“Perfection is achieved not when there is nothing left to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.” – Antoine de Saint-Exupery
We keep a tally in our office for every time the words actually and literally are used. Actually, anyone who uses either word in conversation is literally publicly shamed and beaten. Just kidding. Or am I?
Now you’re actually confused.
We keep a tally because the words actually and literally are used so frequently that their definitions have been stripped of meaning. Literally means “figuratively,” and actually just makes one sound like a timid schoolboy afraid to speak his mind.
So why do we keep using them?
Because like a linguistic steroid, the words promise to deliver strength to a sentence and power to a point. But actually, both words literally weaken the power of a sentence.
Let’s try that again…
Both words weaken the power of a sentence. Get it now?
I hope you actually do.