Never Usually

“It never usually happens.”
– From a to-remain-unnamed columnist’s
recent offering

I’m tempted to indulge an H.M.S. Pinafore moment.

“What, never usually?”
– Chorus of sailors

“Well, hardly ever usually.”
– Captain

Yes, much better.

It hardly certainly can’t be that native speakers (and always mostly good writers) don’t know what “usually” means. Or “never” for that matter.

I also partly refuse absolutely to believe that this weirdness is ever frequently caused by not knowing that a categorical or absolute word cannot be modified. Softened. Nuanced.

No, I suspect that what always sometimes creates this mistake (and others akin to it) is occasionally all the time introducing a qualifier into an over-generalization and then never usually reading the result.

Thank goodness that it never often happens.

“What, never often?”

Well, hardly ever often. And a good thing too. It leaves us more time to fix the even more worst mistakes with modified superlatives.


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6 Responses to Never Usually

  1. Jim Taylor says:

    Seriously, changing one’s speech habits is difficult. Well, almost always. Early in 2020, I made a resolution never (not just hardly ever) to use a generalized superlative, because of Donald Trump’s excessive use /abuse of them: greatest president, worst disaster, greatest genius, most compassionate, least prejudiced….
    I think I succeeded in my writings, where I can go back and edit/rewrite. I probably didn’t in my speaking.
    Oh, well, a near miss is probably almost all the time maybe as good as a kilometre.

    Jim T

  2. Eric J Hrycyk says:

    Ever since I read that brushing alone will not prevent tooth decay, I always brush my teeth with my wife.

  3. Barry Jewell says:

    “I always brush my teeth with my wife.”

    She must be quite petite

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