November 15, 2012

Weekly Language Usage Tips: lived experiences & in order to

Posted in in order to at 5:58 am by dlseltzer

Tip 1: Lived experiences

Can we agree to ban this term? It is silly, ugly, redundant, awful, and simply dreadful.

I could go on.

I know I am going to get some flak about this since this piece of jargon is all the rage these days, but really, what other kind of experience is there but a lived experience—an imagined experience?

I went to Google Scholar to see how bad the situation is and found more than a million references to ‘lived experiences.’ These are the articles that I found on the first page alone:

  • Learning-as-testing: A Heideggerian hermeneutical analysis of the lived experiences of students and teachers in nursing.
  • Why aren’t teachers being prepared to teach for diversity, equity, and global interconnectedness? A study of lived experiences in the making of multicultural and global educators
  • Lived experiences of immigrant nurses in New South Wales, Australia: searching for meaning
  • Social capital in the lived experiences of community gardeners
  • Lived experiences of the time preceding burnout
  • Faculty lived experiences in the online environment
  • Struggling for a tolerable existence: the meaning of men’s lived experiences of living with pain of fibromyalgia type
  • Striving to survive: Families’ lived experiences when a child is diagnosed with cancer
  • Myocardial infarction: narrations by afflicted women and their partners of lived experiences in daily life following an acute myocardial infarction
  • New pedagogies for teaching thinking: The lived experiences of students and teachers enacting narrative pedagogy

So you can see that it spans a number of fields these days (and is particularly popular in education), but a colleague told me that the term originated in phenomenology, so I started reading some of that literature to see is there was an appropriate reason for using this term. From what I can tell, a lived experience refers to a mindful or intentional experience. I guess that’s better than having haphazard experiences.

But, as you probably know, my tolerance for and patience with reading philosophy is extremely limited, so I don’t really know for sure.

I have an idea, since it was their word to begin with, let’s give it back to the philosophers. So if you’re a philosopher or if you are studying phenomenology, use it to your heart’s content.

For the rest of us, let’s cut it out—it’s their term, not ours.

And then, I don’t have to come across it anymore.

Tip 2: In order to

We’ve addressed this a couple of times before, but I have been reading a paper, and it seems to be everywhere throughout, so I thought it was worth mentioning briefly.

 It is necessary to understand and address these relationships in order to effectively and efficiently improve health care outcomes.

In order to study the existing gaps in knowledge, we used an innovative study design.

This is the tip: there are very few, if any, places in which having the words ‘in order’ strengthens a sentence. Best to drop them altogether, and just use ‘to.’

It is necessary to understand and address these relationships to effectively and efficiently improve health care outcomes.

To study the existing gaps in knowledge, we used an innovative study design.

That’s it.



  1. Anonymous said,

    Thank you Deb for these tips, direction and recommendations. SO helpful.

  2. Brian H. said,

    Hello, I am a longtime subscriber of your blog. I have to say that I have come across several situations where using “in order to” was much less ambiguous than just using “to.” I don’t have any specific examples (unless you want me to dig through my work), but I thought I’d just put that there.

    Maybe it’s best used sparingly, or maybe it was just the way I structured my sentences. But in my personal experience, there were more than “very few” instances that warranted “in order to.”

    Keep up the great work!

    • dlseltzer said,

      Show me. I would argue that. But I am willing to be dissuaded. Thanks, deb

      • Brian H. said,

        I went searched for “in order to” in my notes, hoping to find parts that I edited specifically for clarity. Not only do I not remember which ones I intentionally changed to “in order to,” now they look like they would work with “to” after forcing myself to look at them that way. In any case, here is one that may be ambiguous with “to”:

        “All the steps of a claimed method must be performed in order to find induced infringement . . . ”

        Maybe “performed to”—or any verb + to—could be interpreted as part of a phrase, e.g., performed/cooked/built to perfection. But I can definitely see it your way, too. I guess when I was typing it up, I wanted it to sound as clear as possible. After all, these notes need to be reviewed when I’m studying for finals.

  3. Anonymous said,

    Hi, I would like to receive your posts via email (

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: