Just simply DON’T!

rogersgeorge on September 16th, 2009

How often should you use “just” and “simply” when you write instructions?

Almost never.

Look a a few examples. In every case, not only do you not change the meaning when you remove these offending words, but the result is cleaner, faster, tighter, easier. The fewer distractions you give your readers, the better your writing.

“Just put your money in the box.”                           “Put your money in the box.”
“Just turn left when you see the sign.”                     “Turn left when you see the sign.”
“To accept the document, simply click ‘I Accept’ ”      “To accept the document, click ‘ I Accept.’ ”
Just simply eliminate these useless words.                Eliminate these useless words.

Simple, isn’t it?

When do you use these words?

  • Use “just” to refer to the immediate past. “He just stepped off the plane.”
  • Use “simple” to say that something is not complicated, but I can’t think of a simple example for “simply.”

In the next hour you will see a few examples of this misuse out there in the wild. Maybe you’ll find a useful use of “simply.” Come back and share in the comment box (click “Add a comment” below this post). If you want some good general advice about writing, fill in the form on the right.

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3 Responses to “Just simply DON’T!”

  1. Minor typographical error line 3.

    I tend to use just or simply when wishing to emphasize contrast. For example: Instead of attempting the complicated receipt in the magazine I simply ordered take-out. Legit or not?

  2. I think the line 3 you’re referring to is in the previous post—a misplaced question mark. Nice catch.
    About your usage, good question.
    1. My recommendation is to avoid these words in formal writing, such as instructions.
    2. In informal writing, such as correspondence and conversations, you can do whatever you want; the words, while superfluous, are not ungrammatical.
    3. Even in informal English your conversation is tighter if you leave out the unnecessary words.

  3. Guilty as charged. I’ve found the word “just” in several of my latest writings. My shame is deep. I can’t believe how lazy I’ve become in my compositions. I’ve been writing in the manner of my speech when I talk to my kids.

    I’m relieved to have found your website.
    Thank you.

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