Very is a word commonly used when speaking, though it’s criminally overused. But we’re a dramatic culture, and its strong presence is here to stay.

Where we can go wrong is using it for words that can’t be qualified using that word. Aside from the mistake of pairing it with unique—which is important enough to warrant its own separate blog—very is often used with first and last. “The very first thing he did was…,” or “It’s in the very last chapter of the book.”

Think about it. What’s the difference between the very first and the first? The correct answer is “Nothing.” What’s the difference between the very last and the last? The answer is an even more emphatic: “Nothing!”

First and last can’t be described as somewhat first or extremely last. Can’t be done. If it’s first, it’s first. Same with last; if it’s last, it’s last.

So let’s leave these nice strong words alone, and let them stand up for their own meaning without any help from a word that shouldn’t precede them.

Note: You’re going to hear and read these expressions every day, but just let it roll past your brain.

3 thoughts on “Very

  1. Yes yes yes – love it! I can almost tolerate bad grammar and spelling and typos from Joe Blow, who just doesn’t know better. But a professional writer’s piece, or a published piece with bad editing and grammar drives me bonkers. With spell check, an education and proofreading – no excuses. I know full well the frustration of a typo that gets by and is printed thousands of times. Even so, a professional should pay somebody to proofread in necessary. Do I sound like a Nazi or just one old bat having a tantrum? Carry on. I’ve already learned from the site. May

    Liked by 1 person

  2. One of my favorites that I have heard on the news of late is the term “safe haven.” A haven is defined as a “safe place.” I would note however, that the distinction should be made for those who may be in the habit of hiding out in unsafe havens.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. In this case very is being used as an intensive. Very is being used as emphasis, isn’t it? Say I am a fanatic about brushing my teeth. The very first thing I do is brush my teeth. It could also be used to emphasize that this is something done everyday–a kind of shorthand way of saying, “Everyday the first thing he does is….”


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