WHEN APPROPRIATE ISN’T

Many people use some words that don’t really need to be there. A great example is “appropriate,” as it’s used in sentences such as “once we review the information, we’ll take appropriate action.”

 

However, saying “once we review the information, we’ll take action” is every bit as meaningful and effective. And because it says the exact same thing in fewer words, the language is more economical – and that’s always a good thing.

 

When is it appropriate to use “appropriate”? When you’re trying to distinguish the course of action you’re planning to take from an inappropriate one.

2 Responses to WHEN APPROPRIATE ISN’T

  1. whitt January 9, 2015 at 8:48 am #

    I disagree. To say “…we’ll take action” might IMPLY that it will be appropriate, but the writer is hoping that the reader will make the assumption that whatever action is taken, will be appropriate. I am certain that you can easily refer to MANY examples of actions taken that were not appropriate. Most public entities (Government, NFL, Airlines, Universities) should probably say “… we’ll take the action that will minimize our exposure to lawsuits or negative feedback…”

    At least if you SAY that you are taking “appropriate action”, you are giving some assurance of integrity. (Unless you are a gangster, and everyone knows what “taking action” means. You could probably drop the use of “appropriate”.)

    I also disagree that more economical language is “always a good thing”. MANY books that I have read have been enjoyable to me due to the exquisite use of the language, NOT merely due to economy of phrase.

    Perhaps I do not understand who your target audience is.

    • Scott Flood January 9, 2015 at 10:33 am #

      We don’t necessarily disagree. When there’s a reason to differentiate an action, appropriate is definitely appropriate. My contention is that it’s often added as an ornament instead of a necessity.

      And as for my thoughts on economy of language, I’m referring to marketing communications tools. I love to linger over well-written paragraphs in books, too. But even there, economy can make reading even more pleasurable.

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!