1. yellowjello
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    yellowjello New Member

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    different ways to say the same thing?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by yellowjello, May 18, 2010.

    I'm actually writing a letter. It's a personal letter so I'm putting a lot of thought into what I write. However I noticed what makes it difficult is the fact that there are a million different ways I can phrase/say whatever I want to say.
    So every time I try writing a draft of this letter, it always comes out different. i just keep saying the same thing in different ways.
    Any advice on how how decide how to say it?

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  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    That's the challenge of writing. You can find a million ways to say the same thhing, except they aren't really the same thing. Words have shades of differences in meaning or tone, so one choice will express what you mean with more accuracy, or more emotion, or more impact, than most other ways.

    You just have to know the words well enough to capture the subtleties of meaning you are looking for.
  3. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat New Member

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    No matter how many synonyms there are, only one word will exactly fit. Like Mark Twain said, "The difference between an almost right word and the right word is like the difference between lightning and a lightning bug."

    But that's not the only factor to consider. I also like to use a variety of phrasing, so I don't sound redundant.
  4. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The best way to avoid redundancy is to not repeat yourself.
  5. yellowjello
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    yellowjello New Member

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    that's very true.

    what about something like order?

    for example:
    I don't know why you think this, but it isn't true.
    VS
    This isn't true, and I don't know why you think it is.

    Things like that can get confusing!

    Thanks for the help
  6. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Order changes emphasis.
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what words/phrasing you decide to use should depend on who you're writing to and why you're writing the letter...

    more formal wording/phrasing would be appropriate for a letter to someone you don't know very well, while a more casual style would be best for someone you're close to...

    and a serious tone vs a looser, chatty one will depend on what you hope the letter to accomplish... what feelings you want to put across...

    only you can make these decisions... my best advice would be for you to just write the same way you would be saying those things in person... read what you're writing aloud, to hear if it sounds the way you want it to...

    love and hugs, maia
  8. SilverWolf0101
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    SilverWolf0101 Member

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    Really, if the letter is that important to write until it sounds right, then to me, its probably being over thought. One of the key things about writing is to write it the first time as it comes from mind to paper. If it doesn't sound right to you, then rework the areas that doesn't make sense.

    Like Cogito said though, words play a major role in the tone of voice you wish to give whoever is going to read your letter. There are even times when you write something and someone read betweens the lines and intereprets your words the wrong way.

    I will also bring up Mammamaia's point, if the letter is to someone you know then write it as you would talk to them, if its formal, then be as professional as possible without sounding like your sucking up.

    As for the million ways to say the same thing, a lot of people spend too much time trying to find a different word for the one they actually need. A good example of this is in the movie Hellboy when the main character Hellboy asks "What is a good solid word for need?" The simple answer he is given is "need." Don't over think your words, and don't try spicing them up to make it sound better. It's a good way to make it sound unnatural and forced.

    Write this letter from your heart, don't think about it, don't think about the order of the words, in fact don't think about anything, just write. Write the words down on paper, or type them in as they come to you. In the end, you may find it's the best resualt you will get.
  9. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Member Contributor

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    I agree with Cogito. The worst thing you could do is repeat yourself. :)

    I agree with Cogito. The worst thing you could do is repeat yourself. :)
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Repetition is not necessarily bad.

    Repetition can be used for emphasis. Repetition can also be used to wrap an argument, tntroducing and then summarizing it. The standard essay layout uses repetition in this way. Repetition of structure is used to invite comparison and to draw an analogy.

    So earlier in this thread, I suggested removing unnecessary repetion, which is to say repetion without purpose or intent. Repetition with purpose feels no need to try to disguise itself with rewording. It stands straight and proudly proclaims, "One of these things is just like the others."

    Repetition is not necessarily bad.
  11. Halcyon
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    Halcyon Member Contributor

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    Repetition is not necessarily bad.

    You can say that again, Cogito. ;)
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ditto that!
  13. MissBelle
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    MissBelle New Member

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    Maybe don't change things you don't need to. There can be a lot of different ways to say on thing, I would focus on making sure that the letter if unified and flows.
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