Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Let it be stated -- stop using that word

In the flurry of coverage over the blowup in the investigation of corruption at South Carolina's Statehouse, an ugly little verb of attribution -- stated -- seems to be cropping up like spring flowers. (Just one example.)

Why ugly? I'll let Jack Cappon, one of the finest AP features editors ever (and a pretty damn good writer too), explain from his book on writing (which, BTW, should be on your desk). The bold emphasis is mine:

Asserted, stated, declared are often indiscriminately used for said. All are stronger and much more formal. ... Stated shouldn't be used at all; it is the instant mark of a wooden writer. (It fits if you're quoting from a deposition, but still looks dusty.)
 It also has connotations of increased veracity.

So let's put stated in its proper place -- on the top shelf, out of reach, to be looked at occasionally as we grab the easy-to-reach said. That way, we don't have to risk injuring our writing by reaching too high for it.

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