Almost there!


Hey, this guy looks familiar.

“But “almost” is also a stringer, a filler. Two extra syllables, like blush after makeup, just that requisite fuzziness, like ambiguity in an instance of total candor.”

-André Aciman, writing in The New York Times, 9/15/12

Even though he can’t resist taking a peanut gallery potshot at Strunk and White, André Aciman does a good thing for all of us “almost”-abusers who need that spoonful of ambiguity more often than is healthy. Namely, he forces us to examine our compulsion.

It just makes writing a lot easier, taking that extra second to install an escape pod just in case anyone calls us out on the claim that would have been without “almost”:

  • “No, no, the movie was almost as bad as Gigli!”
  • “No, no! I was so mad I almost split the kitchen table in half with an axe!”
A world without “almost”, where everyone is positive beyond any doubt about their every declarative sentence–or at least has the guts to pretend to be–isn’t a real one.

André Aciman’s article deftly analyzes more nuanced uses of the word, though what I ultimately understand as I finish it is that the meaning of “almost” is alm–no, IS!–worth an entire book.

Or at least a bloated Times Magazine twelve-pager.


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