Writing Tips

Writing Techniques

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A Unique Problem

Why Not to Modify "Absolutes"


Let's get intellectual for a moment. Think of absolutes as atoms, unadulterated. Absolutes derive the essence of their meaning from being incapable of modification: blank, endless, favorite, pure, square, true, unanimous, unique. Absolutes are complete within themselves, self-sufficient, immutable. One thing cannot be more obvious than another. Or flatter. Or smoother. Or more essential. Obvious is obvious. Flat is flat. Smooth is smooth. Essential is essential. Absolutes have no degrees. They are; or they aren’t.


Tip 1: Don’t use absolutes to compare:

We lawyers breathe logic. Using comparative and superlative forms with absolutes defies logic: One round object cannot be rounder than another round object. One round object cannot be the roundest of all round objects.

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Tip 2: Don’t modify absolutes with qualifiers:

Another angle on logic: Nothing can be more unique than unique, more blank than blank, less pure than pure. But qualifiers try: really unique, completely blank, somewhat pure. When we modify absolutes with qualifiers, we destroy their meaning.


Tip 3: Other modifiers are okay:

Other modifiers might correctly express a point just short of the absolute: Although we may not correctly make a vote more unanimous than unanimous, e.g., truly unanimous, we may describe a vote as nearly unanimous (only one nay).


Use absolutes as they are intended to be used: as self-contained, confident words, unhindered by comparisons, unadorned with qualifiers.

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About Gary Kinder

Gary Kinder

WordRake founder Gary Kinder has taught over 1,000 writing programs for AMLAW 100 firms, Fortune 500 companies, and government agencies. He’s also a New York Times bestselling author. As a writing expert and coach, Gary was inspired to create WordRake when he noticed a pattern in writing errors that he thought he could address with technology.

In 2012, Gary and his team of engineers created WordRake editing software to help writers produce clear, concise, and effective prose. It saves time and gives confidence. Writing and editing has never been easier.

WordRake takes you beyond the merely grammatical to the truly great—the quality editor you’ve always wanted. See for yourself.

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How Does it Work?

WordRake is editing software designed by writing expert and New York Times bestselling author Gary Kinder. Like an editor or helpful colleague, WordRake ripples through your document checking for needless words and cumbersome phrases. Its complex algorithms find and improve weak lead-ins, confusing language, and high-level grammar and usage slips.

WordRake runs in Microsoft Word and Outlook, and its suggestions appear in the familiar track-changes style. If you’ve used track changes, you already know how to use WordRake. There’s nothing to learn and nothing to interpret. Editing for clarity and brevity has never been easier.