February 7, 2008
Weekly Language Usage Tips: unique, reveal/show
Today’s first tip relates to “unique.” There are no degrees of uniqueness. Unique is a dichotomous state; something is either unique or not. Something cannot be “very unique” or “more unique” or “less unique” or “most unique” or “least unique.” (I confess, however, that I believe someone can be very pregnant–just look at some of our junior faculty!)
What is wrong with the sentence below? How many mistakes can you find? (Answer at the end of the email.)
This proposal is very unique in that it examines all facets of an intervention designed to positively effect the quality of life (QoL) of patients that are living with an ongoing and serious chronic disease.
Our second tip comes from Derek Angus, a talented and prolific writer who knows the ins and outs of language. reveal vs. show
“Our results revealed ….” This is another cringer – ‘revealed’ is more than ‘showed,’ it suggests a mysteriousness and unusualness or other-worldliness. Poor ‘showed’ just seems to be too plain for many folks – but we are not writing Harry Potter novels. ‘Showed’ is an admirable workhorse and should be relied upon as such.