say, “Good job.”
There are occasions when formal words are appropriate, but using big words to try and impress people may be a sign of inflated language.
2. The word “myself” is used very rarely. If you find yourself using it frequently, you may just think you sound educated.
In the sentences below, myself is used incorrectly:
- A visit with John and myself is just what you need.
- Please visit Jane and myself when you are in London.
The corrected sentences would be:
- A visit with John and me is just what you need.
- Please visit Jane and me when you are in London.
Myself is a reflexive pronoun that refers back to the pronoun I. When you use the word myself, the pronoun I to which it refers should be in the same sentence.
- Correct: I think I find myself in an awkward position.
Myself can used for emphasis or to show that the subject and the direct object are the same.
- For example: I will help myself.
It can also refer to one’s health.
- For example: I wasn’t quite myself yesterday.
Using myself when you shouldn’t can be a sign of inflated language.
3. Finally, be sure to use the adjective bad after a linking verb such as feel and was. Use the adverb badly after action verbs.
It is incorrect to say I feel badly. (That really means that your fingers are not working correctly.)
- Correct: I was bad yesterday and I’m sorry. (Note that was is a linking verb.)
- Correct: I behaved badly yesterday, and I’m sorry. (Note that behaved is an action verb.)
Keep the 3 warning signs that you are using inflated language in mind when you speak and write. The point is to say what you mean as clearly as possible. Using inflated language does not make a person sound smarter; it makes a person sound puffed up and stuffy.
Visit my store for a free exercise on Reducing Wordy Sentences.
Visit my store for an exercise on The ABC’s of Idioms and Inflated Language. Only $2.50.
All the best,
You might also like Charlene’s post about troublesome English grammar.
And Charlene has written a post about magaging paperwork for teachers at this link.